Our third Charity Challenge started back in the autumn of 2018. It’s been a long journey, but we finally have a winner!
This year’s Challenge supported the Alzheimer’s Society, as nominated by last year’s winner Simon Morecroft. In terms of fundraising we beat 2017 by a wide margin and even beat my most ambitious target, raising £776 for the cause. Many thanks to everyone who took part and made it such a success!
We followed the format of last time, with round-robin groups leading to a knockout stage, and with players allowed up to three entries in return for bigger donations, we started off with a massive group stage – 22 groups of seven. My method of drawing so that noone gets the same opponent twice in the groups was rather strained, but we managed it somehow…
Of course that means that someone on form can get multiple places in the knockout; in previous years our winners have all come through with three places (essentially, a bye and a half), and this year three players came that route – Radu Ciortan, Andrew Selby, and myself. Another fourteen came through with two places, and with so many participants our knockout started off at the round of 64 for the first time. I was the first of the leaders to go out, to Mike Williams in round 3; Andrew and Radu both made it to the quarter-finals but no further, Andrew being pitted against fellow London Open TD Simon, and Radu losing to Steve Waller.
Our two semi-finals were Mike against Simon, and Steve against Gaz Owen, giving us our two most recent winners both in with a chance of a second title, but neither managed to pass this stage, so the scene was set for our final this week being Mike v Steve. You can find the match recorded here – the fifteen point final was over all too quickly, with a double-gammon and a quadruple-gammon in the first two games dominating the 15-1 scorecard. eXtremeGammon ruled Mike had the edge in terms of PR, but was taken down by a dreadful -8.5 luck rate. Many congratulations to Steve as our new champion, who now has the job of picking our 2019 charity, and also to Mike for reaching the final against a very strong and very large field.
Look out for the 2019 Charity Challenge beginning in the autumn!