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Subject: The 2016 FWC Final as it happened rss

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Guy Atkinson
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The eleventh Friedrich World Championships are over. The following is a brief report of the hard-fought final put together from my turn-by-turn notes plus the comments of the players themselves.

The finalists

This year the players all needed three wins in the heats for the honour of playing on the last table.

Peter H, who, just as in 2014, decided to play in the role of Maria Theresa despite classifying first;
José Luis B, a veteran from Spain in his first final, who played as Friedrich, no doubt hoping to continue his unbeaten run (five victories out of five) in this role;
Martin H, in only his second championship. He scored a double Austria/Imperial Army win for 13 points in round two. Martin opted to play as France;
Christian B, reigning world champion, who bounced back from scoring only five points in the first round to take the role of Elizabeth in the final.

Opening phase

The game started pretty conventionally. In East Prussia, Lehwahlt ran away, chased by Apraxin and Tottleben, who managed to eliminate him in turn four. Saltikov and Fermor, with eleven troops launched attritional attacks against Dohna, capturing objectives in Neumark and Kammin while drawing some large clubs from Friedrich’s hand for acceptable losses. Friedrich had a strong clubs hand though and was confident he could hold out for many rounds.

Meanwhile Heinrich shadowed the Swedes to prevent the early fall of Melchin and Anklam.

In Hanover, Richelieu and Chevert marched north to take Diepholz and Minden, while in the south, Cumberland spent his reserve to take a -2 retreat leaving him with three troops against Soubise’s four, thus setting up the Manni (repeatedly taking a -1 retreat) defence.

In the centre of the board, Lacy was sent west along the good Bohemian roads to escort the Imperial Army while the bulk of the Austrian army massed north of Prague before invading the clubs sector in Lower Silesia. Thus they were in a good central position from where they could attack Saxony or Silesia or both.

Invasion of Saxony

With nothing like enough diamonds for an Austrian victory, in turn four Peter decides to go all out to win with the Imperial Army. Two white armies occupy Dresden with more forces coming up behind and Hildi closely covered by Lacy. Just one army stays behind in the clubs sector in Silesia, and even that will soon march west.

To counter this threat the Prussians form a triple stack in Saxony and Schwerin rushes back towards Brandenburg, cleverly using a supply train to avoid fighting the Austrians in clubs. Keith is left behind in Upper Silesia just in case. Friedrich has plenty of diamonds and is confident he can hold out.

In Kammin, the Russians continue wearing down the defence, drawing a high club then retreating as quickly as possible. The conquerors of East Prussia stack in Poland in order to reorganise. One of them, now with only one troop will have to return to put down the two rebellious Prussian cities, the other will march west to bolster the forces facing Dohna. To forestall the union of all three Russian armies, the Prussians launch a counterattack in turn six. At -4 after the first Prussian card, Christian thinks long and hard before replying with an eleven of clubs. He is obviously worried that Friedrich may be able to smash his main force before the reinforcements arrive. However he manages to slip away for the loss of only two troops and disaster is avoided.

The Swedes make the most of the absence of Heinrich to pick up a couple of primary objectives and to march towards Kammin to support the Russians.

Faced with the concentrated Prussian defenders, the Austrians spread out across Saxony. Given the obvious risk of encirclement, if the Prussians attack it means that they are confident of their advantage in diamonds and they will have to be starved out. The blue stack closes with Karl von Lothringen, 11 to 8. The Austrians beat a hasty retreat without playing a card. There’s nothing for it but to try to cut their supply lines.

Ferdinand retreats into Brandenburg, hoping to put his strong hearts to good use. He must however give up the remaining central Hanoverian objectives. Martin only needs to take Halberstadt and Magdeburg, will his hearts hand be strong enough?

The first card of fate announces the death of the composer Händel. At this point, the players all look very serious, there is an intense struggle ahead.

Bad luck followed by worse

Confident of their advantage in diamonds, the Prussian triple stack stands its ground in Meißen, waiting for Schwerin to come up with reinforcements. Heinrich and Lehwaldt defend Magdeburg against Richelieu. Dohna will have to continue fending for himself alone in Kammin.

