Salts Triumphant ...
Now, who could bring themselves to
fire on Ruth Evinger's fleet? Apparently, it wasn't a problem
for our usual suspects.
GM Bill Alderman keeps close rein
on Rob Kilroy who has yet to win the event but is the 7th ranked
The event attracted many of the usual suspects, including
Evingers aplenty, and some new folks as well. The games played
quickly, none close to pushing the 3-hour time limit. Seven past
champions were present with few winning their heats, although
several tried all three times. Still, the mix of qualifiers included
only familiar faces.
The Heats produced 11 tables. All winners, and only winners,
advanced to the Final, which by tradition, starts at Noon on
Sunday. Matt Evinger won his first heat and played in all three,
winning another, to narrow the qualifiers to ten. Last year we
had 12 finalists, but this year only six opted for another round,
every one of whom had been in at least one prior Final. It would
be a far different experience. There were to be no 'excused on
account of low score' issues. Last year we had a change of venue
due to needing a larger table. This year we did so due to unbearable
heat & humidity, adjourning to Wheatland, which was much
more comfortable, though we did have to contend with a raucous
Circus Maximus Final taking shelter in the same room.
The first Hand went quickly as the six players engaged in
a feeding frenzy on whoever was hurtin'. Rob Kilroy and Matt
Evinger were shut out. Dale Long made the strategic error of
leading too soon with 66 points. The second Hand ended with Rob
still sporting a goose egg, Matt Evinger with 32, 2006 champ
Evan Hitchings 70, and his dad with 97. The Third Hand was to
be determinative. It seemed that Tim Hitchings led a charmed
life. He always had the cards he needed to get out of trouble,
or to successfully board and take prizes, and the good die rolls
to make them work. Multiple attempts were made to Blockade, Break
the Line, Board, damage or sink Tim's ships, some with very high
odds of success, but to no avail! Meanwhile, Dale Long sat there
with no way of capturing anything and just barely hanging on
with a single ship. Matt seemed to always draw the wrong card,
though he had plenty of ships. Bill Powers took advantage of
these failings to finally score points, but from a long way back.
Evan found himself boxed in, and like Dale, subject to much attention.
He finally threw in the towel, and just went hunting for fun.
Rob meanwhile, with no natural enemies, emerged as a steady menace,
sinking ships with great frequency. The day ended with Tim leading
with 139, and Rob second with 104 - all scored during the last
hand. Dale Long hung on to third place with 85, beating out Bill
Powers, yet again, who had 84. Matt Evinger finished with 48,
a new low for the two-time champion.
You need period visual aides to see
across those wide tables.
GM Bill Alderman oversees his motley
crew of finalists.