Tournament Reports from the Big Experiment #2

by the Rabbits who ran them...

The 12th Annual International Icehouse Tournament

Report by Organizer: Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans

This year's tournament was a lot of fun, and totally worth the hours of effort and play that everybody put into it. It took about five and a half hours for the whole tournament.

I ran the tournament this year, and used it as something of a little experiment within the "Big Experiment" being run by Looney Labs. I did a lot of pre-planning for this tournament, and designed multiple forms to keep track of the tournament as it was occuring. In addition to the large score sheet that summarizes all the tournament games, I had small cards that the judges used to keep track of individual games, and other cards that the players used to keep track of their own scores. Most people found this paperwork more helpful than annoying, which was a great surprise to me.

Playing the Ice-Offs on those huge tables with the white tablecloths was a little odd, but it wan't too big of a pain. I can't believe that the Convention Center was being so difficult about letting us use the smaller tables. Since the Rabbits who set up the Lab tied the cloths tightly to the table legs, the surface was actualy very smooth and had great friction.

The 15 minute timers we used in the tournament most often seemed long in the Ice-Offs, but they always seemed short in the Finals. Next year, I could probably be talked into doing 10 minute timers on the Ice-Off games, but I'd want to keep 15 minute timers for the Finals.

The tournament would not have been nearly as good without the effort of Ryan McGuire, who calculated the tournament schedule for me, and made the beautiful stash of pieces from "Purple Heart" wood that he donated as a prize for the tournament champion.

My great thanks also go out to John "Dr. Cool" Cooper, who did most of the judging for the tournament, and to Andrew "Zarf" Plotkin, who did the rest of the judging. I'd also like to thank Jake for collating the data from the game report cards onto the big table at the end of the Ice-Offs. Lastly, I'll thank Eric Zuckerman for using his video camera to take action shots of the tournament, and allowing me to dub them before he left town.

My own video shot with the overhead camera boom is only somewhat useful. Mostly, I have some very good footage of the backs of peoples' heads. When everybody leans back for a second, there are some very good shots of the game in progress, but at random intervals.

Also, a moment of adoration for Mike Sugarbaker, this year's Cooler Than Ice, and the man who brought back his Gargantua pieces for the amusement of all. Big Icehouse with the stash pads up on the mezzanine was so much freaking fun. Thanks, Mike.

IceTowers Tournament

Report by Organizer: Liam Bryan

Only eight people competed in the IceTowers tournament this year.

The finalists in IceTowers were Jake, Jesse, John, and Alison, with both Alison and Jake going into the final with two wins, and John and Jesse holding one win. The tower-offs were scored as Icehouse, total points times number of wins plus one.

Due to the small number of people, the tournament was pretty informal. I asked the finalists whether they wanted to play one game or three. They chose one.

Since they were only playing one game to determine the winner, it went very slowly towards the end. But, Jesse came out "on top" *thwack*

Next year, we'll try to have it later in the weekend so more people show up.

IceTraders Tournament

Report by Organizer: Nathan Dilday

There were a total of five players: Jake, Emily, Eeyore, me, and Brad Weier.

In the first game (as I remember; I didn't think to take notes), Emily and I were the only good players, and Jake managed a fairly quick kill on me (I'd be surprised if the game took a total of more than 10 turns). The "important" stashes of blue and green were impressively small, as at least three of us took one of each (with one other taking a green and a red, if I remember) to make the starting systems.

Since everyone still felt dissatisfied, we decided to play again (I wasn't really seriously considering this a tournament at this point... there were five of us, for goodness sakes, and we were all rabbits) The second game went on much longer. A number of us were determined, it seemed, to not empty out green and blue as much this time around, so the starting planets were a little more varied; I was personally determined to not become lost in the "hope other players are good" mode of playing this time, so I decided to be evil (I believe there were three good players that time... Jake, Emily, and Brad). After managing to get into hyperspace, I had enough power to go ahead and crush the other person in hyperspace, who unfortunuately had put all his large ships there (or ended up with his last larges being there, at any rate). Kudos to Jake for making me play like an evil player, instead of a passive good player... I probably would've let the game run on and on if he hadn't chided me into action.

