The Russian Campaign Champion:
There can be only one...
This year's Russian Campaign (WBC tournament saw the
defending three-time champion, Gary Dickson, upended by Doug
James in the semi-finals. Not only did this secure Doug the TRC
plaque, but it also garnered him the "Classics Iron Man"
award! Clearly Doug has been practicing in the off season - his
level of play was certainly a notch above the rest this year.
He ascribes much credit to Sensei Pat Flory but this GM suspects
that no small amount of natural talent is present.
The turnout was heavy this year - 33 individuals participated
in 31 tournament matches. Things kicked off with a tutorial Wednesday
night (with eight attendees) followed by a preliminary heat.
Thursday saw two more preliminary rounds that qualified 18 people
for the single-elimination portion of the tournament that would
begin Friday. ("One win and you're in"
was the tournament format; i.e., win any preliminary game and
you were eligible to play in the single-elimination component
of the event.) The Beymas, Frisbys, and Sinigaglios had their
clans represented by more than one warrior - it's good to see
one family member introducing another to the joy of strategic
combat on the Eastern Front! As has been the case for the last
eight years, the ten-turn scenario was used with balancing weather
modifiers and bidding for the Germans. Tom Gregorio assumed the
GM reins from Rob Beyma knowing that he had big footprints to
follow. Tom was lucky to have Gary Dickson and Doug James serve
as assistant GMs - their years of experience helped ensure that
any issues that came up were addressed quickly
The single-elimination (SE) event began early Friday morning;
fortunately two of the 18 qualifiers gave up their slots to participate
in tournaments more dear to them and this made for a perfect
SE bracket of 16. They will be forgiven but only this year. <grin>
The16 grognards remaining counted among them no less than 13
hardy veterans of prior years. This experience was probably relevant
- all eight slots in the next round were filled by veterans.
for the specific match outcomes.) Bidding for the Germans in
the tourney scenario has continued to climb - perhaps a reflection
of a desire to wear scuttle-butt helmets but more likely a conscious
decision to ensure that the opponent doesn't get the Germans
too cheap a price.
Some specific highlights indicate how closely fought the matches
were and the extremes to which players go to in order to compete:
- Gary had to win one of two 1-1 combats to win against Forest.
- Dave won on a last turn 1-2 vs Rostov, but that was justice
for Tom's rolling a 3-1 "Defender Eliminated" in which
he used a stuka to raise the odds on a 1-2 versus two stacks
(three Guard units, including Big-Momma perished).
- Doug endured Gary's Germans getting a Clear Sep/Oct 41 roll
but he had defended with that possibility. Judicious counter-attacks
by the Soviets crushed the left flank of AGC in 1942 and that,
combined with plenty of MUD and SNOW weather that year ensured
that Gary's +4 bid would not hold.
- Rob Beyma, making a difficult decision, chose to singularly
participate in the Waterloo Tournament Final: he conceded
the TRC final to Doug James. (Justice will be served in 2001
if those two meet in the cardboard arena next year...) His strong
defensive play prior to that would have induced hesitation in
anybody contemplating bidding +4 or more for the Germans.
- Both Frisby brothers, Brad and Robert, continue to display
an amazing ability to take more experienced opponents down to
the last turn's rolls. Having seen, and participated in, matches
against them, I know it's only a matter of time before they are
contending for the top spots.
- Tim Greene continues to work on his "Northern" blast
offense. While most players reinforce the Southern front, Tim
is pumping up the Northern forces! The result is usually a German
force *beginning* the September/October 1941 turn on the doorsteps
of Moscow. Unfortunately, the Russian has large forces available
that escaped from the South that usually prevent the Russian
player's early demise. Once Tim perfects his opening, it will
be just a matter of time before others start trying it out too!
Adjudications were minimal and well received - no outcomes
were disputed and this is a testament both to the ability of
the Assistant GM's to analyze a game and the sportsmanship of
the adjudicatees. As always, TRC games between opponents of even
skills were going well over five hours. Luckily, no subsequent
round starts were impacted.
Looking ahead already to next year's event, this GM senses
that the level of play will go even higher. Several WBC TRC participants
were advised to get more involved in the numerous PBeM events;
experience has shown that this is the *quickest* way to get in
combat shape. The tutorial will probably be expanded as this
GM underestimated the level of interest and the amount of material
that should be covered in an 'introduction' to TRC. Knowing that
winning TRC alone can get one the "Iron Man" championship
will probably enlarge the field even further next year. (Perhaps
a 32-person single-elimination component is out of reach in '01
but the trend over the past few years is certainly positive.)
Time management continues to be a concern for this grueling event
- this GM has much to ponder as he tries to ensure that no player
gets an unfair opportunity to 'work the clock' next year. WBC
2001 promises to be even more fun given the increased participation
and high overall skill level. Russian Campaign is simple
to learn but demonstratably hard to master; that alone often
defines a 'classic game' but the consistently high level of playing
skill and game excitement throughout this year's WBC event also
is proof that TRC is a proven winner.