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Subject: 2019 Junior Splendor Tournament Report rss

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Andrew Drummond
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On the Wednesday evening of WBC this year, your humble GM was blessed to be able to oversee the juniors attempt to win the crown for Junior Splendor Champion.

24 juniors contested the tournament this year, which allowed us a format that would let a very high number into the semifinals. Top two from each of six tables of four would make it through to the semis. From there the three winners of the semis would contest a final.

Of the six first round tables, there was something notable at each of them:

Table 1 saw our quickest game of the first round as Tyler Houle showed mastery of the big card strategy in a dominating 15-8-8-4 win.
Table 3 saw a very tight battle where Ysabel Staton pulled off a win with 16 leaving 7-year-old Zoe Hodge just out of the semis with a 13 point 3rd place.
At the all female Table 4, Maggie Laird grabbed a noble at the end to pull off a 15-13-7-7 win.
Table 5 saw our youngest contestant, Alice Kaltman, almost make the semis but lost out when Sage LeWinter finished the game quickly with a 6 card, 15 point performance.
Table 6 saw Patrick Proksch use the power of his octopus hat to lead him to a 16-12-8-7 win.

Table 2 is a story I want to tell in a little more detail. There are three older boys at this table, and one much younger girl. After a couple of rounds, the boys are getting rowdy, there’s some trash talking, and they are doing the things boys do in games at that age. However, the girl at the table is quite overwhelmed and she is having difficulty taking turns. One of the boys starts getting frustrated at her for taking slow turns, and he sees that she has a relatively obvious next action to take (there is a reasonable card she can buy with her current gems).

At this moment, one of the other boys, Preston Saccenti, steps in and tells the other boys that everyone should be able to take their own turns and he needs to stop and give her time. I was really proud of him in that moment, because it is exactly how great gamers behave.

That left us with three semi final tables. At the first table, Joe Birnbaum and Belisarius Sosa got off to quick starts building 4 point cards early while Ysabel Staton and Patrick Proksch got out 1 pointers. Mid game, Joe got a 5 pointer down while Beli reserved three additional 3rd level cards. Patrick had 6 points mainly in Black while Ysabel was making a noble play already having six cards on the table. In the end, Joe’s quick builds were too much and he took the table 15-14-13-8.

Semi 2 started off with Leonidas Sosa getting a quick 8 points with three cards while Tyler Houle had a handful of 3rd level cards he couldn’t play. Jamie and Maggie both started noble strategies with Maggie in particular cornering the market on Black cards. Maggie in the end got 5 Black cards, but little else, and Jamie built an engine that was just starting to come to fruition when Leo ended the game with only his 5th card giving him a 15-10-8-8 win. In a fun bit of trivia, Leo got his 15 points all in White cards 5-4-4-2.

At semi 3 was last year’s finalist Preston who early reserved two cards as did Sam Burdett. Sage LeWinter got a quick 2 point card out for an early lead and Nina Coussis starting building a tableau. At the end, Nina was victimized by only being able to take one noble a turn as she very efficiently built exactly the cards she needed. Sage had troubles with three reserved 3rd level cards being too hard to build, and Sam’s White-Blue engine never quite got the traction he needed. However, Preston’s efficient cards (6 cards all worth 2 or more) scored him the last spot in the final with a 16-12-12-7 victory.

And with that the final was set. Preston, who had been there the year before; Leonidas, who was a first time finalist, and Joe who had already had much success at other junior events that week.

The early game showed three distinct strategies. Leo kept true to his 4p strategy and got an early 5 point card out for the lead. Preston got an early 2 point card down and played for a middle strategy including reserving 1st level cards and then buying them to hoard gold. Joe changed entirely from his 4p game to work on an engine with a goal towards nobles.

There was an awful lot of banter between the players about whose strategy would come out best. In the mid game, Leo was stuck with no 3rd level cards showing the gems/cards he had so he reserved one anyway resolving to find the gems as the game progressed. Preston started to panic a little as he realized that he wasn’t accumulating points fast enough and Joe was getting more confident by the minute that his engine would overcome his opponents.

At mid game, Leo had 5 points on four cards, Preston had 7 points on six cards, and Joe had no points, but 10 cards down and was closing in on nobles fast. As the nobles started to pile up, Preston went all out defensive and tried to buy off or reserve cards that would advance Joe’s game, but in doing so he wasn’t making any progress of his own. By the late game, Preston still had 7 points, now on 11 cards. Leo had 6 on five as he struggled mightily to play any of his reserved 3rd level cards, and Joe had 12 (9 from nobles) on a whopping 17 cards.

Two turns later, Joe won the game by taking the 4th and final noble. Leo had lucked into a 3 point 2nd level card coming out that he could buy so he clipped Preston for second place, but Joe’s victory was overwhelming.

Final scores:
Joe Birnbaum: 17 points on 18 cards with 4 nobles
Leonidas Sosa: 9 points on 6 cards
Preston Saccenti: 7 points on 12 cards

Thanks to all the juniors for playing and allowing me to see the up and coming Splendor sharks. Looking forward to seeing you on the big tables.
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Christopher Yaure
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Great write up, Andrew. It does make me a little afraid to play in your events, though, as my lack of strategy may become apparent to the world.

Wonderful story about Presrton Saccenti. As gamers (and in life) we should all strive to behave as he did.
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Max DuBoff
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This was fun to read, thanks! Kudos to all the great players in rhe Juniors room and to you for GMing, Andrew. And wow, 4 nobles, not sure I've ever seen that.
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Russ Bielefeldt
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I played against Joe in the third regular heat of Dominion. He beat me by 2 points. He's a tough competitor in anything he plays, whether it's against kids or adults.
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Andrew Drummond
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actuaryesquire wrote:
Great write up, Andrew. It does make me a little afraid to play in your events, though, as my lack of strategy may become apparent to the world.

That's actually something I worry about. I try to keep it lighter, but there's a worry that I'm being too critical of some, especially in a jr tournament.
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Eric Brosius
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Did you nominate Preston for the Sportsmanship Award? I don't think there's any rule making juniors ineligible.
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Michael Powers
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Eric Brosius wrote:
Did you nominate Preston for the Sportsmanship Award? I don't think there's any rule making juniors ineligible.

Preston is a full member with badge as well as being a junior. He's a player.
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Christopher Yaure
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ardrummo wrote:
actuaryesquire wrote:
Great write up, Andrew. It does make me a little afraid to play in your events, though, as my lack of strategy may become apparent to the world.

That's actually something I worry about. I try to keep it lighter, but there's a worry that I'm being too critical of some, especially in a jr tournament.

I don't think anyone will be embarrassed (in a bad way) about this write up. You walked that line well.
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Rich Shipley
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Eric Brosius wrote:
Did you nominate Preston for the Sportsmanship Award? I don't think there's any rule making juniors ineligible.

There was a sportsmanship ribbon for each juniors event given to the nominee.
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