So, once all was said and done, we'd played two games, one an easy win for Jake, one a not-so-easy win for me. Jake suggested that the first game was practice, and that I should therefore get the medallion; I couldn't accept that in good conscience. Since a batch of IT medallions were made for the chance of a tie, Andy went ahead and gave us both one, netting me my first Big E. award, and Jake his (counts on fingers) 2nd of 4? Go Jake!

Zendo Tournament

Report by Organizer: Kory Heath

The first Origins Zendo Tournament was a smashing success (by my standards, anyway). We had 21 entrants, and played a double-elimination system with three students per game. Each table used a different rule, and we never repeated rules.

I was the Master for three intense games leading up to the conclusion of the tournament. First, Eric Zuckerman solved the rule "must contain an odd number of red pieces and an even number of blue pieces", holding on to his undefeated status. The next game was long and grueling, with lots of group religions about pointing, etc. Eric had no losses, and the other two players (Chris Cieslik and Brad Weier) had one loss each. Dan Isaac was waiting to play whoever didn't get eliminated. The players chipped away at the rule, until Chris finally narrowed it down to the correct answer: "has the BN if all of the largest pieces in the koan are flat". Chris stayed in, Eric also stayed in since he had a loss to spare, and the other player was eliminated.

The three finalists were therefore Eric Zuckerman, Dan Isaac, and Chris Cieslik. The rule for the final game was "a koan has the BN if the pip-count of the red pieces is equal to the number of blue pieces". The game progressed at a reasonable pace; the players quickly figured out that red was important, and then more slowly began to suspect that blue was important. At a key moment in the game, Dan decided to hold on to his single stone and pass his turn on to Eric, but then after a little bit he said "wait, I have a guess". I ruled that he had technically already passed, but if the other two students agreed he would be allowed to guess. Chris agreed, and Eric, in a super-cool move, also agreed, although he was looking at four stones, and knew that he might be giving the game to Dan.

Dan worked on his guess for a while, and finally decided on "BN if there are no red and blue pieces at all, or at least one small red and at least one blue piece" - a reasonable guess, given the table. I broke it with a medium red and two large blues. (I could have broken it with two small reds and one blue piece, but I would have had to destroy multiple koans to do so.)

It was then Eric's turn, and although he didn't know the rule, he intuitively set up the perfect experiment (a medium red and a single blue piece, which was marked black). He sat there and shook his head for a minute, frustrated. Then suddenly he did a wild double take, and I knew he had it. I tried to keep a straight face as he did two more double takes, his eyes getting wider and his mouth getting bigger each time. Then he excitedly pointed at every koan on the table in turn, saying "yes, yes, yes..." He made his guess, and I said "You are enlightened!" Much rejoicing ensued. The tournament couldn't have ended with a more archetypical Zendo enlightenment experience, and it represents one of my favorite moments at the Con.

Other observations:

Zarcana Tournament

In game one, Owen called the last round even though he was losing, thereby controlling the point spread -- he kept it down to 1 point between the winner (me) and second place (Dale?) -- it could have been much more. For this particular tourney Owen's strategy was clever.

I think Zarf won the second game. All a blur.

In game three I was sole owner of the World-o-Death, while Dale played the part of the tragic hero; I think he used the Gateway to invade my underworld, making the game run 4 more rounds than it should have, and raising the chances that someone other than Deathorama (me) would win. In the end, the tourney hinged on whether I had a sword or not. But I did, so
I won. The end.

Fluxx Tournaments

Report by Organizer: Tucker

The Fluxx tournament went well again this year, although the rounds kept trying to run overtime. I'm perfectly happy with one qualifier each on Thursday, Friday, and Satyrday afternoon, and the 11 PM slots on Friday and Satyrday were much bigger than I'd figured (or even hoped), so those are alright too. And noon on Sunday is about the perfect time to do the final. So it was all good.

Aquarius Tournament

Chrononauts Tournaments

Cosmic Coasters Tournament

Martian Chess Tournament

Proton Booth Challenge

The winning time was 7.09 seconds!

Q-Turn Booth Challenge

Gnostica Tournament


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