64 players from Ireland, the UK, Denmark, Norway and even further afield gathered at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire earlier this month for the 25th Irish Open.
A perfect number of 8 players chose to enter the Super Jackpot on Friday; the rest opting for the regular warm up. In the SJP, John Broomfield and Sean Casey made it to the final which was carried over. However, as Sean was the main TD for the rest of the weekend, there was no time to squeeze in the final and so he and JB split the spoils.
The 6 round Swiss qualifier on Saturday guaranteed plenty of play for everyone, and whittled the field down to a last 16 knockout on Sunday. Rune Færevåg from Norway was the sole player on six wins out of six, and so went straight through to the last 8, where he defeated Sean Jones from Worcester. Sean’s brother Garry also lost out at that stage, to Simon Morecroft, and the last 4 was completed by Brendan Burgess and Martha Littlehailes. In the semis, Martha defeated husband Simon in a very tight match, while Brendan lost out to Rune, meaning the Irish champion would either be the first female winner of the title or the first Norwegian.
In the final, Rune got his nose in front early, and never relinquished his lead, winning 11-4. Many congratulations to him on completing the main tournament undefeated.
Meanwhile in the Consolation, the appropriately named Mike Ireland scythed his way through a strong field to reach the semi against Peter Bennet. Trailing 1-3 to 7, Peter (Blue) decided to double in the position shown.
Mike took, and after an awkward 4-3 (played 21/14) by Peter and a crushing 44 from Mike, Peter had virtually no further decisions to make, losing a gammon and the match. But were these cube actions correct?
With Peter summarily dispatched, Mike was now in the final against Brian Lever. Ireland (the country) has been a happy hunting ground for Brian over the years, but not on this occasion, with Mike winning 7-0. The Last Chance saw Mark Woods defeat Patrice Desmond in the final.
All in all it was a great weekend of backgammon as usual, with the field strengthened by a contingent of Danish players, seven in all. Many thanks to Sean Casey for his excellent and good-humoured Tournament Directing, also to Dave “Cracker” MacNamara for looking after the side pools and providing backgammon wisdom to anyone who would listen!