GM Makes Good at Long Last
David Brooks and Tim Hitchings trade
broadsides as the GM goes the distance after 20 years!
Young Isaac Clizbe makes an impressive
showing against defending champ Derek Whipple.
The tournament field continued its trend of growing younger
as most of its new players were in their teens which means many
of them had not yet been borne the last time this out-of-print
game was printed. One made the semi-finals and another narrowly
missed doing so.
On Tuesday evening, Malcolm Smith showed his command of the
situation in a single ship match with 2008 finalist Dan Long.
The difference proved to be Malcolm's judicious use of the repair
rule to give him a razor thin 35-33 point victory on damage.
On Wednesday, we may have seen the shortest Wooden Ships &
Iron Men game in history in a single ship action played by Scott
Smith and David Brooks. On Turn 3, David's initial broadside
resulted in a critical hit, catching Scott's ship on fire. The
subsequent die roll determined that the fire was out of control.
Friday saw the weirdest match of the tournament, between GM
Tim Hitchings and Malcolm Smith. As Tim had all-but-clinched
a playoff berth, he decided to experiment with a new strategy,
firing nothing but chain shot at his opponent's rigging in hopes
of forcing a "surrender by immobility" victory. Malcolm
played it safe with the tried-and-true "pound-the-hull-into-splinters"
strategy. On what was to be the second to the last turn of the
game, Tim destroyed Malcolm's final rigging square. All that
would be needed was to rake Malcolm's hull for the win. On the
next turn, Tim succeeded in doing so, but Malcolm returned the
favor by destroying Tim's last hull square! With both ships in
a "surrendered" condition, the remaining suspense was
whether Tim's ship would sink or explode, which would give Malcolm
the win. Instead, Tim's ship surrendered by "striking its
colors", resulting in a draw. Victory by timely surrender.
Saturday gave players the choice of sleeping in or taking
part in the marquee engagement of the week, the traditional Fleet
Action. Players lined up as either French or anti-French Russians
and Turks for a 1799 battle for control of the Ionian Islands.
The French held on for a narrow win, as they were able to sweep
a Russian supply ship and transport from the field before the
weight of the enemy fleets could be brought to bear.
One of the semi-finals featured a head-to-head reversal of
fortune between 2008 champ Evan Hitchings and defending champ
Derek Whipple. Derek played a very safe and conservative game,
denying Evan the chance for any of the high-risk, high-reward
maneuvers he's prone to make. Evan recognized his only opening
mid-to-late game and capitalized on it. Damage paid off as, by
the end, he was ahead by only a few hull hits.
The other semi-final saw perennial bridesmaid, GM Tim Hitchings,
face off against rookie-of- the-year Isaac Clizbe. Isaac went
for quantity over quality, as he chose a squadron of three average
ships-of-the-line to Tim's two elite SOLs. Isaac's maneuvering
was almost flawless, yet he could not overcome the superior gunnery
of Tim's powerful ships. The higher rate of fire of Tim's elite
crews resulted in all of Isaac's ships striking their colors
before time ran out, with both of Tim's ships still afloat.
The Final was something of a family "rubber match".
Evan had beaten his dad in the semi-finals in 2008 and Tim returned
the favor in 2009. This time around, both commanded conventional
squadrons of two British 74 gun ships-of-the-line and, from the
outset, it was obvious that both were playing conservatively.
With good players, that combination usually favors the luck of
the die. This year was no exception, as Tim was able to take
down a rigging section on one of Evan's ships and then concentrate
both of his ships against the other to take the wood at long
last after 20 years of servicing this event.
Isn't it a little early for Ebenezar
or is this a Levy envy thing?
Father vs son for all the marbles
and this time, dad wins!