Cumberland comes back on after having been eliminated through lack of supply the previous turn, but the French are not far away.

The three Russian armies play cat and mouse with Dohna. One attacks while the others block the exits into spades and hearts. Typically the battles draw one large club from Friedrich’s hand before the Russians beat a retreat.

The Swedes manage to sneak round behind and capture Cammin, they then attack Dohna who retreats immediately.

The Austrians avoid combat and start to set up a blockade around Berlin and hunt down the Prussian supply trains. Protected by two white armies, Hildi is in clubs, waiting for an opportunity to advance to take the objectives round Dresden. The Prussian stack launches spoiling attacks, Karl von Lothringen pays the price and retreats immediately.

The French are also biding their time. Richelieu captures Halberstadt and then waits on the Elbe just west of Magdeburg.

The second card of fate is Lord Bute and the third Poems. José Luis is a veteran and can cope with one subsidy reduction, but both and very early on against expert players is a tall order. The Prussians will have a hard time of it. But there is worse to come...

Disaster in Saxony

The Russians only need to take one last objective to win, so Lehwaldt is sent north to recapture some Swedish objectives and strengthen the defence in Kammin.

Leipzig and Nurnburg fall to Hildi, who carefully avoids combat.

The Austrians have managed to eliminate the Prussian supply trains and completely cut off Saxony from Berlin. It is only a matter of time before the Prussians are starved out, then... the card of fate puts them prematurely out of supply! Only now does it dawn on José Luis that the Imperial Army is the main threat.

The triple stack breaks up and two Prussians launch desperate attacks southwards from which they cannot return. The king himself with just four troops retires north to home territory in Jüterbog on the spades/diamonds border. Winderfeldt tries to break the blockade round Berlin, but the Austrians just take a quick -1 retreat and slip away, the supply line is still cut. The Hanoverians are also having problems. Cumberland briefly recaptures Diepholz but is then overwhelmed by superior French forces. The French have also eliminated the Hanoverian supply train and blocked the retreat routes back - Ferdinand makes one last desperate attack against the Austrians and then comes off the board. Pompadour can use all her hearts against the Prussians now.

The entire Austrian army now invades from the north and forms a screen across Saxony to allow Hildi to get to Dresden and Pirna.

Russian and Swedish pressure in Cammin is unrelenting. From diamonds, the Swedes draw quite a number of Prussian clubs and a much-needed reserve before being routed. The next turn, the Russians attack again. Dohna is cornered in north-west Kammin and can only retreat by one or be eliminated. He spends every last club he has, but survives.

Then finally, a break for Friedrich, the Czarina dies at the end of turn twelve. The players take a well-deserved break.

Fighting around Halle

Having cleared Saxony, the Austrians now mass in hearts to allow the Imperial Army to take Torgau and Bitterfeld. Hildi still needs to take Rochlitz, which can be defended from diamonds, so Torgau and Bitterfeld must be taken quickly, before the Prussians can rebuild their defence.

There is a snag though. The French only need to take Magdeburg to win. Thus if the the Prussian hand is severely drained of hearts, victory will be presented to Madame de Pompadour on a silver platter.

Yet it is the Prussians who take the initiative. Friedrich and Heinrich preemptively attack the Austrians. Desperate to defend the last Imperial primary objective, José Luis is prepared to commit everything he has. Slightly outnumbered, he spends over eighty points in hearts before the Austrians break off. There are only about twenty cards left all told in the Prussian hand now.

In his turn, Peter recruits, forms a triple stack and counterattacks. Ideally he can achieve a -2 Prussian retreat to Magdeburg and deny the French victory for a turn or more. But Friedrich stands his ground, spending his two last reserves at full value and another fourteen points in small cards before being forced to retreat with just diamonds in his hand.

This is France’s chance! Needing to make Friedrich retreat two spaces, Richelieu uses a reserve and then a thirteen to put Friedrich and Heinrich at -12. They will need two cards to stay in the game, even a last reserve will not be enough... but they have nothing left. Martin Höfer is the new World Champion!

