79 players rolled into Didsbury, Manchester for the 3rd Manchester Open which this year had absolutely nothing to do with the Grand National. Whilst all the runners and riders were waiting for starters’ orders, a new prize was awarded by way of settling everyone down and allowing time for a few stray horses such as Michael Levi back into the playing room, carefully handled by his trainer, Steve Bibby.
The SPIRIT OF BACKGAMMON is a new award which is presented to the player who the TDs decide has played the game in the right spirit, attempted to promote the game and provided support and encouragement for new and experienced players alike. Despite several contenders, the very deserving inaugural winner was Irving Czechowicz
The MAIN TOURNAMENT was fought hard as usual with the early front runners, Neil Foston, Rob Perry, Julia Hayward and Sean Jones all sailing over Beachers Brook easily first time around. One or two early favourites such as Kevin Jones and Cube Boss, though heavily backed, found the going hard, Richard Coburn left for the buffet half way through a game and was timed out due to waiting for seconds on the chicken curry, Sean Clennell had to leave but it was definitely nothing to do with excessive use of the whip around the bar area. Your correspondent’s horse was deemed to be carrying too great a weight and retired. Not all was bad because out of this early carnage, striding through like Gandalf at Helms Deep, were Simon Kennedy Rose and Matthew Fisher who played a great Unlucky Swiss final with Simon taking the honours. Radu Ciortan was safely tucked in the leading pack but Tim Cross had virtually been discounted by our commentators Stadtler and Waldorf, having stumbled at the Sean Jones and Cristi Cozos fences.
After the Canal Turn the race heated up, with Jon Barnes the Bookies favourite, unseated by what can only be described as a rampant Ian Turner fence and last year’s winner Jon Wilkinson overtaken by Julia Hayward enjoying her best ever National. Tim Cross, having veered off to Newmarket, had to overcome an incredible set of fences (or play offs as some call them) of Chris Derry, Mike Ireland, Neil Webb, Ian Gray and finally Andrew “Gibby” Gibson to even re-join the field.
Bad luck to Christi (his second successive semi) and Brian Lever but in the end Tim Cross triumphed over the tremendously consistent Radu Ciortan 11-8 in a very good final
Those riderless horses went off and had their own CONSOLATION race with late entrant Jamie MacPherson winning the final against Saul Brody. The LAST CHANCE saw Gregge Madan beat last year’s winner Fanika Petkovska. Despite being somewhat of an also ran in the MAIN, Cube Boss polished off a couple of pints and feverishly devouring a family size packet of liquorice allsorts – beat the unlucky Adam Stocks in the ONE POINT final.
Fanika was not finished there as she and partner Richard Coburn were very popular winners of the Doubles and David Gallagher won a close FREEROLL final against Irving Czechowicz. David has proved many times what a good player he is but nevertheless was grateful that Irv had started writing his Leyton Orient team talk half way throughout the final.
SPECIAL thanks go to Peter Snape for his Tournament Direction on the weekend and his dedication and advice beforehand and also to Mark Calderbank for the brilliant and innovative results and draw displays available in the room and on line as well as his support to preparation. Thanks too to Jamie Evans for his Tournament Direction and wisdom. Despite the hunt for Saul Brody’s dice taking almost 2 days and hours of negotiations over whether we should fly in Michael Levi’s favourite musicians Joey Badass and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to present him with the SUPER JACKPOT trophy after beating Vinny Nolan in the final – it was a real credit to those mentioned to ensure the tournament was by and large on time. Thanks also to Paul and all his staff at the casino who were great.
Finally, thanks to all our players for making it what we hope was an enjoyable and value for money tournament. If you are lucky enough to open any Christmas presents this year and you find you’ve been given our missing table number 24 then Kevin Jones would be very grateful for its safe return…
An extra thankyou to Mate Feher, who has published the final on Youtube! – Julia