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  A view from ACF Player's Representative Richard Beckwith : 2008-02-05

11-man Ballot Checkers

The Elbert Lowder Memorial 11-man Ballot National was held in Albemarle, NC on Jan. 31 through Feb. 2. Albemarle is the hometown of Elbert Lowder, the most recent 11-man world champion, although he lived in Sanford, NC more recently. Nevertheless, Albemarle was the location of Elbert's memorial service. Elbert came from a large family, and the town is full of Lowders when perusing the phone book. There are even streets names Lowder. American Idol fans may also recognize Albemarle as the hometown of Kellie Pickler.

For those not familiar with the game of 11-man ballot, a special deck of cards is used to remove one piece among the two front rows, squares 5-12 for red, and squares 21-28 for white. Additional draws from this 8-card deck are used to provide each player's first move (as in 2-move restriction). This makes 4 draws in all, two for each player. Both competitors play the resulting position with red to play first. The same opening is repeated in the second game after the players exchange colors. Any move that causes immediate loss of a piece is rejected (such as 9-14 21-17) and redrawn. Also, we played that if both competitors agreed that the opening was unsound due to severe weakness (even though pieces are even), then the opening could be rejected, but I don't recall this happening at this recent tournament.

For players who like the scope of 3-move play, but are intimidated by the depth of your opponent's 3-move book knowledge, this may be the format for you! There are some 3000 openings with 11-man ballot, so you normally have to play what you see, rather than what you know. Occasionally, an 11-man ballot opening will transpose into a 3-move opening. (I had one opening transpose into 11-15 21-17 15-19 XX 27-24 7-10 X in the tournament.) For those versed in 3-move, your knowledge will not go to waste, as 3-move play may better prepare you to pick out the best opening moves by recognizing familiar themes and attacking patterns.

The event was played at the Albemarle Sleep Inn, and numerous restaurants were within walking distance. The tournament featured visits by the Elbert's sister and also the mayor of Albemarle, who presented opening remarks. Kellie Pickler then sang the National Anthem prior to the start of the tournament. (OK, I'm kidding about that last part!)

There were many surprises near the end of the tournament. Tim Laverty played brilliantly to win the event by one point over Alex Moiseyev, who was never able to gain the solo lead. Teal Stanley and Mike Ross came out of nowhere late in tournament to take 3rd and 4th place after netting wins against established masters. Given that the current 11-man ballot match title is vacant, Tim Laverty and Alex Moiseyev intend to play a match later this summer for the world title.

I congratulate Tim Laverty for this National tournament achievement and thank Tim for his usual fine referee services. Alex Moiseyev and Victor Habgood provided daily forum updates. Last but not least, JR Smith did much work to bring the tournament together and also provided four trophies, Elbert Lowder memorial mugs, and commemorative CDs. JR indicates he plans to have this event every 2-3 years.

Read more articles from your ACF Players Representative in the Rep's Corner Archive.

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