the russian campaign   

Updated Nov. 10, 2014

Grognard Pre-Con

2014 WBC Report  

 2015 Status: pending 2015 GM commitment

Richard Beyma, VA

2014 Champion

Event History
1991    Rob Beyma      31
1992    Alan Frappier      26
1993    Ed O'Connor      20
1994    Jeff Martin      16
1995    Rob Beyma      16
1996    Tom Gregorio      20
1997    Gary Dickson      24
1998    Gary Dickson      27
1999    Gary Dickson     26
2000    Doug James     30
2001    Phil Evans     27
2002    Tom Gregorio     30
2003     Doug James     30
2004    Tom Gregorio     36
2005     Doug James     33
2006     Doug James     23
2007    Bert Schoose     34
2008     Doug James     27
2009     Doug James     39
2010    Bert Schoose     36
2011    John Ohlin     41
2012     Gary Dickson     31
2013    Bert Schoose     26
2014    Richard Beyma     24

PBeM Event History
1999    Gary Dickson      19
2000    Gary Dickson      22
2001    Doug James      23
2002    Gary Dickson      44
2003    Tom Gregorio     40
2006    Doug James     34
2008    Tom Gregorio     31
2010    Gary Dickson     31
2012    Gary Dickson     24
2014    Ed O'Connor     30


Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Gary Dickson       AZ    14    451
  2.  Doug James         NC    14    390
  3.  Tom Gregorio       PA    13    358
  4.  Bert Schoose       IL    14    273
  5.  Rob Beyma          MD    13     96
  6.  John Ohlin         FL    14     89
  7.  Ed O'Connor        NJ    14     87
  8.  Alan Zasada        IL    14     87
  9.  George Karahalios  IL    10     86
 10.  Pat Flory          CT    14     85
 11.  Richard Beyma      VA    14     70
 12.  Phil Evans         VA    04     63
 13.  Jeff Martin        CT    10     48
 14.  Art Lupinacci      on    02     40
 15.  Tim Nielsen        VA    11     36
 16.  Joe Collinson      MD    04     36
 17.  Dave Ketchum       FL    04     36
 18.  Mike Pacheco       CA    10     32
 19.  Joe Angiolillo     CT    10     24
 20.  Gregory M. Smith   PA    12     22
 21.  Ari Kogut          TX    12     22
 22.  Michael Kaye       MD    12     20
 23.  John Malaska       NJ    14     16
 24.  Scott Abrams       CA    06     16
 25.  Forrest Pafenberg  VA    06     16
 26.  Allen Kaplan       NJ    05     16
 27.  Jim Eliason        IA    05     14
 28.  Mike Mishler       CA    14     13
 29.  Michael Trobaugh   IL    14     12
 30.  John Popiden       CA    07     12
 31.  Michael Mitchell   GA    06     12
 32.  Roy Walker         uk    08     10
 33.  Jeff Lange         ae    04     10
 34.  Brad Frisby        MD    01      8
 35.  John Bullis        WI    02      6
 36.  Rob McCracken      DE    05      5
 37.  John Ryan          FL    07      4
 38.  Alex Gregorio      PA    08      3
 39.  Larry Hollern      TX    08      3
 40.  Marty Musella      VA    99      3

2014 Laurelists
Repeating Laurelists: 

Alan Zasada, IL

Gary Dickson, AZ

Michael Trobaugh, IL

Mike Mishler, CA

John Ohlin. FL

Past Winners

Rob Beyma, MD
1991, 1995

Alan Frappier, CT

Ed O'Connor, NJ

Jeff Martin, CT

Tom Gregorio, PA
'96, '02, '04

Gary Dickson, AZ
1997-1999, 2012

Doug James, NC
00, 03, 05-'06, 08-09

Phil Evans, VA

Bert Schoose, IL
2007, 2010, 2013

John Ohlin, FL

Alan Zasada vs Michael Trobaugh as the two Illinois natives fight the battle for state honros at WBC.

