el grande 

Updated 11/30/2009

2009 WBC Report    

 2010 Status: pending 2010 GM commitment

Rob Flowers, MD

2009 Champion

Offsite Links

  Rio Grande Games

Event History
1999     Stu Hendrickson     47
2000     Anthony Burke      40
2001     Jason Levine      70
2002     Mark Guttag      41
2003     Rob Flowers      55
2004      Jay Fox      68
2005     Charlie Kersten      97
2006      Greg Thatcher      55
2007     Robb Effinger      68
2008      Geoff Pounder      61
2009      Rob Flowers      71

Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Rob Flowers        MD    09     82
  2.  Greg Thatcher      FL    08     62
  3.  Jason Levine       NY    05     62
  4.  Robb Effinger      on    09     51
  5.  Geoff Pounder      on    08     46
  6.  Charlie Kersten    OH    05     40
  7.  Jay Fox            NJ    04     40
  8.  Mark Guttag        VA    02     40
  9.  Stu Hendrickson    VA    00     36
 10.  David Buchholz     MI    05     32
 11.  Anthony Burke      NJ    00     30
 12.  Mike Hazel         SC    07     24
 13.  Yoel Weiss         NJ    04     24
 14.  Josh Campbell      NY    03     24
 15.  Mike Kaltman       PA    09     18
 16.  Marc Berenbach     MA    08     18
 17.  Winton LeMoine     CA    07     18
 18.  Eric Freeman       PA    06     18
 19.  Nick Benedict      CA    01     18
 20.  Rob Seulowitz      NY    00     18
 21.  Dan Hoffman        NC    99     18
 22.  Barry Shutt        PA    04     16
 23.  Mario Lanza        PA    03     16
 24.  Barb Flaxington    NJ    09     15
 25.  Gary Presser       NY    02     13
 26.  Brian Kirchner     de    06     12
 27.  Pete Gathmann      NJ    05     12
 28.  John Poniske       PA    04     12
 29.  Davyd Field        SC    03     12
 30.  Dennis Disney      TX    99     12
 31.  Curt Collins II    PA    09      9
 32.  Rich Meyer         MA    07      9
 33.  David Gubbay       TX    06      9
 34.  James Pei          TX    00      9
 35.  Sean Vessey        VA    99      9
 36.  Eric Brosius       MA    03      8
 37.  Stan Hilinski      MD    02      8
 38.  Nick Henning       CT    09      6
 39.  Tim Mossman        MD    08      6
 40.  Mike Nickeloff     CA    07      6
 41.  Paul Murphy        UT    06      6
 42.  Peter Martin       NJ    01      6
 43.  Paul Hakken        NJ    99      6
 44.  Andrew Greene      VA    04      4
 45.  Gary Noe           FL    03      4
 46.  Jeff Meyer         MA    08      3
 47.  Brian Kowal        WI    07      3
 48.  Joe Pabis          VA    06      3
 49.  Andy Lewis         DE    01      3
 50.  Scott Buckwalter   MD    00      3
 51.  Scott Smith        GA    99      3

2009 Laurelists                                                 Repeating Laurelists 

Mike Kaltman, PA

Robb Effinger, ON

Curt Collins II, PA

Nick Henning, CT

Barbara Flaxington, NJ

Past Winners

Stu Hendrickson,VA

Anthony Burke, NJ

Jason Levine, NY

Mark Guttag, VA

Rob Flowers, MD
2003, 2009

Jay Fox, NJ

Charlie Kersten, OH

Greg Thatcher, FL

Robb Effinger, on

Geoff Pounder, on

Barb Flaxington is deep in thought as she contemplates her caballeros.

Haim Hochboim and Sean Vessey ponder where to move the Castillo next.

First Among Champions ...

When teaching El Grande to new players, one often asked question is "What's a winning score in this game?" This is difficult to answer because so much depends on when the scoring action cards come out and how they are used. This year, however, the preliminary rounds proved to be pretty consistent with the top score usually between 90 and 110, with a few higher outliers in games with heavy scoring.

However, then there were the semi-final games, where no winner scored over 94, and the lowest victory was a 77-point effort by Rob Flowers, beating out Barbara Flaxington by a mere point.

Many experienced players manned the semi-finals, including former champions Geoff Pounder, Robb Effinger, Greg Thatcher, Rob Flowers, and Jay Fox, along with an equal number of former laurelists. The extremely competitive field, combined with the somewhat chaotic flow of the game, have conspired to prevent a repeat champion in the entire history of the event, until this year.

Three of the past champions were eliminated in the semis, leaving Rob Flowers and Robb Effinger to contend with with Curt Collins, Mike Kaltman, and Nick Henning for top honors. Unfortunately, the GM didn't expect to make it to the Final, and so the following is reconstructed from notes by one of the assistants, who soon learned it's hard to keep up with all the action!

Rob bid high (12) on the first turn having mistaken the 2 card for the King Returns action, but then instead worked on getting lots of people onto the board into good scoring positions and the Castillo. Robb played his 1 power card on Turn 2 but the Royal Advisor came up on Turn 3. Nick got a good score on Turn 3 with a Score the Firsts card, but he was hampered by poor board position and had placed no men in the Castillo. Rob and Curt managed to steal each others' home provinces during the Castillo phase, basically costing each of them a couple of points. At the end of the first scoring round, Rob had opened up a three-point lead, but the overall spread was only six points.

In the next few rounds, Rob fell out of first as more scoring cards came out, many which did not favor his board position. Nick, having lost his home province, relocated his Grande to Galicia and later placed the 8/4/0 scoreboard there to shore up his points. Rob played the 1-13 combo but was having trouble getting additional men on the board, although he did manage to create a scoring opportunity that netted Curt and Rob about five points over the other players, which was sorely needed by both. Rob had no men in the Castillo, but his board position allowed him to regain the lead over Robb, with the overall group within 12 points.

Round 7 brought out a "score the 5's" which allowed Robb Effinger to take the lead by four points. Then in Turn 8, Nick set up a score for Mike which allowed him to score two provinces, giving lots of points to Mike, Nick, and Robb, and very little to Rob and Curt. Two more scoring cards in Round 9 helped put Mike and Robb out in front by several points; however, the tradeoff was not getting as many men on the board, especially the Castillo. Curt and Rob tied for most cabs (nine each) in the Castillo, and Rob finally managed to retake his home province, winning by a single point over Mike. The entire group was within six points at the end, a close finish.

Other tournament highlights include this year's high score, achieved by Matt Peterson in the preliminary rounds at 137. The narrowest win was a 1st place tie between Nick Kiswanto and James Pei in the first round. Alex Bove was the only double winner in the preliminary heats, but with only 23 games in the three heats, there was enough room for all winners plus a few alternates. The bad luck award goes to Curt Collins who has made the semis three years in a row, finally making it to the Final this year and then losing the tiebreaker for 3rd place. The GM is considering changing the tiebreaker rules for next year, possibly to solely relying on remaining power cards in hand.

Many thanks to assistants Greg and Eric whose help allowed the GM to play. Players shouldn't expect any major changes for next year, but there will be some off-season work to better clarify the discrepancies between different printings and translations of the game rules.

 GM      Rob Flowers  [7th Year]  NA
    rpf1@mindspring.com   NA

2009 Preview Page | View the Icon Key | Return to main BPA page