leader off the starboard bow ...
I'd shoot at that Monnin guy in orange
- he's dressed as a shell magnet anyway, Besides, he's a Board
member - he must have voted for something you don't like.
Michael Ussery, Ernest Czyrvca, Tim
Miller and Larry York pick their targets as the first round of
shoot-the-leader and ask-questions-later gets underway.
2009 tussle proved to be another lively Saturday night event,
as none of the five Round 1 tables took any fewer than four decks
to determine a winner. This is because all of the
players were well aware by now of Naval War's governing
central strategy; always be aware of who is in the lead at any
given moment and concentrate on sinking that player's fleet before
the deck is exhausted, thus ending a hand. The 10
point penalty for a sunk fleet would be imposed a total of 47
times, which is a new tournament record.
Table 1 was a very competitive table, with Alan Arvold scoring
big with 44 points in the fourth hand to advance to the Final
with 82 points. Greg Wilson was second with 67 points,
moving from last to second with a 40-point hand. Newcomer
Mac Willington had a good showing with 61 points for third, while
GM Lockwood managed to avoid last place by scoring 54 points. Kevin
Breza came in fifth with 41 points, and former champion Bill
Place held the bottom rung at 29 points.
Table 2 showed a similar pattern, with veteran Michael Mitchell
using a 46-point fourth hand to overcome having his fleet sunk
twice to score 99 points and outdistance his nearest rival, Pat
Maloney, who came in second at 79. Ben Collinson shared
a tie for third with Bruce Monnin at 69 points. The
always tricky Matt Evinger took fourth with 54 points, and Jean-Christine
Hull kept the field honest with 47 points.
Table 3 turned out to be a high scoring melee, and the only
table to go five hands in the preliminaries, as Chad Gormly paced
the field with a tournament high of 102 points (the only player
to break 100) scoring 46 in the fourth hand. Hard
on his heels was veteran Mike Ussery, at 91 points with a 44-point
fourth hand and secured the only runner-up qualifying spot for
the Final. (NOTE: The change in format for determining
the best runner-up was announced at the start). Rounding out
the field was Larry York at 73 points, Ernie Czyryca 72, Paul
Weintraub 69 points, and Tim Miller 67.
Table 4 proved to be the most nail-biting contest of the night,
as four of six players had their fleets sunk in the decisive
fourth hand! Dale Long, one of the two surviving players, scored
35 points in this hand to win by one over Tim Evinger , 80-79. In
this case, Tim had the biggest hand with 53 points, but having
his fleet sunk was enough to drop him one point behind Dale. Randall
MacInnis, the other surviving player in the hand, finished
third with 70 points, followed by Craig Yope 52, 2007 Champion
Kelly Czyryca 48, and Scott Beall, 40 points, having had his
fleet sunk twice.
Table 5 was the most predictable of the five contests, as
former GM and two-time champion James Fleckenstein managed to
outpace the field with big third and fourth hands of 46 and 37
points each. Despite having his fleet sunk in BOTH
of these hands, Jim still finished with 93 points. His
nearest rival was 2008 Champion Bryan Eshleman at 69 points,
followed by Melissa Oslin 54, James Kramer 47, Frank Mestre 44,
and newcomer Matt Bacho with 40 points.
The Final was now composed of a savvy group who fully understood
the central strategy of Naval War, and who did not let
emotions cloud their judgment. The result would be
one of the closest championships ever played. Hand
1 saw Long as the early leader with 31 points, Mitchell second
with 28, followed by Fleckenstein 27, Gormly 21, Arvold 14, and
Ussery with 7 (sunk fleet).
Hand 2 saw Long achieving the rare feat of both surviving
the round and extending his lead, as he remained first with 42
points. Gormly closed the gap to second with 37, Fleckenstein
maintained third at 36, Mitchell dropped to fourth with 33, and
Arvold and Ussery tied for fifth with 18 each.
Hand 3 finally saw the table zero in on the leader, as Long
had his fleet sunk. The field was now extremely tight
however, as Gormly led with 49 points, Fleckenstein lurking close
behind with 47 (despite a sunk fleet), Mitchell with 46, Arvold
closing the gap with 42, and Long tied with Ussery for fifth
place at 41. ALL players were now within striking
range of victory, which frequently causes players to abandon
the central strategy in favor of a free-wheeling shootout.
Hand 4 proved a surprise, however, as all players maintained
their discipline. The result was an even tighter contest
as Ussery now had climbed into first with 69 points, just six
short of the required 75 for victory. Mitchell was
breathing down Ussery's neck at 68, followed just as closely
by Fleckenstein at 67. Long pulled to within striking
range at 64, followed by Arvold with 57 and Gormly with 53. The
stage was now set for the climactic final hand.
Hand 5 was unexpectedly close though, as all players managed
to adhere to the central strategy of ganging up on the leaders. As
a consequence, both Ussery and Mitchell would have their fleets
sunk for the ten point penalty. But it was the experience
and situational awareness of Fleckenstein that proved decisive
in this round, as he both survived the round and scored 17 points
to become the first three-time champion with 84 points! This
was enough to edge out Chad Gormly, who finished second with
82. He would be followed by Long with 77, Ussery with
72, Mitchell with 67, and Arvold with 65, making this the most
competitive Naval War championship ever. Congratulations
to James Fleckenstein for his landmark win!
Uh Oh ... If I were Mac Willingham,
I wouldn't like that look from Kevin Breza.
Really? Rules? In Naval War?
Matt Bacho and Bryan Eshleman seem incredulous.