once more behind the sand dunes
with the grognards ...
GM Jonathan Lockwood lectures one
and all on the benefits of the Palevda Gambit.
Ed Menzel's Axis forces schools head
grognard Bruno Sinigaglio in the semi-finals.
The top four seeded players after the 2011 Swiss preliminaries
were: Bert Schoose, Ed Menzel, Bruno Sinigaglio and Vince Meconi
in that order. All but Ed could claim former champion status
in this event and between them they accounted for nine AFK titles.
In the first semi-final match between three-time champion
Meconi (Axis) and two-time champion Schoose, Vince was delayed
by the British in classic fashion as Rommel pushed them back
to Tobruch with flanking maneuvers. Bert's Royal Navy played
havoc with Vince's supplies, sinking three of five in April,
May and June, but Vince still managed to force Bert back into
Tobruch. Once the Cyrennaica fortress was encircled, Rommel moved
east. However, further successful operations against the allies
were impossible as the Royal Navy sunk three of four supply convoys
in July and August. At this point, the German supply line back
to Tripoli had become untenable and Vince had to resort to the
Holy Hand Grenade (1-1 low odds attack on Tobruch). The Grenade
worked, and the Allies were now the ones in trouble as two 4-4-7's
and a 3-3-7 were eliminated and Rommel was inspecting captured
supplies in Tobruch. Bert now realized that his chances of holding
Alexandria until the arrival of the November Crusader reinforcements
were nil without a counterattack. Alas, his two 1-1 attacks resulted
in an A Elim and an A Back. The Axis captured Alexandria on Nov
1 to secure their victory.
In the other semi-final, Menzel sent his entire 21st Panzer
south and Sinagaglio considered using GM Lockwood's Paleveda
Gambit (sending a supplied blocking force of two 2-2-6s into
Cyrenaica near Bengasi). He opted instead for the more conservative
choice of a standard umbrella defense around Tobruch. Eventually,
the Axis pushed the British into Tobruch. However, Ed was plagued
by bad rolls on soak-off attacks, forcing the Axis to invest
Tobruch with only an Italian 2-3-4 on H24 and another on H26.
The British fell back to El Alemein to await the Axis onslaught.
Ed dispatched Rommel to hold the Axis home base, because he
needed the 2-2-4 garrison to replace his Italian losses. At the
beginning of the British Aug 1 turn, the Afrika Korps was halted
at El Alemein, and Savena, traveling from the home base, was
a turn from closing the investment completely at Tobruch. Bruno
seized the opportunity to attack out of Tobruk at 2-1, before
the investment could be sealed - a D Elim, D back or Exchange
would doom the Afrika Korps far to the east. However, an A Back
2 instead killed 12 irreplaceable British factors and saved the
Afrika Korps. Ed now turned his eastern force westward and captured
Tobruch in September. With the arrival of the November Crusader
reinforcements, the war dragged on into 1942. In the ensuing
slugging match at the El Alamein line, Bruno narrowly missed
destroying the two German 7-7-10s with a 1-2 attack using two
4-4-7's. In his second major counterattack, Bruno killed a 7-7-10,
a 3-3-7 and an Italian on a 1-1 attack, but Ed's counterattack
created a German advance into Ruweisat, trapping and killing
two adjacent 4-4-7's without supply. At that point, Bruno lost
his home base and Ed's Axis forces prevailed.
The Championship match began poorly for Menzel's Axis on May
1 with a 4-1 Exchange vs a doubled 2-2-6 at G18. Vince's Royal
Navy then made matters worse by sinking the Axis supplies on
May 2 and June 1. As a result, Rommel was not able to force the
allies into Tobruk before arrival of the June reinforcements.
After several attacks and the accompanying expenditure of much
supply, the Axis invested Tobruch and moved east. The British
had the upper hand at this juncture and the German position deteriorated
further as several more supply convoys were sunk by the Royal
On Sep 1, 1941, with Ed's Axis hopelessly bogged down, he
decided to change his fortunes by using the Holy Hand Grenade
versus Tobruch. The desperation attack succeeded with a D Elim,
and Ed waltzed into Tobruch. The Axis now headed east, but paused
to send a 7-7-10 far to the south to eliminate a pesky 1-1-12
moving west along the southern edge of the board. But Vince had
purposely exposed that unit in order to execute a 1-2 surrounded
counterattack against the exposed 7-7-10. The attack failed,
and Ed made the situation worse by killing another four British
factors. The Germans now became more methodical in their approach
to the Alam Halfa escarpments and the British were able to land
the November reinforcements. Vince launched another desperate
counterattack, which killed four Axis factors and an axis supply
at the cost of eight allied factors, including a 4-4-7. The Axis
still held the upper hand and now attacked killing six factors,
including the last British 4-4-7.
It was now Dec 1, 1941, and Vince was down to 25 factors.
The British, cramped into the vicinity of the home base, used
14 factors on one critical 1-1 attack vs a German 7-7-10, 3-4-6
and 3-3-10. Four other factors were needed for a 1-5 soakoff.
Incredibly, Vince rolled a D Elim on the 1-1 and an A Back 2
on the soakoff, effectively kneecapping the Afrika Korps.
The tide had turned again as Vince regained the upper hand.
Ed attempted to recover the initiative on the next turn, but
an Exchange killed eight more factors on each side. Those losses
Vince could sustain, but Ed had only six units remaining and
he could no longer both continue the attack and protect the axis
supply line. At this point Ed surrendered a well fought championship
match to Vince, who became our first four-time Afrika Korps
Vince Meconi's Germans stop defending
champ Bert Schoose in the semi-finals with the Holy Hand Grenade.
Ed Menzel comes up short in a bid
for his first AFK crown as Vince Meconi claims his fourth title.