Many (In)geni(o)uses once again gathered for some late-night action with this abstract classic. Despite worries by the GM about moving the tournament one day earlier, so that it took place Monday-Thursday instead of Tuesday-Friday, this year’s tournament featured a bigger crowd than last year, hopefully initiating a new period of growth.
After a modestly attended but successful demo on Monday, the first heat drew 61 players. Despite some schedule conflicts reducing turnout, 16 games were played, including the only three-player games of the tournament. Despite having the smallest number of games, the first heat boasted two perfect scores of 18, the most of any heat, achieved by Jeff Mullet and Robert St. Pierre. Aidan Powers achieved by far the lowest winning score of the tournament when he triumphed with a mere 4 points. Just goes to show that the only thing that matters in Ingenious is having more points than your opponents do!
A second demo, also modestly attended but successful, preceded the second heat on Tuesday night. This heat in Seasons was our only time outside Foggy Goggle, but the walk to the Ski Lodge didn’t seem to deter players. The second heat drew 80 players in 20 games, including 38 players who hadn’t attended the first heat. Karen Roberts was the only one to score 18, though three players came very close with 17.
The third heat on Wednesday night drew 84 players in 21 games, including 28 players in their first heat. Bailey Burdett achieved the last perfect score of the tournament, and only 6.45% of all games played this year ended with a perfect score. Although no one scored 17 in the third heat, scores were distributed more evenly than in other heats, with two scores of 16, three of 15, and two of 14.
The 57 games in the heats yielded 49 unique winners. No one won three heats, so Megan Mossman was the top qualifier with two wins and a second place, closely followed by Matthew Hathrell with the same. In all, 23 players posted at least a win and a second. Winnowing a large field down to 16 is always a challenge, but this year’s semifinals were especially competitive since all of the spots were filled by the 18 top qualifiers. Semifinalists were seated randomly. The semifinal table consisting of Kara Alexandra, Cameron Church, Ewan McNay, and Bruce Rae wins the prize hands-down for the most fun table of the tournament, judging by laughter and merriment, but it was also the most AP-inducing, featuring a tight situation where players needed different colors and desperately tried to create opportunities with limited space. Cameron triumphed with 10 points, but Bruce Rae tied him and earned fifth-place laurels. Zacary Morris lost his semifinal by only a point and earned sixth-place laurels. Ray Wolff posted the biggest score in the semifinal with an impressive 14. Other winners were Indigo Breza and Matthew Hathrell with 12 and 11 points respectively.
Indigo, Cameron, Matt, and Ray sat down for an intense final immediately after the semifinals. Indigo began an early red cluster and capitalized on red for the first Ingenious of the game. Purple, yellow, and green were also developed, and Matt diversified with significant points in all of those and in red. Meanwhile, Cameron jumped to an early yellow lead, and he and Ray began to diversify. The closing of the early green cluster shaped the game: Indigo looked strong with 18 in green, and Matt had a solid 12, but Ray only had 9 and Cameron only had 7. Many plays on purple, orange, and then blue followed. Cameron was first to three Ingeniouses, but Matt took a commanding lead when in one turn he Ingenioused orange and yellow and snagged significant blue and purple points. Indigo and Ray rapidly moved up on blue and yellow and Ray did on purple too. But four total Ingeniouses couldn’t save Indigo from drawing no purple, and, after using the game’s only exchange on purple, Indigo was also locked out of blue, allowing Cameron to sneak into third place on the tiebreak. Ray took second with strong scores in everything but green, and Matt won with four Ingeniouses, 16 in blue, and his solid green score. Final scores: Matt 12, Ray 9, Cameron 7 (13), Indigo 7 (10).
The finalists followed the game with a fascinating debrief despite the late hour. Matt credited his win to good tile draws, especially lots of single-color tiles, though he certainly knew how to use them well. In some discussion of first-play strategy, Matt noted that he plays against the edge of the board if he doesn’t want the color to expand quickly, to general assent. During the game, Matt astutely noted that everyone who reached the final has good spatial awareness, and Indigo shared the secret of holding up a tile to look at its potential position on the board, quipping, “It got me this far!”
Unfortunately, several players were turned away for lack of copies of the game in both the second and third heats. If you can bring a copy in future years, please do! Fortunately, however, no games required adjudication. Two demos allowed more opportunities for players to learn the game, but the extra demo didn’t seem to impact overall attendance. Given the competitiveness of semifinal qualification this year, a quarterfinal might be considered for the future to allow more players to advance, at least those with a first and second. And for stats lovers, the median winning score was 13 and the median second-place score was 11.
Many thanks to Assistant GMs Ewan McNay and Joe Yaure, as well as to Robert St. Pierre, Andrew Drummond, and Holly Saccenti for helping provide more copies of the game.