Charity trustee and backgammon player Sidi Shatku welcomed forty-eight people, including thirty backgammon players, some non-playing guests and one TD, to the Mountbatten Room at the RAC in Pall Mall, London, last Sunday (26th November). They had all gathered for a fun day of backgammon, brunch and fundraising for ‘The Squad‘ – a small charity helping people with learning disabilities. Organised by Sidi at very short notice, this event was similar to the much larger ‘Scope’ annual Backgammon and Bridge tournament, the 19th edition of which will also be hosted by the RAC next March. In fact the Squad tournament was dubbed “Scope-lite.” 😊
The event kicked off with brunch, followed by a raffle and live auction. Auction lots included a week in a Val D’Isere ski chalet, and backgammon lessons donated by Chris Hamilton and Backgammon Workshop. Bearing in mind the lack of a professional auctioneer (Sidi Shatku and Peter Bennet performed a double act!) the sum of £2,500 raised in the auction was a very respectable total. Adding the raffle ticket sales, entry fees and player auction proceeds, and after deducting costs, the charity will benefit to the tune of over £5000 – a lifeline for The Squad which now must survive without the help of any local authority funding.
The tournament format comprised a Main knockout with non-progressive Consolation (2-match guarantee). All matches (except the Main final) were to 7 points. Winners in both the Main and the Consolation were to receive a backgammon board. For the Main winner, thanks to the support of Tim Line and Erhan Doğrusöz himself, this was the first of the new larger size Erhan boards (with 2” checkers) to appear in the UK. A stylish brown and cream Dal Negro board generously donated by Chris Hamilton awaited the winner of the Consolation. Unlucky players who were knocked out of both could stay for mini-tournaments to win one of two beautiful “Squad” doubling cubes specially made by Geoffrey Parker Games or, when these had been won, a bottle of champagne. The cubes were won by Tariq Siddiqi and Simon Morecroft, while Trudi Seely collected the bottle of champagne.
In the Main 9-point final, Antonio Sgambato didn’t show Andrew Selby any mercy and after two games had jumped to an 8-0 lead. A little later Antonio was the proud owner of the Erhan board. In spite of losing the final, Andrew seemed well-pleased with his runner-up prizes and trophy.
CHAMPION DAVID SLAYS SEVERAL GOLIATHS…
A father and his son were both playing in this event: Broomfield senior won his first two matches in the Main but then fell to Antonio Sgambato in the third round. Carefully avoiding his dad, 12-year old David lost his first match of the Main and so migrated to the Consolation. Here, giant-slayer David beat: Jerry White, Lawrence Powell, Nick Ray and Romolo Mudu to win a very attractive Dal Negro board, along with a trophy and a bottle of champagne…for his dad of course!
David has had previous tournament successes including winning the Junior World Championship in Monte Carlo three times. Someone will surely correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is the first open event he has won. Someone to watch out for over the next few years….
Thanks to all the generous donors who made this event such a success, to all the players who attended, and to Richard Hartigan who ably directed it. The Squad were delighted with the result, which exceeded their expectations, and plans are already being made for the 2018 Squad tournament. Meanwhile, to see more pictures taken at this year’s event look for the Squad Album on the UKBGF Flickr site. You can also find out more about the work of this small but essential charity by visiting http://thesquad.org.uk/