once more behind the sand dunes
with the grognards...
Steve Koleszar eschews Titan
battles to be a grognard again.
Jon Lockwood offers another clinic
on the Palevda Gambit.
In a year of record WBC attendance, the grognards who turned
out for Afrika Korps fell to their lowest total in the
past 14 years, and with that decline fell out of the Century
for the first time. Not surprisingly, the final four for the
20th tournament featured the usual veteran faces, with three-time
and defending champion Vince Meconi facing off against 2007 champion
Bert Schoose in one semi-final, while GM Jonathan Lockwood (the
2003 champion) took on up and coming journeyman Bill Morse in
the other playoff slot.
Lockwood took the British with no supply bid needed. Morse's
opening attack offered Lockwood the chance to use his infamous
Palevda Gambit opening, which Lockwood declined because of the
opportunity to occupy the N19 escarpment and hamper German flanking
efforts. As things turned out, this did not matter. Aided by
a rare PERFECT supply run, Morse was able to drive the British
into Tobruch with minimal casualties and mount an aggressive
eastward drive towards Alexandria. By early August, the Germans
were at the El Alamein line. Realizing his situation was desperate,
Lockwood unleashed 1-2 and 1-1 counterattacks against two 7-7-10
Panzer regiments, hoping to kneecap the Afrika Korps with an
exchange on the 1-2 and a D Elim or exchange on the 1-1. The
1-2 gained the exchange, but the 1-1 yielded an "Attacker
Eliminated", enabling Morse to execute an automatic victory
counterattack on the next turn to take Alexandria, sending Morse
to his first AFK Final.
Schoose took the British without a supply bid. Much as in
the other semi-final match, Meconi was able to drive the British
into Tobruch and mount an eastward offensive with minimal casualties.
However, Schoose's adroit use of delay units, combined with a
less than perfect supply run for the Germans after July, enabled
Schoose to hold until his November reinforcements could join
the fray. Unfortunately for Meconi, he did not realize that the
influx of two 4-4-7s and three 2-2-6s, combined with the other
remaining 2-2-6s, enabled the British to mount a 3-1 counterattack
against one of his 7-7-10 panzers, resulting in an Exchange.
The British were able to follow this with further attacks to
reduce the Afrika Korps. Faced with a dwindling attack force
and an aggressive British counteroffensive, Meconi fell back
to Tobruch and launched the "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch"
(1-1 attack) vs the Tobruch defenders. The resulting exchange
gave the Germans possession of Tobruch, but at a prohibitive
In the championship match, both sides wanted the Germans,
to the point where Morse bid one "sunk" supply for
the privilege. This became a critical factor early when Morse's
first two convoys were "sunk". When he finally got
a supply on his third roll, Bert used his one automatic "sunk"
result to take out that convoy as well. The precarious German
supply situation forced Morse to resort to flanking maneuvers
south of Tobruch in an effort to force the British out of their
initial blocking positions. Schoose then demonstrated once again
why Afrika Korps is known as "The Unforgiving Game"
by isolating one of Morse's 7-7-10 panzer regiments. A desperation
2-1 German counterattack on the second turn of isolation managed
to break the isolation at the cost of Ariete in an exchange.
Schoose then isolated the 7-7-10 a second time using his June
reinforcements. Morse was compelled to resort to a 1-1 counterattack
to break the isolation but this attempt failed, resulting in
the elimination of the isolated 7-7-10. This drew the German
concession, and made Bert a two-time champ and the first player
ever to win both the WBC and the PBeM titles in the same year!
Greg Smith counting Movement Factors
in the game of maneuver.
Finalists John Morse and Bert Schoose
mug for the camera.
The Third BPA PBeM Afrika Korps tournament again drew
26 grognards some 46 years after this game was first published.
After 25 games, only 2007 champ Bert Schoose and venerable 1993-94
champ Joe Beard remained. Bert's Axis forces outdid their historical
counterparts to allow Bert to capture his first PBeM AFK title.
On a sadder note, John Popiden earned his last laurels in
this event posthumously - having passed away during the course
of the tournament. Others winning laurels were Ed Menzel, Jonathan
Lockwood and Vince Meconi in that order.