On Sunday 17th March the last ever Scope Backgammon & Bridge tournament was held at the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall. It was a fantastic day of fundraising and backgammon and a great success for Scope, raising over £25,000 for its work helping disabled people to lead more independent lives.
Most guests had gathered in the RAC Committee Room to catch up with old friends and drink champagne until noon, when it was time for brunch. Close to 150 guests filled the Mountbatten Room for a memorable brunch with much merriment….and more champagne!
The numbers broke down roughly as follows:
32 Masters Backgammon
50 Swiss Championship Backgammon
20 Brunch guests
Then the serious business of fundraising for Scope began.
The writer and broadcaster (not to mention keen backgammon player) Rick Edwards was our host and auctioneer this year. Rick claimed never to have conducted an auction before, but he was entertaining as well as successful in coaxing guests to dig deep and outbid each other for great prizes in both the live and silent auctions.
At this point I will digress for a moment to mention a podcast about backgammon in the ‘Medium Brow’ series presented by Rick Edwards and his friend George Lamb three years ago on Radio Wolfgang, and in which I was invited to participate. If you haven’t already heard it, it’s worth a listen – click here and select episode 94.
Back to the serious stuff. Live auction prizes ranged from a lesson and doubles partnership package courtesy of Backgammon Workshop, to a 10-person holiday in a beautiful Somerset cottage. Together with the silent auction, these items raised over £10,000 for Scope to add to tournament entry fees and other donations. Figures haven’t been finalised yet, but the total profit for Scope is expected to be over £25,000.
The fundraising was followed by the Masters player auction. As last year this was a double act between Sean Williams and myself, and generated over £2k, with a 30% chunk of that heading Scope’s way. Rick Edwards played in the Swiss Championship, as did Mike Main (aka Mike Mad Monk), who was TD of this very event for a number of years.
The Masters tournament was a single knockout with non-progressive Consolation, and after frantic efforts over the previous 48 hours (including a couple of ‘upgrades’ from the Swiss Championship for Intermediate or Social players) we had a perfect 32 Masters draw. Soon after tea-time we were down to the semi-finalists. Rick Hirst, who had won the Swiss Championship last year, came frome 1-6 behind to beat me in a DMP thriller, 9-8, while Simon Morecroft overcame Lewis Potter in the other semi.
It was getting quite late so the final was reduced from 11 to 9 points. Rick pulled ahead 8-5 Crawford and Simon looked odds on to win a doubled gammon to make for another DMP finish…that is until he was hit in the bear-off. Rick Hirst sealed the win and becomes the last Scope Masters Champion. Rick therefore wins ANOTHER Geoffrey Parker board!
In the Swiss Championship, Connar Baird was the best performer, and his prize made the trip down from the Midlands worthwhile!
Full backgammon results are as follows (I don’t have the bridge right now):
Champion – Rick Hirst
Finalist – Simon Morecroft
Semi-finalists – Peter Bennet and Lewis Potter
Winner – Romolo Mudu
Finalist – Larry Smyth
Champion – Connar Baird
Runner up – James Ramsay
So is this really the end? Well, it’s almost certainly the last time that Scope will be involved but it is just possible that the charity Backgammon and Bridge event might continue in support of a different charity and perhaps with a different format. Right now, I can’t say….