The UK Open returned to the Ricoh Arena, Coventry for the third time last weekend, and we were delighted to host almost 130 players for a packed long weekend of backgammon.
We seem to get started earlier each time, with ad-hoc jackpots and the first heats of the Speedgammon getting underway shortly after lunch on Friday. We were treated to the first of two seminars this year from Julian Fetterlein on the Friday evening, aimed at intermediates – although good for a refresher for anyone! – and after dinner we already had 78 players in action, 24 for the Super Jackpot and 54 for the Warm Up. With an 8.15pm start, play continued deep into the night…
Warm-Up Winner: Sean Clennell, Runner-Up Mardi Ohannessian
Super Jackpot Winner: Volker Sonnabend, Runner-Up Sebastian Wilkinson
We were once again fortunate to have a superb board from Geoffrey Parker for the featured table, in addition to their very generous sponsorship of the main tournament with a £2000 board voucher. Sadly they were unable to be with us in person this year, but we were pleased to welcome displays of boards from Andrew Pinkus and Erhan 869bg. Our featured table had a number of top players playing on camera to the world – many thanks to Aref Alipour for setting up the broadcasts, and you can find all the broadcast games on our Youtube playlist. The main events, as usual in double-elimination format, got underway on Saturday with a very tight schedule for the Masters division with 79 players involved – for the first time we had allocated tables for early round matches, which kept things moving along. The Advanced with 42 was a slightly more relaxed affair, and 8 joined us for the Saturday Social Swiss. Extra incentive to get games played was provided by the FA Cup Final on the big screen in the bar, and a meetup for DailyGammon members at 6.30 before dinner. The evening then saw the Doubles kick off alongside more Super Jackpot games, with play finally winding down at about 2am…
No time for lie-ins for our players, as straight after breakfast there was Julian’s second seminar for advanced players, looking at gammon prices in match play – members can watch it again! We then had the British Backgammon Awards presentations, as well as plaques, T-shirts and badges for our international teams and hand-made cubes for our Founder members before the main tournaments resumed at the last 8 and the Arena Cups kicked off with almost everyone else. The Masters undefeated bracket featured three well-known faces on the circuit – Gaz Owen, Mardi Ohannessian and Costin Constantinescu – and one who only started coming to tournaments in January, Richard Furborough. The crowd gathering in the online chat room seemed particularly enthused by the prospect of a big upset, which duly happened as Richard defeated Gaz to progress to the undefeated final, and then overcame Costin as well. Gaz dropped into round 10 of the fighters to face Lee Gorton, who had made an incredible comeback having been Gaz’s first victim on the Saturday morning and won nine in a row to get a chance at revenge. Lee beat Gaz, only to meet Costin in the fighters’ final which Costin won to set up another rematch with Richard.
Richard ran up a very rapid 8-2 lead in the first final, but Costin chipped away steadily to come back to win 11-8, setting up the second final. After a very long, gruelling day, and with the crowd in Coventry thinning as people began to head for home, this one seemed to fly along as Richard came away victorious at nearly 7pm – £3555 and a board better off, and suddenly top of the UK Tour. Many congratulations to all our winners:
Masters: Winner Richard Furborough; Runner-Up Costin Constantinescu; 3rd Lee Gorton; 4th Gaz Owen
Advanced: Winner Mike Murton, Runner-up Ingrid Sonnabend
Doubles: Winners Romolo Mudu & Antonio Sgambato, Runners-Up Simonetta Herrera & Julian Fetterlein
Speedgammon: Winner Simonetta Herrera; Runner-Up Simon Barget
Arena Cup Masters: Winner Simon Morecroft, Runner-up Simon Barget
Arena Cup Advanced: Winner Donna Sherred, Runner-up Anna Clarke
Saturday Social Swiss: Winner Su Lim
Sunday Social Swiss: Winner Luke Owen
Luke, Gaz’s brother, only joined the UKBGF after he won, so runner up Andrew Pinkus (who was already a member) won the special Geoffrey Parker cube. You can find all the draw sheets here.
Finally, a big thankyou to Peter Bennet, Raj Jansari and Ian Tarr and all their assistants behind the desk who kept everything running smoothly, and to Tim Cross for sponsoring the inevitable UKBGF bags of sweets!