GM Tom Gregorio with his two finalists - both looking for their first TRC title.

The Tools of Success ...

The struggle between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union lasted less than four years in 'real life' but our intrepid cardboard warriors have been at it now for 24 years! A lot of worthy competitors have secured their wooden tokens of accomplishment during this time and a superficial analysis might indicate that it's really the same old folks executing similar strategies but the results this year indicate otherwise. While this GM will of course be highlighting the "Russian Campaign" tournament conducted in the summer of 2014 in Lancaster, including individual game highlights, he will also shed some light on some of the nuances of the tournament game.

Tournament Overview:
As part of the "GrognardCon", TRC can be a veritable round-the-clock Vegas Buffet of counter-pushing, dice rolling, and factor counting. Because of the open scheduling, players can participate in tournament games from the first Saturday to the second Saturday at any time. The open rounds cover the initial Saturday through Friday period while the semifinalists contend for wooden glory on the final Saturday. This year we introduced a Friday night "wrinkle": Contenders in positions five through eight of the TRC tournament ranking were allowed to challenge those in the top four slots. The intent was to mitigate general Grognard concerns about players running up their tournament point totals during the early part of the week and then 'dodging' matches in the last few days. It's hard to tell what effect this had for TRC, where 'dodging' was never a tradition, only one challenge match occurred. This GM's belief is that most TRC warriors in the 5-8 positions, by the end of the week, are worn out and have no desire to possibly commit to another 15+ hours of the game over the next 24 hours. As has been highlighted in prior years, a critical part of TRC tournament success is ENDURANCE and many of us are running on fumes by our second Saturday in Lancaster.

Regarding the tournament scenario: For the last eight years we've used the same format, it's a five-turn game covering the launch of Barbarossa through the end of the January/February 1942 turn. To mitigate concerns about lop-sided weather, only September/October is variable with November/December's weather set to 'offset' the prior turn. The Germans have to strive to achieve certain territorial gains while the Russians need to hold Moscow and prevent their opponents from achieving their historical progress. Bidding for sides is utilized, not so much for play balance purposes as to allow players to use the side they're most comfortable with.

For those wanting a quantitative assessment of this year's event, let's review a few key points:

~ There was a slight decline in players, 24, and total games played, 60, from prior years. (In 2013 the corresponding numbers were 26 and 65.)
~ The WBC 5-turn tournament scenario has been in use for eight years. In 2013 the Germans won 50.8% of the games. This year, the Russians improbably won 59.7%.
~ The bid last year was about 14.6,.This year folks bid an average of 15.4. (This is the number of extra Russian replacements the Germans were willing to give over the course of the game.) In the games the German won, they bid 16.3; in the games they lost, the bid was 14.8. (This provides some support for the belief that the bid is not directly related to which side will win and is consistent with results from prior years.) Bids in the semifinal rounds were 18.1 with the Germans winning three of four matches. (There was a playoff for 3rd and 4th.)
~ The weather was fairly balanced with there being 29 "Clear" September/October results recorded and 26 "Light Mud" outcomes. There were four matches that ended before Turn 3 and three matches where neither opponent remembered to update the game record sheet with the weather result.
The Germans won 10 matches with clear, 11 matches with light mud, and four of the seven matches that didn't have a weather result for Turn 3. The Russians won 19 matches with clear and 15 with light mud. (Combined with results from prior years, this GM does not think that Clear weather is of particular advantage to the Russians.)
~ Only two matches featured Moscow falling in 1941, thus giving the Germans an Automatic Victory. One was against me, further proof that I am still being punished for originally claiming that a competent Russian could not lose the game this way. In general, based on the data over the past few years, losing Moscow is becoming ever rarer.

