In contrast to previous years, the results from the 2017 heats showed no first-player advantage, with the player who went first only winning sixteen of the 67 four player heat games, while 21 were won by the player going second, 17 by the player going third, and 13 by the player going last. If we include the four-player games from the elimination rounds, the number of wins from the four positions were 17, 27, 20, and 17, so the two positions generally preferred and bid on, first and fourth, tied for fewest wins, while the second to play, which received only one non-zero bid over 15 elimination-round games, had the most wins.
Bids remained small, with the average bid being .57 for first, .04 for second, .07 for third and .39 for fourth, with no bid over 1. For the first time, a bid changed the winner of a game. But this bid had a big effect on the tournament as a whole as Sky Roy would have won his quarterfinal game over Janet Ottey on tiebreakers but he had bid a point to go first, while Janet had gone third with a zero bid. Therefore, Janet went on to the semifinals and eventually won the tournament.
Scores ranged from 34, achieved by Romain Jacques and Rebecca Roppolo, to minus 6. Margins of victory ranged from Rebecca's 18 point victory in her 34 point game to 6 games decided on tiebreakers.
One semifinal game was marked by heavy use of the administrator with 12 flushes of the board, 6 of them consecutive, in the game that sent Dalton Versak to the final.
In another semifinal, Ricky Boyes, who had bid half a point to go fourth, made effective use of the fourth seat. He was able to extend the game by a turn after the other players had scored their routes, triggering the endgame on the next turn to win the game on tiebreakers.
The cards were not kind to Sceaudeau in his semifinal game, he was forced to discard his route on turn two and again later in the game, to finish a distant fourth in the game that sent Janet to the final.
GM Andy Latto bid half a point for fourth in my semifinal game which started out with good starting cards for the other three players but not for Andy. But later in the game, the cards fell perfectly for Andy, allowing him to play all 20 houses and win his semifinal by 9.5 points.
The final was very exciting. Ricky bid .5 for fourth and Andy increased the bid for fourth to 1. Since Dalton and Janet had bid 0 for second and third respectively, Ricky was able to get first for a zero bid.
Sometimes fourth position is a great start, but not in this game! The initial cards had lots of good starting pairs, but by the time it came to fourth position, there were 3 Wurzberg on the board, and the only adjacent pair was Wurzberg-Nurnberg, a terrible start. Andy decided that such a terrible start would not win against 3 good players and gambled on drawing a card from the deck, drawing Basel. Andy ended up discarding his route on turn 2.
Dalton and Andy both faced awkward card draws later in the game, and each of them scored an 8-route, not the most efficient plan. They were both good, high-scoring, 8-routes, but it put them out of contention for the 7 carriage, so the race to trigger the endgame was between Ricky and Janet, who both had 6 carriages while Dalton and Andy lagged behind with 5 carriages. When Linz showed up on the board a turn too late for Andy, he voluntarily discarded a second one-card route, abandoning a white route to start a Budweis-Linz route to score the red-orange bonus.
Janet got one turn ahead in the race to end the game and when she played a fourth card in her route with a card remaining in hand, everyone thought she was about to end the game, so Ricky and Dalton scored their routes. At this point, everyone learned that Janet wasn't in fact ready to end the game and had taken the huge gamble of leaving herself with no card to extend her route! She used the administrator and her gamble paid off, the right card showed up on the board, that connected her route with her remaining card and she was able to continue her route this turn and score it with the Cartwright on the next turn. The unexpected turn was of no use to Ricky or Dalton, who had just scored their routes. Usually the player who plays after a player who uses this tactic can benefit from the extra turn, but with a Budweis-Linz-Passau route, Andy could not reach any other colors to place a fourth house and all the long-route bonuses had already been taken, so only Janet benefitted from the final turn.
If the gamble Janet had taken had not worked, she surely would have finished a distant fourth. But the final scoring showed that she had correctly judged the big gamble to be necessary. She had tied with Ricky and won on tiebreakers by triggering game end! With a final scores at 23, 23, 21, reduced to 20 because of bid, and 20, this was the smallest spread from first to fourth the GM has ever seen in a game of Thurn and Taxis. Janet's big gamble had paid off with a well-deserved win.