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El Grande (ELG) WBC 2019 Event Report
Updated November 4, 2019.
69 Players Dominic Blais 2019 Status 2020 Status Event History
2019 Champion & Laurels

El Grande Continues Strong Growth!

El Grande stuck to an earlier schedule this year, and thanks in part to Eric Freeman’s effort at coordinating Euro game schedules, attendance rose considerably from the last couple of years. It didn’t hurt that this year we didn’t have to turn away anyone from lack of games, although it came close a couple of times.

Coincidentally, we managed to have almost entirely 5 player games for the whole event. That’s my preferred player count for this game. There are arguments for 4 player (not the least of which is that the play time runs a bit shorter), but the gameplay changes a bit.

Every year I struggle with the two-hour time limit, as some games can run close. We had updated adjudication rules in place for this year, and although the use of them was threatened, no games saw them used.

Rebecca Roppolo was the sole double-winner from this year’s heats. She joined twenty other winners and four alternates to fill out the semi-finals. In a slightly unusual occurrence, there were zero no-shows for the semifinals.

At the first semifinal, Rob Flowers managed a 16 point win over Kirk Porteous. In the second, Alex Bove bested Jefferson Meyer by only 2 points. At the third table, Tim Mossman squeaked by Sam Wolff by one point (getting Sam 6th place in the tournament.) In the fourth game, Dominic Blais had a 10 point win over Doug Faust. The fifth table saw Bill Herbst top Micah McCormick by just 2 points.

Thus the final featured former champions Rob Flowers, Alex Bove, and Tim Mossman. Dominic Blais has made it to the final table previously, but not won the event; and this was Bill Herbst’s first appearance.

In the starting setup, Rob’s Grande was in Seville, with the other four players drawing the provinces on the upper part of the board. The King started in New Castile. Alex started off with a bid of 11. Dominic read the board situation correctly and bid a 12. No one was willing to bid 13, so Dominic got an early jump in board presence on the nearly empty board and shut down movement options.

Scoring cards for the first round put Tim in the lead with 10 points, with Alex and Bill not far behind. Rob and Dominic were near the back. However, Dominic had a board position lead of 15 points over the nearest competitor.

Over the next two rounds, Dominic caught a break in that none of the 1 stack or 2 stack cards could really hurt his board position too much, and he maintained a least 8 points potential score over the next player. A couple of scoring cards put Bill into the lead (by 8) with 22 points prior to the Castillo scoring. Great minds thought alike during the drop, whereby three players went to New Castile and two players went to Valencia. Bill hung on to his lead with 40 points over Dominic’s 35, the rest trailing.

Scoring cards over the next three rounds brought Dominic to the lead with 44 points, with the rest close except Tim, who was about 10 points behind. Rob used his 1-13 bidding cards to help shore up his position, though frankly it only brought him somewhat even with the board position of the others thanks to earlier sub-par play.

Alex then put the 8/4/0 on his home province of Catalonia. Rob made a couple of runs to contest it over the last half of the game, but only managed to get some second place scores while distracting Alex from other ventures. This allowed Dominic to use his Castillo drop to good effect in round 6, taking over Valencia and getting the lead for the first time in the game at 66, with Alex at 63 and the rest in the 50’s.

During the last half of the game, the King movement worked in Dominic’s favor, bouncing between Seville (Rob’s home province) and Aragon (Bill’s home province), or not moving at all, permitting Dominic a consistent source of points for second place in Aragon, and limiting options for all.

Three more scoring cards were executed in the latter third of the game, but Dominic was able to take part in all of them, so although board position was more equal at this point, it felt like a race for second place.

After the final scoring round, Dominic held on for a comfortable 9 point win over Alex’s second place with the others spaced out several points each behind Alex.

2019 Laurelists Repeating Laurelists: 2
Alex Bove William Herbst Tim Mossman Rob Flowers Sam Wolff
2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
Adding Influence in Spain. Where should I go next?
Contemplating the next move. Finalists including GM Rob Flowers.
GM  Rob Flowers [17th Year]  NA
 epworthian@gmail.com  NA