Statistical Conclusions:

~To ensure that TRC continues to be a thriving event at WBC, we will need to implement some changes to help draw new players and bring old players back to the game. Simple examples include scheduled demo sessions, making standard setups available, and highlighting the overwhelming similarity with the third edition of the game may also alleviate concerns about players who don't have access to the fourth edition game. Creating matchups featuring players of similar experience may also help reduce possible shock associated with being thrown into the TRC 'shark tank'.
~ The disproportionate number of Russian wins was as lopsided as it has ever been. Going into this event, I would have assumed that the steadily rising bid for the Germans reflected a belief that the Germans were favored. After looking at some of the individual matchups, and talking to players during the event, it seems clear that another factor associated with the desire to play the Germans is simply that folks are tired of being a punching bag in this scenario! From personal experience, I also believe that playing the Germans is easier as you have the initiative for most of the game and thus don't have to expend as many brain cycles anticipating your opponent's possible countermoves.
~ Very few German players consistently focus on taking Moscow in 1941, there are just too many setups that prevent this and only the sharpest of play combined with superior luck makes this route to an automatic victory a realistic likelihood.

Single Elimination Highlights:
The SE portion of the TRC Grognard event clearly highlighted some important characteristics of the 5-turn scenario that may not be clear to those accustomed to the longer games. In a nutshell: German losses don't matter, 1-2's are viable assaults if properly planned for, and you can't count on your opponent making stupid mistakes. The four semifinalists brought to the table a ton of experience, a willingness to gamble, and a craving for wood. All the matches went the distance.

Semifinal 1: The first elimination match set Mike Trobough as the Germans with a bid of 15 against Alan Zasada's Russians.

May/June 1941: Leveraging excellent die rolls, Mike obliterated Alan's units in the Military Districts. The Russian defensive response featured a traditional line from Riga to Minsk and a strong defense of the Bug River in the South.
July/August 1941: Mike AVed the Bug defenders but did not break the Dneiper River in the south. Progress in the center was made as far as Smolensk and a 1-2 Finnish assault on Leningrad was thrown back.
September/October 1941: Light Mud weather saw the Russian defenders pushed out of Dnepropetrovsk, the fall of Kiev and Bryansk and the Finns pushing the Leningrad defenders back with a successful 1-2 attack. Alan's Russians counterattack succeeded in pushing the Germans out of Dnepropetrovsk.
November/December 1941: German assaults on Kharkov, Stalino, and Sevastopol were all turned aside. The Russians rushed the Guards to the Ukraine where they successfully created some breathing room for the defenders of Kharkov and Stalino.
January/February 1942: With their combat strength halved in the snow, the Germans were unable to mount a serious threat to the victory cities and Alan advanced to his first TRC Final.

Semifinal 2: The other bracket had Richard Beyma playing Gary Dickson again. (Gary had previously prevailed during the open portion of the tournament.) Determined to win as the Germans, Richard took them with a tournament topping bid of 25, i.e., the Russians would be getting FIVE extra replacement points every turn!

May/June 1941: Numerous EX and DR results had Richard cringing, having to fight the same Russian units twice on the opening turn is NEVER a good sign.
July/August 1941: The Germans ground their way forward.
September/October 1941: Light mud weather was rolled which, in this particular situation, was exactly what the Germans wanted. (The Russians had defended with a bias towards a Clear weather roll.) The "flank cities" of Leningrad and Sevastopol both fell. (These cities are particularly important in this scenario as they are very hard to recapture.)
November/December 1941: Kharkov fell to the Germans on a 1-1 while subsequent Russian counterattacks recaptured Bryansk and Vitebsk from the Germans.
January/February 1942: On this snowy turn, the Russians needed to recover Kharkov. They had two 1-2 attacks lined up on the city, needing to win one. Alas, the Germans withstood Gary's attack and, with that, secured for Richard a berth in the final round.

Final: The last match of the tournament featured Richard Beyma as the Wehrmacht with a bid of 21 against Alan Zasada, both were playing their favored side.

