Garry Jones writes:
Two players, late into the night, playing backgammon for a few quid. Playing despite having far too many Guinness. The love of the game gets too extreme as they battle their ongoing grudge match. The conversation widens to include their respective clubs. “We have some really good players developing at Worcester, how are you doing in Cork?” “We’re not too shoddy ourselves!” “Shall we pit them against each other in a Cork v Worcester competition?” “Great Idea!!!” And so it began. A late night conversation. Vic and Sean have come up with an idea. Over a few beers it was bound to be slow in gestating.
Months pass and the UK Open is upon us. Another conversation with less beer and the participants are enthused and decide they should get it together. Sean puts it to Worcester Backgammon club. Much to everyone’s amazement, nine people respond positively straight away. We have a team! Sean books flights as more join the team-we are now twelve from all the various leagues we have in Worcester. Before the dreaded Brexit vote Sean books the flights. Vic sorts out the venue and negotiates a good price on the rooms. This plan is a go.
The host team offers to pick us up on Friday from Cork airport. We have been travelling since midday because we are flying from the John Lennon Airport. Cars are sorted for lifts to Liverpool. The hosts pick us up on the other side. We arrive – bags in rooms and then a Friday night knockout after a quick bite to eat.
Hardly catching our breath we move into the room just down the hallway from the Charismatic Prayer meeting which both sides seem to think the other may need to go to! The draw is made and play commences. A certain tension is in place as unfamiliar players are pitted against unfamiliar players. How good are they? Can they play the doubling cube? Who are their strong players and where is the easy meat?
Play continues into the small hours of the morning as the two teams get to know each other and begin to relax and enjoy the beautiful game.
The next morning comes too quickly and the result of the Friday night knockout is not finished yet.
The main event is the Cork v Worcester Trophy. Worcester trails behind with Cork taking a very early lead. A total of sixty matches are to be played and the winners are the first past thirty-one. Worcester get close once in a while to catching up on the Cork lead but in the end Cork take it with 31-24.
The Trophy Challenge was taken by Cork and apart from the Friday Knockout which was won by Vic, Worcester won everything else. So we console ourselves that we took the money!
The hosts were fantastic. The venue was ideal and a lovely establishment to stay in. We were made to feel welcome by Cork Backgammon Club and indeed all we met. We enjoyed a night out on the Saturday night having some excellent Thai food in a lovely restaurant followed by some lovely music in a very small bar. We also visited De Barra’s, the famous folk club that still pays homage to Noel Redding from the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Another knockout on the Sunday, with a few very sore heads, then thankfully interrupted by Sunday lunch at two thirty, back to the knockout and then a trip back to the Airport for our flight.
This was for some their first try at a tournament of this size. It was great to see the enthusiasm from these people. They may not be winning but they found out a lot about the game by asserting themselves on the Backgammon field of Battle. A win is so much greater when it is cast from the iron of learning. This is how some of the players improved their games quite significantly over the weekend.
The weekend was a great success on so many levels, personally, for the clubs and for the game. A lot of good sportsmanship on show and no tantrums or bad losers. I cannot, for one, wait for the next one. Thank you Cork and Clonakilty.
A big thank you to Vic and his team for a great weekend and to Sean for working out the logistics and coordinating with Vic to work out the formats. We hope that this is the start of many years of inter-club backgammon between Cork Backgammon Club and Worcester Backgammon Club.
Cork welcome other 12-player UK Teams for a Cork v Challenger weekend Tournament.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
The 64-player 3rd Cork Open, 3-5 March 2017, is 80% full.
See corkbackgammon.com for further information.
Cork keep the Shield this time: Cork 31 wins, Worcester 24 wins.
Friday 32-player K/O: 1st Vic (Cork), 2nd James (Worcester)
Sunday 32-player K/O: 1st Jamie (Worcester), 2nd Sean (Worcester)
Sunday 8-player K/O 1: 1st Luke (Worcester)
Sunday 8-player K/O 2: 1st James (Worcester)