Back to its normal May slot, and in the delightful surroundings of Henrietta Barnett School in Hampstead Garden Suburb, the 2017 London Open brought a fantastic group of at least 132 players out for the weekend. I say “at least” as in addition to the main Masters, Intermediate and Newcomers tournaments proper, we had a few people turn up on spec for just the side events, or an evening chouette…
The weekend started off with a substantial Warm Up of 53 players – a healthy mixture of intermediate and Masters players – for a six round knockout and 13 for the Super Jackpot. Neither was going to finish on the Friday evening with so many people taking part and we had quite a few people playing quite close to the 11pm locking-up time!
On Saturday, after a minute’s silence in memory of the recent victims of the Manchester attack, we kicked off with Mancunian Danny Cohen organising an FA Cup-themed auction of all the Masters and Intermediate players, with a rake to support the families of the victims.
And then on to the tournament proper – a full Masters division (64) and nearly full Intermediates (56) playing five rounds of seven pointers in Swiss format to decide the Sunday’s knockout participants. We had three newcomers who joined in the Intermediates on the Saturday, but who were really there for the dedicated Newcomers tournament the following day. That nearly didn’t happen for Paul Voltzenlogel, who finished day one with three wins and was just a 1-pt shootout away from the Intermediate last 16 instead!
The FA Cup final was a rival attraction for some players and in particular Arsenal fan Michael Pitaluga who had a ticket for Wembley – he was going to have a great weekend in both games. But a healthy number continued on to the evening for doubles (16 pairs) and the first heat of Speedgammon using Ross Knipe’s BGBuddy as an integrated scoreboard, dice and clock. BGBuddy certainly won some new enthusiasts as a result! Once again play carried on deep into the night and the school staff must be wondering if backgammon players actually have homes to go to…
On Sunday morning the knockouts begin – two last 16s (11pts) and two consolations (7pts). The Masters last 16 was a field full of top names and there were plenty of familiar names in the Intermediates too. We did have a big hiccup – in the busyness to get underway I told someone the wrong match length in the intermediates and a couple of games were played to 7 not 11 before we realised… I’d like to give a special mention to Bek Barbaros and Alex Polden both of whom had reported wins to 7 but generously offered their opponents to go back and continue to 11 – and both lost. The dice may not have respected their true sportsmanship but we really do – thank you both.
The Newcomers Swiss had eleven players, some in their first ever tournament, and the first trophy of the day went to one of Worcester’s future stars, Cristina Pop.
Some lengthy first round matches meant that the Last Chance was a bit late starting after lunch – and with the knockouts gradually eliminating people we had a chance to finish off more Speedgammon heats and a final four, plus all the outstanding finals – although we had to work on the scheduling somewhat with Raj in both Super Jackpot and Masters finals! He wasn’t last to finish, though, as a gruelling Intermediate final between Mike Ireland and Donna Sherred took us deep into the evening.
Masters Champion: Wayne Felton, runner up: Raj Jansari
Masters Consolation winner: Engin Ongel, runner up John Broomfield
Masters Last Chance winner: Richard Furborough, runner up Cristian Cozos
Intermediates Champion: Mike Ireland, runner up Donna Sherred
Intermediates Consolation winner: Michael Pitaluga, runner up Geoff Conn
Intermediates Last Chance winner: Linda Taylor, runner up David Dennis
Newcomers winner: Cristina Pop, runner up Alin Petrisor
Doubles Champions: Andy Marshall and Mark Calderbank, runners up Tariq Siddiqi and Anna Price
Speedgammon Champion: Radu Ciortan, runner up Aref Alipour
Warm-Up winner: Romolo Mudu, runner up Jysen Quah
Super Jackpot winner: Raj Jansari, runner up Sean Clennell
Many thanks to everyone who took part for making it a great weekend, but particular thanks go to director Simon Morecroft without whom we might not have a London Open at all, caterer Danny Cohen and the helpers behind the scenes who make it all possible; event sponsors Geoffrey Parker, BGBuddy and Sir Nicholas Bonsor, and most notably Alexander Meynell who sponsored the Intermediate flight, and joined us right through to the end of the final and presented the trophies.
The London Open is the fourth stage of the UK Tour and while champion Wayne Felton has powered through to second place, it’s Tariq Siddiqi who takes the metaphorical yellow jersey to Blackpool in three weeks time…