Palaces R Us
After years of flirting with triple
figures, the event broke through big time in 2010 with 122 players
in only two heats.
There have been only six repeat laurelists
in eight Alhambra tournaments. Is that due to the size
of the event or the skill required?
After flirting with triple digits for six years, Alhambra
finally broke through that glass ceiling and shattered the old
attendance mark set just last year with 36 5-player tables during
During Heat 1:
· Pete Gathmann and Rob Drozd tied, but Pete advanced
with the longest wall tie breaker. The other nail biters included:
· Elaine Pearson's one-point win over Christy Hunnefield.
Only 13 points separated first and last in what was the closest
grouped game of the heat. Steve Koleszar, Curt Collins, and Michael
Wojtasczyk kept it close.
· Chuck Krueger also won by a single point over Michael
· Matt Calkins managed a 2-point difference over Bobbi
· Michael Wei at his first WBC beat 2007 Champ Vassili
Kyrkos by three.
In the second heat, Scott Bane ended the reign of defending
champ Kevin Wojtasczyk. Sam Atabaki won in the second round and
together with Chuck Krueger had the distinction of being the
only players to win both heats.
Three tables ended in a tie with Chuck Krueger edging Luke
Koleszar, David Meyyard besting Rebecca Hebner, and Eric Brosius
outlasting Rob Brode on the strength of their longer walls. Winning
in a more conventional manner by ever greater amounts were Lisa
Gutermuth over Lawrence Solomon by one, Lynda Shea over Normal
Rule by four, Gilles Duchesne over Tom Vickery by six, Chris
Rericha over Jim Fry by seven, and Nick Page over John Luckini
Lauren Vessey enjoyed the largest spread between first and
last with a 67-point spread over John Faella. Joel Feldman managed
to win with the smallest wall - five; less than half the average
wall length (13) of the winners - and in stark contrast to Nick
Henning's longest wall (17).
With the two heats completed, the attendance increase took
its toll as there were more winners than slots available for
the Semi-finals so no alternates and six second-heat winners
were denied a further shot at glory. Lynda Shea, Lisa Gutermuth,
Robbie Mitchell, Nessa Mongold, Gilles Duchesne, and Keith Levy
came out on the short end of the tie-breaking straws.
The closest table in the Semis matched Vien Bounma, Eric Brosius,
Matt Calkins, Luke Koleszar, and Joel Feldman. Luke took an early
lead. By the second scoring round, Joel had pulled ahead with
Eric close behind. Vien did not make up much ground by the last
scoring round and ended up in last place with 66. Eric purchased
only four pieces and fell back to fourth at 71. Matt and Joel
tied for second with 88. Luke purchased seven pieces which put
him in first for two colors and tied in a third which gave him
the one-point win over Matt and Joel.
Nick Henning, Scott Bane, Debbie Gutermuth, Chuck Krueger,
and Sam Atabaki also played a close contest. After the first
scoring round, both Sam and Chuck already had walls of 6 so they
led. By the end of the second scoring round, Scott and Debbie
had made up enough ground to challenge the leaders. By the end,
Scott had lost his white and red positions and ended in fourth.
Debbie gained, but not enough to pull ahead. Sam won the duel
of the leaders by two points.
The table that saw the largest win was cotested by Barbara Flaxington,
Marilyn Koleszar, Carol Haney, Nick Page, and Michael Wei. Micheal
took the early advantage by having the lead in white and pink
palaces and the longest wall. By the end of the second round,
Nick tried to build a long wall to make up ground and led in
Blue while Carol wrested the lead in Brown. Michael was able
to keep his lead in white and purple. By the end, Michael was
down to a three-way tie in purple, but had held his lead in white
and won with 102 followed by Nick with 84, Carol 71, Marilyn
70 and Barbara 60.
The fourth table was manned by Pete Gathmann, Elaine Pearson,
Tom Stokes, Jeff Mullet, and Chris Renicha. After the first scoring
round, there was a clear dividing line between the Have's and
Have-not's. Chris had the lead with 11 followed by Pete and Jeff
at 10. Elaine and Tom followed way behind with only 3. The second
scoring round brought the field closer together. Elaine still
lagged behind, but Tom had moved into second with Pete holding
the lead. Jeff and Chris were close, but had lost ground. The
momentum was with Tom and he took the lead at the end followed
by Pete. Jeff was a distant third. By this time, Chris had fallen
back and struggled to keep fourth, two points ahead of Elaine.
The last table contained Thomas Idzikowski, Lori Miskolf,
Lauren Vessey, David Meynard, and Jean-Francois Gagne. After
the first scoring round, Jean-Francois and Lauren were tied for
first with David a point behind. At the mid-point, Lauren had
dropped back into last. David had surged ahead into first with
Lori close behind followed by Jean-Francois. The player positions
did not change in the third period as everyone held their station.
The five winners immediately went about the business of deciding
the next champion. The first scoring round found David Meyaard
with only one point for his wall. Tom Stokes was only slightly
better off with five points and Michael Wei had but six. Luke
Koleszar and Sam Atabaki had purchased more blocks and were in
better positions with 11 and ten points respectively. By the
midpoint, David had significantly improved his palace, but still
brought up the rear with 20 points. Michael had secured the lead
with the Blue buildings and built up his wall, but dropped to
fourth place in the process. Tom had concentrated on the green
and white buildings, but was hampered by a wall of 4. Sam had
built a 13 length wall which was the longest of the group. He
had also secured at least one of all the buildings except for
blue which meant tying for first in two colors instead of taking
the lead himself. Luke was in a similar situation where he had
exactly two buildings of all the colors except for blue. This
also meant he was tying for the lead in colors, but enjoyed a
nine-point lead with 45. By game end, David remained in fifth
position with 56 points. Tom had fallen back to fourth with Michael
edging him for third. It all came down to Sam and Luke. Sam had
secured the lead in the red and purple buildings and a wall length
of 15. Luke had secured only the lead in white, but held the
second position in red, brown, green and purple with a 9 length
wall. With all this tallied together, it proved that holding
the lead is not always the best way to win, but second place
in many colors can do the trick just as well as Luke's 104 points
topped Sam by eight.
James Dougherty, Rebecca Hebner, David
Meyaard and James Freeman battle in a game won by Dave over Rebecca
on a longer walls tie-breaker.
This year's finalists pose for the
traditional Final photo before deciding who would walk away with
wood and who would have to settle for lesser laurels.