Continuing the longstanding tradition of strategic excellence, 281 elite gamers queued up for and competed in the 2023 Can’t Stop World Championships. The room was filled with laughter, mental probability crunching, and far too much stopping. While it is well known as the hardest and most complex of the WBC late night games, the Can’t Stop tournament is also a grind and not for the faint at heart or easily tired.
We started signing in at 10:40 this year with the help of two wonderful AGMs and by 11:15 all 281 players were seated and playing. Somehow though, despite 281 entrants, there were somehow only 70 first round scoresheets submitted. With three of those winners bowing out of the grueling evening that awaited it gave us 67 combatants for the second round. A callout to a few interesting results in the first round. First to the crayon crew, who filled out their scoresheets incredibly legibly (or not) with the crayons provided. That’s Nate Heiss, Beth Wynter, Nick Henning, Elliot Parauda and D Smith.
Also, to Amy Powers and Nick Avtges Jr who mastered the center of the board with claiming all of 6-7-8. And lastly, the ones who couldn’t do anything the easy way, Marc Houde’s 2-3-11, Rachel Cook’s 2-10-12, Carl Sykes 3-11-12, and Evan Boone’s 2-4-12.
We would be remiss at this point if we didn’t call out the fantastic job that Sara Ward does as AGM of this event. With the purple hat in the corner, she gathers the first-round winners and gets them immediately sorted into second round games. She has done this for years now, but her coordination means that no one must wait for their second-round games to start, and everyone but the 17 Semifinalists get to go home as early as possible. It is not possible without a team of people, and I am incredibly grateful that she gives her time to this event.
In the second-round things got more serious, with 17 tables of players all fighting for the chance to make a late night Semifinal. Interestingly getting to go first seemed to be a curse in the second round with only 3 of 17 first players making it through to the Semifinal.
That brought us to Semifinalist. And unfortunately, a bunch of players who had to wait an hour for the rest of the rounds 1-2 games to finish. As anyone who has run a tournament can tell you, 17 is not the ideal number of Semifinalists in a 4-player game. To resolve this, we ran a 5-player game with a benefit. A guarantee that the 2nd place player at the 5-player game would get 5th place laurels (and Can’t Sop laurels are the sweetest laurels).
King of the Late Nights, Adam Hurd (he now has laurels in CNS, SLS, PGF, and GMs LAS) was up to the challenge at the 5-player table, using 4-9-10 to quickly dispatch his rivals Elliot Parauda, Kurt Hoffman, Philip Shea, and Linsey Saccenti who only managed 4 columns between them.
Table 2 was incredibly tight as Luke McInnes edged out a win with 6-11-12 over Kurt Kramer’s 4-8 and Evan Boone’s 5-7. We will assume that Dacey Collinson forgot to record her columns in that game.
The third Semifinal had a little less excitement as Eric Speaker got a 5-10-11 win over his opponents.
And the last Semifinal table was another tough fight. Macsen Powers was in the game till the end holding the 2-3 columns (which secured 6th place laurels) but was eventually overcome by Eric Moffit’s 4-6-8. Michael McKibbin and Zacary Morris had a column each.
And that got us to the Final. Starting at just before 2am, the brave four stepped to the giant board to play the ultimate game of Can’t Stop for 2023. After the ever-tense colour selection process (Adam settled on Purple, Eric M on his lucky Yellow, Luke took Blue, leaving Eric S with Green). Would the colour selection make a difference? Only time would tell.
The Final ended up being a tale of shifting strategy that did not necessarily come home as after the first round, only young Eric Moffit had any cones on the board. But his cones were a very tentative three 8’s, two 6’s, and a 5. Would that slow and steady pace be able to get him his first ever shield? It would depend on whether he could maintain his steely nerves.
In the second round everyone fell off, so after eight turns there was still only Eric’s tentative starting play on the board. That made everyone a little more timid in the third round as both Luke and Eric S got some early cones up and Adam flailed about scoring nothing. Eric M got even more skittish and stopped after getting only four 7’s, a 12, and one more 6.
