|Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Round 5||Rating||Games||Rating|
We had a good tournament this year, with a healthy mix of experienced and newer competitors. Instead of playing in the evening, we started the tournament at high noon, enabling those with evening obligations to play. Attendance was a little above average, with 14 players total. Because of the large but non-divisible-by-four number of players, we had to play five rounds to assure each player their four games. We decided to play only two games in round one, and have six people sit out, rather than have four people in the first round whose games would not count, even if they managed to win.
It was a hot year for a couple of experienced players, Ryan McGuire and Tucker Taylor. Ryan was completely undefeated in the Ice-Offs, and Tucker only lost the game in which he was competing with Ryan. It was Tucker's first time in the finals, and Ryan's first in a few years. Ryan's Ice-Off rating of 460 is, as far as I can see, unprecedented. Joshua Kronengold and myself put in strong showings, I thought, but given the double-juggernaut of Ryan and Tucker I don't think we had much chance. Our returning Champion, Timothy Hunt, didn't make it into the finals, despite some high-scoring play. Winner of the "I can stop playing now" award for the highest rating that didn't have to play in the finals was first-timer Jim Steiner. If he'd been able to eke out just one more point in his first game he would have gone to the finals.
Katarina "Kat" Dutton was voted "Cooler Than Ice". For the tournament, she wore a T-shirt from the first IIT which occurred three months before she was born. Sometimes, I wax philosophical that I have been playing icehouse for a little more than half my life. Icehouse has been around for Kat's entire life, and obviously hanging with the Wunderland crowd for all that time has been a good experience for her.
In the finals, I came out swinging with an early win, but this lead to the dreaded curse of the early lead. About half the time, the person who wins the first game doesn't win the tournament, and I just wasn't able to keep my scores up high enough to stay in contention. Being big targets coming out of the Ice-Offs, Ryan and Tucker were iced pretty heavily in game one, which didn't help their chances either. Tucker won the second game, pulling out far enough ahead of the rest of us to get the win and mostly recover from his first game. Sharing the win for the last game kept Ryan from getting the multiplier he needed to pull even with Tucker. If Ryan had gotten just two more points in the last game, he would have tied his rating with Tucker and forced a "full tournament" rating to clinch the win.
In the end, Tucker's clean cool style enabled him to recover from a shaky start with a strong win, and hold that lead all the way to the championship. Well played.
Thanks to all the players, I hope to see everybody back next year. Experience really helps in this game. I know the years I've been stomped in the tournament have taught me more about how to play than years of friendly play might have. I can see some of our newer competitors burbling just below the surface, waiting for the year they'll break through, suddenly going from mid-range scores to record-high ratings.
Just watch out for Joshua, though. He's been playing really strongly the past few years and next year might be his opportunity to splash the finals for the win. If you look at his scores across the tournament, you can see that he was the only player to score consistently above 20 the entire tournament, and only ever lost games by three or fewer points. If that's not striking distance, I don't know what is.
Mega-thanks to Eric Zuckerman, who did most of the refereeing duties, ran the timer, and strained his eyes over dozens of floss calls, as he has every year for some time. Super-thanks to Chris Cieslik, an experienced competitor from past years, who helped Eric during the Ice-Offs. His help was indispensable at least one time that I saw, with Icehouse calls at two different tables at the same time. This tournament would be impossible without the impartial rulings of our referees, and the reliable scoring skills that determine our winners.
Lastly, I want to thank Looney Labs in general for their continuing support, Andy Looney in particular for playing in the tournament (with his Obsidian stone pyramids this year!) and being so cool about it, and the Big Experiment Steering Committee for giving us the time to have a good tournament.
Wish I had more specific stuff in the above, but my memory of game specifics fades very quickly.
I remember deciding to ice all Phil's remaining defenders and put him in the Icehouse in game 5, but by the time I was finished throwing pieces into attacks, I didn't have enough time or firepower to save things. Then he got a prisoner and started squandering my attacks. I was pretty lucky to even share that win, really.
I remember calling Icehouse in game (I think) 9 and having it be invalid because one of the defenders of the person I thought I was calling it on was not actually iced. The attacker we all thought was icing it actually missed the defender and pointed at another attacker.
I remember ending game three of the finals with six of my own points on my stash pad. I remember crashing the only prisoner I had all game and being unable to save my iced defenders while basically everybody else had a prisoner or two.
I remember a couple of times having to speed play a bunch of pieces near the end of the game to make somebody's prisoner their last piece and lock out any restructuring. Watching people try to figure out whether to use their last prisoner to ice something, squander something, both, or be squandered was always amusing.
I played in my first International Icehouse Tournament at my first Origins, in 1998. In my second game I had a game-destroying crash that shook me badly enough that I ended up icehoused in games two through four. (I do have the distinction of being one of the players in the "four in the icehouse" game, wherein Jacob called Icehouse on himself.) I skipped the tournament in 1999, but played in the next six. I took fifth place in 2001 and 2005, and sixth (behind Cthulhia) in 2004. I then skipped 2006 to play in a vicious and unsatisfying LARP, and judged rather than play in 2007 (stupid Lyme).
This year I went into the tournament this year feeling pretty good about it. Mad props to Ryan M for sweeping the ice-offs and whomping me in the game he played against me, and I'm quite pleased to have come in second behind him with 2.5 wins (and to have gotten the green medallion out of it, too!). Due to the quirks of the schedule I didn't face Eeyore or Josh in the Ice-offs, so I was fairly nervous going into the finals.
Eeyore won the first game. At the end of the second, Ryan was left with a large prisoner of Josh's, and mediums belonging to both me and Eeyore that he could kill with it. If he'd killed mine, Eeyore would have won the game and (essentially) the tournament; if he'd killed neither, I think Eeyore and I would have shared the victory (giving Eeyore a strong edge to win overall). Ryan chose, wisely, to kill Eeyore's piece, giving me the win and himself a decent chance at the scepter. All he needed to do was win the third game and beat Eeyore by six points. (I didn't calculate Josh's required margin, but he was still a contender as well.) (Looking at the rankings, I seem to have miscalculated; Ryan actually needed to beat me by two points.)
Much of the last game is a blur. I remember scrambling for a fortress, and I remember being impressed that I wasn't getting as many of my larges killed this time. I'm not even sure how the game ended, other than that I'd played out my pieces shortly before everyone else and was very quietly counting and recounting the scores. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Eric called "Time!" Ryan and I had tied for the win.
From a tournament score of sixteen to the scepter, in just ten years. Wow.
If you competed in or observed the tournament, please post your commentary to the Icehouse mailing list and I will excerpt it for this report.