Last weekend, 155 players descended on Coombe Abbey, near Coventry, for the UK Open – this former Cistercian abbey providing a fantastic historic setting for the oldest game in the world, and the biggest gathering for at least a decade.
As if to remind us how much this event has grown, we had a whole suite to ourselves – two large playing rooms plus a small bar – as well as smaller rooms scattered about the site. We started off with ad-hoc jackpots and the £1 and £5 knockouts for the steadily accumulating early arrivals while getting ready for the main events, and were pleasantly surprised to have about 25 people put their dice down for a while and find their way to the first UKBGF AGM, some way away through the maze-like main building. Having heard a brief review of the year past and a report on the UKBGF accounts, there was a vigorous but well-spirited debate on a number of issues including the ratings, our plans for using our funds, and consistency of rules across our tournaments. Full minutes will follow soon.
We probably could have gone on longer but next up was Julian Fetterlein with another of his seminars – this one with a number of interesting positions aimed at the intermediate level players. The room was packed out – we’ll try to get complete footage up very soon. Finally, we really got underway with the Warm Up – almost a full bracket, with 63 starters – and the Super Jackpot with another 18. There were some interesting moments as we found our radio microphones were broadcasting on the same frequency as those of the wedding party nearby – with their DJ trying to get us down on to the dance floor, and us trying to get the happy couple to come and play a game or two…
Play continued deep into the night with so many round to get through, and the Warm Up left off at the last 8… a very pleasant problem to have! The Super Jackpot was the first to feature on the live streaming – this year, the streaming board was set up in a completely separate room, making it possible for people to commentate on the games going on with no risk of the players overhearing. You can find all the video on our Twitch channel and it will be on Youtube soon.
Saturday was a struggle to get underway with two large draws to take place; the Advanced were drawn first and despatched downstairs to their own dedicated playing room while the Masters carried on upstairs – and some heading out to the garden tables to enjoy their games in the glorious sunshine. With a lot of games to get through, there were tournament desks on each floor to speed things along – it’s often forgotten just how many people it takes to keep things running, and many thanks to Raj, Peter and their volunteer helpers! The Masters in particular had to get to round 8 of the fighters by the end of Saturday and it was noticeable that when the doubles started at 9pm, several pairs were actually singletons, with partners away trying to finish off their other matches… Even the Social Swiss players had an ambitious schedule, with ten participants playing a complete round-robin of two-point cubeless matches.
Saturday night saw 24 teams enter the doubles, and they reached the last 4 before sleepiness started to set in. That meant every event apart from the Social Swiss was still live on the Sunday and some people involved in several of them… and more fixture congestion to come! Fortunately there were plenty of early risers for the British Backgammon Awards and Julian’s second seminar.
Round 6 of the Masters undefeated provided the match of the tournament – Simon Barget carving out a 10*-1 lead over Steve Bibby downstairs in a quiet corner of the Advanced room. A crowd started gathering as the comeback began – the Crawford game saved for 10-2; then a doubled gammon for 10-6; then 10-10 and to finish Simon played a corker of a backgame, but it wasn’t to be – Steve taking the game 11-10. If only we could predict games like this and televise them!
In the parallel match on the stream, James Newman beat Yan Kit Chan to progress to the undefeated final; Steve finished him off in rather less dramatic circumstances. Yan got revenge in a rematch with James in the fighters bracket, to set up the overall final with Steve, but it wasn’t to be and Steve took the title on the first of the two matches. Steve unsurprisingly soars to the lead of the UKBGF Tour as a result.
Here’s links to all the Challonge brackets:
- Warm up
- Super Jackpot
- Saturday Social Swiss
- Sunday Social Swiss
- Consultation Doubles
- Speedgammon Final 8
- Abbey Cup Masters
- Abbey Cup Advanced
The Hall of Fame:
Masters (88) Winner – Steve Bibby, 2nd – Yan Kit Chan, 3rd – James Newman, 4th – Simon Barget
Advanced (52) Winner – Cristian Cozos, 2 – Darren Woodcock, 3 –Adam Sinclair, 4 – Garry Jones
Super Jackpot (18) Winner – Lawrence Powell, 2 – Mark Manley
Warm Up (63) Winner – Peter Christmas, 2 – John Horton
Social Swiss Saturday (10) Winner – Luke Owen, 2 – Joanna Foster
Social Swiss Sunday (8) Winner – Alain Peterisor, 2 – Radu Adrian
Consulting Doubles (24 teams) Winners – Jon Barnes and Anna Clarke, 2 – Len Brown and David Dennis
Speedgammon (64) Winner – Costin Constantinescu, 2 – Ciortan Radu
Abbey Cup Masters (73) Winner – Eric McAlpine, 2 – Tony Lezard
Abbey Cup Advanced (41) Winner – Adam Taylor, 2 – Chris Humble
We’ve got a whole album of photos on Facebook, and there’s more courtesy of Simonetta Herrera on Flickr – these capture the spirit of the weekend far better than I could! It was fantastic to meet so many people, both old friends and first-timers, having a great time. For those who went, we’d love to hear what you thought of the venue – we’ll need to move quickly to book the 2018 UK Open! And on a personal note, the £85 I took home from the Abbey Cup side pool made it my Best Weekend Ever…