Rail Baron Tournament Results - Avaloncon 1997

by Chuck Foster

I do want to express my thanks to each of you for being a part of the tournament last year. We had our largest turnout ever with ninety-five participants. This participation was enhanced by the four heats in Round One. We had twenty-two games played during the four heats, and the winners of these all advanced to the second round. There were also three second-place finishers, who each had over $500,000 total value, that advanced to the semi,final.s. My corgratulations to Luke Kolezar, our sportsmanship award winner. He played in three heats but missed the second round by a mere $10,000, yet he maintained a positive attitude throughout play. Also, congratulations to Steve Lorys for racking up $572,500 in his victory in Round One - the highest score in the tournament, and to Tom Dunning for amassing the highest three-game total.

I would like to note the accomplished play of the women in the tournament. For the first time in seven years, we had two ladies in the final, Beth Bernard and Kimberly Lemmons. Three other women have made the finals. The most recent, Alice Trumblee in 1996, nearly won but was beaten by Heikki Thoen for his second consecutive title.

The final was well played by all six contestants. Tom Dunning took a nearly insurmountable lead from early on by purchasing the PA, NYNH&H and the B&M, putting a lock on Boston. It seemed to be just a matter of time when he would reach $200,000 and head home to Portland, Oregon. Beth Bernard had the unfortunate combination of bad destinations and low dice rolls to go bankrupt. Louis Gehring played extremely well buying Beth's auctioned C&O to beef up his network. James Fry played consistently well throughout the game, also buying an auctioned railroad - the L&N. Jerry Ohlinger ran into hard times late in the game with nine bad destinations in a row but played very well also. He had the misfortune of not having a connecting rail from east to west.

While all eyes were watching Tom Dunning, Kim was headed to St. Louis, with her home being in Chicago. Her payoff would place her just over $200,000, and her home was three spaces away. Because Louis Gehring was nearby, she would either have to arrive to St. Louis with no bonus or bonus out to her home to win. She landed in St. Louis with a bonus of three and rode the GM&O to Chicago on her bonus roll, thereby winning the game. I was so impressed with Kim winning Rail Baron, that I married her on January 24th! (I figured she could give me some strategy tips for this year's tournament.)

1997 Final Standings Total Assets:

1st Place: Kimberly Lemmons $333,000
2nd Place: Tom Dunning $400,000
3rd Place: Louis Gehring $336,500
4th Place: James Fry $294,500
5th Place: Jerry Ohlinger $ 32,000
6th Place: Beth Bernard