Last weekend a battalion of 14 backgammon players from Paris ‘invaded’ West London to challenge the same number of London players in the second London-Paris team event: a bit like 1066, but with backgammon boards instead of spears, battle-axes and bows and arrows.
The 14 players from each city were divided into two teams, and the battle lines were
London A v Paris A
London B v Paris B
The composition of the armies…sorry, teams…was as follows:
London A: Sebastian Wilkinson, Peter Bennet, Lawrence Powell, Raj Jansari, Geoff Oliver, Richard Biddle and Eric Maillebiau
Paris A: Aurelien Bonnet, Eric Benichou, Nader Dalili, Fréderic Bonard, Alain Babillon, Gildas Racapé, Patrice de Sainte Marie
London B: Emad Salib, Simon Morecroft, David Dennis, Len Brown, Simon Hopper, Joseph Sarkis and Trudi Seely
Paris B: Evan Bourgnon, Thomas Stroke, Greg Boghossian, Catherine Beal, Romeo Lup, Lauris Demetriades, Etienne Savary
The venue for this momentous confrontation was The Grange pub in Ealing, and the event was masterminded by Eric Maillebiau – now most definitely a Londoner having lived over here for many years. Eric had organised the first London-Paris challenge in Paris a year ago, and this was the return match. To get a better feel for the atmosphere and camaraderie see the full photo album 2018 London-Paris in the UKBGF Flickr account.
The format for each pair of teams was both a singles championship and a team tournament rolled into one, with all Paris v London matchups counting in both competitions. Match lengths were seven points throughout, with reduced clock settings to speed things along. Survivors from the Saturday triple elimination Swiss went into an 8-player knockout on Sunday, while those eliminated from the singles continued to do battle for their team. Full consultation team matches rounded off the weekend.
Following the Swiss phase, a ‘truce’ was called on Saturday night. This enabled most of the combatants to take a trip on the tube to Leicester Square, and onwards on foot to our pre-booked restaurant in Soho, where there was much merriment and a not inconsiderable consumption of alcohol….
Back at the Grange on Sunday morning there were a few bleary eyes, but fortunately Geoff and David managed to hold things together. London A exacted their revenge for the mauling they had suffered in Paris a year earlier by convincing themselves that home advantage was a significant factor.
The four semi-finalists in the ‘A’ competition were all London players: Seb, Raj, Eric and Peter with Seb emerging undefeated over the both days as the individual winner. The final consultation match became irrelevant to the outcome as London A had already won, but it was played anyway, for honour….and a round of drinks! This was recorded and analysed by Dicky Biddle, and might even be published at some point.
In the B division, the away team was victorious, and Romeo Lup also triumphed in the singles. However due to, er…an administrative slip-up, I accidentally took home Romeo’s trophy from the venue at the end of the day along with boards, clocks and other equipment. Fortunately, Romeo was staying on in London for a couple of days and, with the help of David Dennis, I was able to arrange a second presentation at Euston station 48 hours later!
The event is now so well-established that it would be unthinkable not to send teams over to Paris again next year. Watch this space….