Epilogue

Although it ended on turn fourteen. the game would have lasted the full twenty-three turns, with America as the last card. India would have come out on turn fourteen, and Sweden on turn fifteen. Had he only known, José Luis still had a slim chance, if he had managed to use his diamonds against Austrian hearts (as he had the opportunity to do at one point), he might well have held off both the French and the Imperial Army (now controlled by Christian), while preventing Peter from taking Silesia...
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Martin Hoefer
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Guy, thank you for taking notes during the final and delivering this here for posterity!

As you wrote this was only my second World Championship and after finishing 27th of 33 participants last year I could never dream of what has happened now. In the first game this year I scored my first victory during a Championship and already that was a great feeling. Then came Austria and Russia and somehow I ended up with 37 points and three victories after the second day. You can imagine what that evening was like for me and my buddies from Celle!

On the third day I managed to survive for 12 rounds with Friedrich. I had the honor to play against you as the French, Peter as Austria and Anton as Russia. These 6 points meant I was in the final! Mission accomplished!

The final itself was the continuation of that weekend's feverish dream. I was so nervous that I could only concentrate on my theatre of war in the West for the first three or four rounds. At first I thought José was looking strong as Peter did not conquer many cities. About round 9 or 10 I realized what Peter was planning and how far in fact he had already come with the execution of that plan. When the tsarina left I thought maybe José could get away with the title only to realize Peter's determination in the next round. The big Austrian-Prussian hearts-battle then meant that I didn't even have to fight to capture my last objective Magdeburg.

I said it elsewhere and I think I read it in Anton's strategy guide as well: If no one wins, France wins!

It was an unforgettable weekend for the Celle team and especially for me. It was an honour to play against such formidable players and even though my victory was somehow bitter sweet as it was all thanks to Peter's and José's bloody hearts battle I still am a little proud of what I accomplished during the three days in Schloss Friedrichsfelde!

Thank you once again for a great final! I hope we will meet again soon and play many more games of Friedrich together in the future!
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Jose Luis Bonilla Rau
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Once more, Martin, my most sincere congratulations on your - do not deceive yourself - well deserved victory.

My feelings during the game mirror your comments. I was full of confidence until round 9, when I took stock of Peter's real intentions, about 4 rounds after he made the commitment to that plan!. Realization came at the same time as the crisis against the russians was flaring up too. Christian was just one card away from the win before the Tsarina died. When this event showed up I also thought "maybe I can get away alive from all this".

And then, the final battle where I spent all my remaining heart cards, to which I had no alternative because losing Torgau (last imperial primary objective) meant defeat for me anyway.

Congratulations also to the other two finalists, Peter and Christian, who provided me with tough but needed lessons through this game, and who were both pretty close to a win (two rounds away each, by my recolection).

I expect to see you all in the next year's championship. And if I ever get to the final again, I am sure I'll be able to give a better account of myself.
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Anton Telle
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@Guy: Just a small correction: France needed to move Friedrich and Heinrich in the last fight by two cities. That is why Martin first played to -1 (weirdly with a 2 and a reserve) and then put a 13 on top to make it +12. That way - even if Prussia still had a reserve - it would result in a -2 retreat.
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Andrew Brown
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GalapagarGuy wrote:

The first card of fate announces the death of the composer Händel. At this point, the players all look very serious, there is an intense struggle ahead.


Shouldn't the composer be J.S. Bach (or possibly Johann Stamitz)?
 
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Martin Hoefer
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Archbold wrote:
GalapagarGuy wrote:

The first card of fate announces the death of the composer Händel. At this point, the players all look very serious, there is an intense struggle ahead.


Shouldn't the composer be J.S. Bach (or possibly Johann Stamitz)?


Death of Johann Stamitz is fate card #6. Death of Händel is fate card #3. It's the event which prevents attacks on Halle.
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Andrew Brown
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hoover2701 wrote:
Archbold wrote:
GalapagarGuy wrote:

The first card of fate announces the death of the composer Händel. At this point, the players all look very serious, there is an intense struggle ahead.


Shouldn't the composer be J.S. Bach (or possibly Johann Stamitz)?


Death of Johann Stamitz is fate card #6. Death of Händel is fate card #3. It's the event which prevents attacks on Halle.


Quite right - it is Händel. Wrong again! blushwhistle
 
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