The fourth round saw the game open a little bit more. Eric S got 3 more placements on the board, and Eric M ran a 7-8-10 to get within four spots of capping 7. (Adam still flailed about putting no cones on the board in the first 4 rounds).
After 4 rounds, the board was in this state:
- 12: Eric M – 1
- 11: Luke – 1, Eric S – 2
- 10: Eric M – 2
- 9: Eric S – 1
- 8: Eric S – 1, Eric M – 5
- 7: Eric S – 3, Luke – 4, Eric M – 9
- 6: Eric S – 3, Eric M – 3, Luke – 4
- 5: Eric M – 2
- 4: Eric S – 2
- 3: nothing
- 2: nothing
Only one person did not fall off in round 5 (spoiler alert: it wasn’t Adam) but Luke’s run of 8-6-2 got him all the way to cap the sixes and be the first on the board. However, he got it through a run of exclusively 6’s so Eric M’s board position might still have made him the favourite at this point.
Round 6 saw both Eric’s fall off again (and Adam obviously). But Luke made a slow and steady play to erase Eric’s board advantage. He was now in a prime position to drive home to a win.
Round 7 saw Adam finally take a turn that impacted the game (maybe he’d been taking a long washroom break to this point?) only to see one of his three cones immediately taken out by Eric M’s charge up the 7’. That cap, along with his lead position on 8’s made Eric the favourite again. Eric S had made a valiant stab at 4-8-10 this round but fell one short of capping 4.
Round 8 saw the first serious inflection point of the game. Adam had finally gotten better dice luck and matched Eric M’s cone four from the top of 8 while also getting one from the top of 4. Eric M fell off for the third time in a row (he had abandoned the earlier timid strategy and shifted to a more aggressive stance) but then Luke came through and matched Adam’s one from top of 4’s and got within two of 8’s. Eric S also fell leaving a board state after 8 rounds like this:
- 12: Eric M – 1
- 11: Luke – 1, Eric S – 2
- 10: Eric M – 3, Luke – 3
- 9: Eric S – 1, Luke – 1, Adam – 1, Eric S – 2
- 8: Eric S – 1, Eric M – 7, Adam – 7, Luke – 9
- 7: Capped by Eric M
- 6: Capped by Luke
- 5: Eric M – 2
- 4: Eric S – 2, Adam - 6, Luke – 6
- 3: Adam – 1
- 2: Luke – 1
Round 9 saw no real movement except for Luke rolling 8-10 and then choosing to not continue and try for his win by rolling the last 4. The other three players all fell off that round.
Round 11 would end up being the last. Adam tried to prolong the game and capped 4’s removing Luke’s easiest path, but Luke persevered on 10’s to get his third cap and secure the ever-coveted championship.
With a further from centre cap, Adam secured second place and Eric Moffit had the remaining cap in the middle to get third. Unfortunately, Eric Speaker never capped a column and got fourth.
Many, many thanks to all who played this year, and we are looking forward to more dice in 2024!
Last year we started asking everyone to note on their scoresheet who was start player. In 2022, only 22% of players who went first won their games (18 out of 81). This year it was higher with 32% of winners going first. Interestingly though, none of the players who went first in the Semifinal nor the Final won their game.
As for the numbers, this was the distribution this year:
- Three was used by 19% of winners (+8% compared to 2022)
- Four was used by 19% of winners (-1% compared to 2022)
- Five was used by 18% of winners (-8% compared to 2022)
- Six was used by 37% of winners (-6% compared to 2022)
- Seven was used by 36% of winners (-12% compared to 2022)
- Eight was used by 39% of winners (+3% compared to 2022)
- Nine was used by 25% of winners (+1% compared to 2022)
- Ten was used by 31% of winners (+11% compared to 2022)
- Eleven was used by 16% of winners (even compared to 2022)
- Twelve was used by 34% of winners (+4% compared to 2022)
What does this mean? We have almost five hundred games of data and the only clear trend is that players on average tend to see higher numbers as better. Not sure what real edge a player can get from that, but consistently the average player will decide to try for higher value columns rather than their lower value equivalents.
Thank you again to everyone for playing and especially to my wonderful AGMs. It is a fun tournament to run, and I look forward to seeing you all next year.