First of all, we would like to thank all 128 players for making 2019 a sell-out.
Many players took advantage of the cheap Thursday night hotel rates to arrive early and miss the Friday traffic. This resulted in over 70 players being in the room at 2pm on Friday for the first of our added money Freerolls, and what proved to be the very popular cashouts (an idea we stole from Roger Porter).
Moving on to the evening we hosted our inaugural North-West/South-East challenge. Ten top UK players forming 2 teams battled it out for over 3 hours with the South-East coming out on top in the final game of the final match – good competitive fun. We had over 100 players turn up for the evening session with many of them taking part in the second Freeroll or the optional Jackpot.
On Saturday morning – and possibly a first for a UK event – we had 128 players sitting down quietly at 10am and we started play bang on time at 10.15!!! We were trialling a new format which enabled us to get rid of the unpopular “playoff” system and, from the feedback received during the weekend and in response to our follow up email, it seems the vast majority of you like it as only one player so far preferred the playoffs.
By 7pm…still on schedule…we had our 16 qualifiers for the Sunday knockout phase. A further 32 players, having lost their first two 9pt matches, had battled it out and produced a winner in the Tower trophy event. Whilst the main Saturday action was happening, players were eagerly signing up to our traditional evening backgammon events. We are also grateful to Guy Haslam from BoneClub boards who was running a beginners event in the top bar.
After a hectic day, players took a break for dinner but were soon back in the room at 9pm for the Saturday evening session. The main event is shelved and players have the option of a number of side events including our popular Triples comprising 16 teams totalling 48 players, 23 in the poker, 8 in SuperJackpot, and further players in other jackpots, chouettes and ongoing cashouts….the buzz and noise in the room was a huge contrast to the afternoon session.
Sunday morning and the serious stuff resumed with the top 16 in the main and 112 in the Fylde trophy. At midday, defeated players move into the Lancastrian trophy as all the other events reach the latter stages. By early evening we had our finalists in all events (results can be seen in the previous blogpost). The Imperial Cup final was underway, and we had Paul Christmas battling Gaz Owen for the title. This year, because many players had decided on the relaxing option of staying over Sunday night, we had a decent crowd watching the final which is always nice. Many congratulations to both finalists and especially to Paul who, as a UKBGF Tour event winner and current UKBGF member, wins an automatic place in the Tour Winners Invitational Tournament to be held at Shrigley Hall Hotel over the weekend of 25-26 January 2020.
All done and dusted and 25 of us headed off to a local curry house for our traditional post-tournament wind down.
As I mentioned earlier, we did trial a new format this year. With Mark Calderbank as part of the team we are in the enviable position having a quality results system which I know many of you commented on in a very positive way. We wanted the schedule to be kept particularly tight and with table numbers, and by handing out clocks from the outset, we were able to achieve this. We were also strict on penalty points.
On the subject of clocks it was quite evident, from the large number of players bringing along their own, that it is increasingly becoming the preferred option. Several players have asked about ‘clock mandatory’ in the main events for 2020, which may enable us to increase some match lengths. Your opinion on this would be very much appreciated.
Before I finish, I would like to mention our relationship with the hotel. Nine years ago, I approached several large hotels in the area with a view to hosting a tournament. The event management at the Imperial were the only ones who were enthusiastic and willing to take a risk in hosting a tournament that was going to involve risk on both sides. They have continued to support us and, from a personal perspective, provide us with a venue that has an atmosphere fitting for a tournament.
The hotel start work on the following year’s event when Kev and I meet the event manager on the Monday morning following our tournament. A lot of things may be taken for granted including the excellent playing room, the dedicated subsidised bar in the room, overheads such as heating, lighting, staff, tables and chairs and those unseen individuals that arrive at 3am every morning to clean the room, replace tablecloths and get everything ready for our arrival at 8am and yours at 9.30am :-).
The relationship with the hotel is a two-way thing and I hope you consider this when making your accommodation bookings next year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your continued support and to report that Blackpool 2020 was sold out within three days of the 2019 event finishing last weekend. A waiting list is now in operation.
Finally, and probably most importantly, we were able to donate £500 to Rescue Helicopters in the week leading up to our event and a further £1500 to Streetlife, our chosen charity for this year.
Well done to everyone and see you all next year.
John, Kev, Mark