May/June 1941: Wielding yet another important tool in the German opening arsenal, Richard used the "MOO" against Alan. (For those not familiar with this opening, the central theme is achieving a 10-1 Automatic Victory against the Russian Odessa defender on the second impulse of the first turn. Breaching the Bug River can put the Soviets in an awkward position but they are often compensated by the fact that their forces elsewhere will not be pounded as hard because of the reallocation of panzers to the south.)
July/August 1941: The Germans breach the Dneiper river. This can be very important as the Germans want to get into the Victory Point-rich area stretching from Kursk to Rostov. Young Beyma's gambit of sea invading with the 40th Panzer Corps in the Black Sea did not succeed and the sea floor was soon littered with German armor. Nevertheless, German tanks, by virtue of their advanced positions at the start of Turn 2, found themselves at the outskirts of Stalino.
September/October 1941: Clear weather enabled the Germans to have shots at three major cities. Kharkov and Stalino fell while Leningrad withstood the Nazi tanks. Alan's riposte was lethal - his 1-1 counterattack on three surrounded panzer corps in Kharkov saw the German defenders eliminated and some clever maneuvering stalled the German push on Sevastopol.
November/December 1941: With the snow falling furiously, Richard pulls one out of his... hat. Rolling TWO sixes on two 1-2 attacks, he eliminates the Russians in Leningrad and Kharkov! Soviet counterattacks on these cities fail.
January/February 1942: Needing to only hold his current positions, the Germans pile up their units in Bryansk, Stalino, and Kharkov. (Because of the victory conditions, the Germans need only contest these cities to win.) The Russians didn't have the forces necessary to both clear the defenders and occupy the city and so Richard earned his first WBC TRC championship.

Closing Thoughts
The Chicago Clique continues to be strongly represented with both Alan and Michael hailing from that region - both of these players are now breathing rarified TRC air. Gary Dickson had hopes of getting his fifth TRC wood but foundered on the rock that was Richard in 2014. (It should be noted that when this GM refers to "wood" in his reports, he's only referring to first place plaques, not the 'other wood' that some dismissively refer to as fit only for kindling.) Not to put too fine a point on it, Richard faced some incredibly tough competition this year and certainly put in his time by playing nine five-hour TRC matches before the semifinals began. To add further context, this son of two-time TRC champ Robert Beyma, defeated four TRC champions who had collected 11 WBC titles! (Also noteworthy is the fact that Gary Dickson and this GM were Richard's WBC "Team Tournament" teammates and our new TRC champ showed no hesitation in dumping both of us from our designated team events.) Well done, Richard.

Looking forward to 2015, this GM hopes to see the 25th Anniversary of TRC at WBC to be one noted for a large number of entrants, innovative setups, and fiendish tactics. Will youth continue to assert itself on the hexes of the Motherland or will the chastened veterans have their redemption? Join us next year in Lancaster to find out.

 Four-time champion Gary Dickson vs the newest member of the WBC TRC champions club, Richard Beyma.

 Play By Email 2014

After two years of single elimination play encompassing 29 games between 30 opponents, Ed O'Connor's Russians defeated Pat "the TRC Sensei" Flory in the 10-turn scenario in a hard fought match. Despite the attrition favoring the Germans, i.e., the Germans lost less than expected and the Russians more, Ed's tight play combined with the Germans admittedly less than aggressive style at the tail end of the game helped Ed land the victory. While the Germans had a good chance of capturing Leningrad, and possibly Moscow, a German capture of Kursk would have been decidedly an uphill proposition. The dice favored the Germans early but 1942 saw the luck swing the other way and, combined with lousy (pro-German) weather, gave the Red Army the path to victory. Stay tuned for the announcement of the tenth edition of the 2014 BPA-Sponsored TRC PBeM Tournament; as the champ, Ed will soon get to enjoy the new experience of being the man with the target on his back!

Laurels for third through sixth place were won by John Malaska, Doug James, Bert Schoose and John Ohlin and are reflected in the updated totals above.

 GM      Tom Gregorio  [15th Year]   1650 Chadwyck Place, Blue Bell, PA 19422    484-744-1086

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