Over 120 keen backgammoners descended on Coventry’s Ricoh Arena this weekend for the UK Open – and it certainly didn’t disappoint for the sheer amount of high quality play! Boards were set out ready, along with UKBGF T-shirts, cubes, pens, scorepads, and jelly-sweets for emergency sustenance, and players started congregating mid-afternoon for ad-hoc jackpots and the £1/£5 one-pointer knockouts, while a superb board from Geoffrey Parker was set up with cameras ready to become the featured board – with lucky participants to be selected to play with the world watching…
By 8pm we had fifty for the Friday Warm Up tournament, while another twenty were up for the bigger rewards in the £250 Super Jackpot. The draw for the Super Jackpot threw up two superb featured matches to start off the live streaming, first Julian Fetterlein v Eric McAlpine, and then Eric v Jon Barnes – and a sight never to be seen again, Jon losing on time at 9-7 up… Adam Taylor beat Bek Barbaros to take the Warm Up trophy, while Malcolm Robertson and Sebastian Wilkinson still have the final to play – we simply couldn’t fit it in!
The principal event, the UK Open itself, started off on Saturday morning with 80 in the Masters division and 38 Advanced. With such a large field and double-elimination leading to a long Fighters bracket it took a very slick organising team to keep things to time; someone losing in the first round of the main would face 7 rounds in the Fighters before going to bed – but remarkably only one game was held over to the next morning. At this point David Pritchard, Tim Line, Robin Swaffield and Alex Hodge were our last four undefeated and the last four Fighters standing were Andreas Christian Olsen, James Newman, Yan Kit Chan and Paul Plumptre – with Robin and Alex selected to start off Sunday’s broadcast. In parallel was the rather more relaxed Social Swiss tournament, won by David Broomfield who emerged with a clean sheet.
No time to rest, though, as the consulting doubles – sixteen pairs – and SpeedGammon got started as soon as people were free. The SpeedGammon was run as eight separate jackpots, each feeding a winner into a final bracket of 8…
The early risers on Sunday were treated to a superb seminar by Julian Fetterlein, and then the Arena Cup kicked off with all the players not still in the Open itself. Progress was steady throughout the day with a lot of games to get through, and by 4pm we were ready for the big one – the Open Masters final. David Pritchard was still undefeated while Yan Kit Chan (last year’s Advanced winner) had come a long way through the Fighters bracket. It looked like being a swift affair as David landed a big 4-cube to take an 8-1 lead up to 11, but Yan took his break and came back refreshed, chipping away the deficit very tenaciously in ones and twos to first level the game, then go on to win 11-9 to set up the second match. By this point we had a large crowd gathered in the room, and quite a lot remotely in the online chatroom as well. After a brief break the 5-point decider began, again David running up an early 4-1 lead. Yan saved the Crawford game, but the dice weren’t going to let him come back twice, David finishing 5-2 winner and taking the crown.
UK Open 2015:
- Champion: David Pritchard
- Runner-up: Yan Kit Chan
- 3rd: Alex Hodge
UK Open Advanced 2015
- Winner: Bob Young
- Runner-up: Lewis Potter
- Winners: Simon Morecroft & Sue Keeble
- Runners-up: Rune Faervag & Peter Christmas
Arena Cup: Masters
- Winner: Julian Fetterlein
- Runner-up: Sebastian Wilkinson
Arena Cup: Advanced
- Winner: Mike Murton
- Runner-up: Graham Cornish
- Saturday winner: David Broomfield
- Sunday winner: David Broomfield (again!)
We certainly had a full day’s play as the final wrapped up at around 7.30; the side events finished off as fast as they could with the SpeedGammon last to finish at gone 9pm. Very well done to everyone who kept going to the end! We hope you had a very enjoyable tournament and hope to see you in 2016.
All the featured matches are available on our YouTube channel, and all the results for all the events are available at Challonge.
For photo albums of the UK Open and British Backgammon Awards see our Flickr account.
Finally, there are plenty of thankyous: to Raj and Peter for directing and keeping everything running smoothly, ably assisted by Hollie Lee, Andrew Pinkus and Ros Nathan who all gave up their weekends for us; Geoffrey Parker for providing prizes; Aref Alipour for running the streaming; Lawrence Powell for photographs; Julian Fetterlein for an excellent seminar, and many others who have helped out behind the scenes. And most of all to all the players who support the Open come good dice or bad…