Beware the Tie Breaker ...
Ex-champ Bob Eastman reaches for a
trick but fails to advance in the 2009 shark-infested waters
of Atlantic Storm.
Reverend Keith, AKA "the voice
of Slapshot", took over the GM reins as the event racked
up its 12th straight 100+ entrant field.
Atlantic Storm (and its sequel Pacific Typhoon)
continued to attract big numbers despite being out of print for
15 years and the one year (hopefully) hiatus of its long time,
award winning GM, John Coussis. The games still have
a fierce following with over half of the 120 entrants playing
at least two of the four heats. 40 individuals won a heat with
only Stephane Dorais able to win a pair. However,
that did not help him make it out of the semi-finals to the last
The finalists were defending champ Bruce Young, Gary Libby,
John Elliott, Ben Collinson, Carmen Petruzzelli, and Jeff
Heidman. The later three were new to the laurel table, while
the first two were repeating laurelists. Ben drew seat 1, but
he was unlucky enough to have defending champ Bruce on his left,
which put Bruce, in theory, in the best situation to counter
Ben's plays. Strategically seated to Bruce's left was Gary, hoping
to do better his 4th place 2008 wood. On Gary's left was John
who had barely qualified for the semi-finals (winning on his
4th attempt). Had another qualifier appeared for the semi-finals,
John would have been the odd man out. This was John's fourth
time at the wood table, so he was more than ready to do battle.
Carmen was a frequent participant making his first Round 3 appearance
while Jeff made the cut in his first try. Jeff had demonstrated
his skill in Pacific Typhoon but as a newcomer to Atlantic
Storm, he was at somewhat of a disadvantage.
On the first round, Ben demonstrated to the others that he
knew the game well by declaring surface and escorting a full
1940 convoy to safety with the Renown. The third round witnessed
a substantial surface battle over one of the least important
convoys in the deck-QP 11 (1942, Arctic, empty) - with everyone
contributing something. The fight began when John victimized
Gary's Edinburgh, but it was Bruce's King George V that won the
day, and he shared spoils with Ben.
After the fourth round, everyone had victory points tucked
away, but Ben was still in the lead. In the fifth round, Carmen
daringly called a 1940 sub battle for HX 72 and played the Wolverine,
which Gary defeated with Prien's U47 (the card that Wolverine
is supposed to fate). Gary followed that victory by winning the
next round - a sub battle in which everyone joined -thus pulling
ahead of Ben. However, John won the next two convoys, which gained
him 13 VPs for convoys alone, and he was now in the lead with
an eight-card hand.
The tenth convoy, a 1940 battle for HX 84, got pushed into
a second round that Ben won with the Hood. At this halfway point
in the game, there was a close race for first place. Gary had
13 VPs in convoys (like John), while Ben had 10 VPs in convoys
but had tucked away more spoils than the other two. Ben and Gary
were playing with seven-card hands. The other three players at
the table needed to find some serious magic if they wanted to
be in this race. Bruce was looking for it, having ditched six
hands already (he would flush nine hands by game end). Carmen
and Jeff had discarded just as frequently, but only one card
at a time, so they must have been holding something of merit
and were just waiting for the right opportunity.
The ill-fated PQ 17 was the twelfth convoy, and Arctic Storm
swept away most of the Allied defenders, giving Bruce the convoy
in spoils. Bruce called an air battle for the following 1941
convoy (which is the suit Bruce called every time he was round
leader) but no one could play except Gary. Carmen's King George
V won the battle for JW 51B, and Ben refueled it with the Grey
Ranger. The next battle was John's to select, and like the expert
player he is, he called air for the full, 1941, 7-point SC 44.
Carmen and Gary tried to fight him and had a slight advantage
to win, but John rolled high enough to take the convoy and the
spoils, thus gaining a big lead.
Two rounds later, Jeff called surface for a 1942 battle over
4-point ON 67, and he played B-Dienst. It was late in the game,
and Jeff was hoping for his moment in the sun. Neither the Bismarck
nor the Tirpitz had been seen on the table all game. Up to this
point, Jeff had discarded twelve times, including ten consecutive
rounds. He had to be holding something big. Ben brought out the
King George V, which he had refueled three rounds earlier. Bruce
played the Harvester and Grey Ranger. Gary followed with Admiral
Tovey, Rodney, and Sheffield. Carmen said he was ready to play
German, and given that he never tossed a hand, he was probably
holding something of consequence. Therefore, John played the
Scharnhorst. On seeing this, Carmen couldn't resist and instead
played the Duke of York to victimize Scharnhorst. So with no
support on the table, Jeff discarded B-Dienst and Bruce refueled
the ubiquitous King George V.
Could Carmen and Jeff along with John's Scharnhorst have outgunned
the ships of Ben, Bruce, and Gary? The Allies had a total strength
of 15 before Carmen played. There were 13 Allied VPs on the table,
but Scharnhorst was a guaranteed 4 VPs for Carmen, and taking
it meant that no Allied spoils (if any were to be had) would
need to be shared with John. Who knows how things might have
played out, but Jeff's great bid for spoils evaporated before
The next convoy saw a large sub battle for the sizable ON
202, ONS 18. Ben started off with Ultra, and Bruce and Gary played
German. John countered with a strong Allied force of three cards,
and Carmen joined the Germans to fight against John. However,
Jeff joined the Allies and stormed away Carmen's play. After
a weak play by Ben, John took the convoy home. He was now so
far in the lead that neither Gary nor Ben could catch him unless
one of them could win two big battles in the last two rounds.
They couldn't, and John showed that in his case at least the
fourth time is the charm.
Steve Cameron and Kevin Emery bridge
the generation gap at WBC.
It's all in the cards, or is this
another Stein flush?