After a couple of years in Hampstead, the London Open returned to the centre of the capital in style, its new home being the Ambassador Hotel in Bloomsbury.
It’s also moved under the umbrella of Backgammon London, with Andrew Selby and Simon Morecroft directing. A very large turnout was expected with both Masters (80) and Intermediates (48) sold out in advance.
The Friday night warm-up started off with 44 players in a straight knockout, 5 pointers, and I managed to repeat my West Yorkshire feat of being the first to hand a result in, after some rather outrageous dice brought me a double-gammon and a 5-0 scoreline in about ten minutes… and two more wins put me in good shape. Luck then took an unusual twist, as Thameslink cancelling late trains resulted in some frantic running down the road to St Pancras… and a 9am start to catch up with the fourth round!
Saturday stretched the playing room to the limit with a full house of 128 and the team behind the desk did a fantastic job of keeping everything running smoothly with very little space to play with… the now common Swiss Saturday format and fixture congestion from the warm-up keeping everyone playing for most of the day. Once people started getting eliminated, Speedgammon jackpots started up, with BGBuddy in charge and earning itself more fans.
The weekend also featured the UK Junior Championships, and it was fantastic to see a good turnout of potential future stars, as well as welcoming the current Junior World Champion David Broomfield. This was quite a lengthy event, with a double-elimination format; it was perhaps no surprise that the final was a repeat of the exhibition match from West Yorkshire last year, and ultimately David added another title to his already impressive collection…
The Masters final was a hard-fought match – Andy Bell taking an early lead and a good sequence of games taking him to a 9-3 lead and apparently heading for a comfortable win. The next game turned out to be a long, draining backgame resulting in a double-gammon for Sean and suddenly the match came to life again at 9-7. More complex games followed and both players were visibly drained towards the end; ultimately Andy clung on to his lead to take the title. Many congratulations to both, it was a great match to watch and a great performance against a very strong field. Sean’s disappointment was no doubt tempered by the fact that as the last standing UKBGF member, he collected the £1500 Geoffrey Parker board voucher and TWI place – we do labour the point that it’s very worthwhile to be a member!
Many thanks to Andrew, Simon and their assistants for a fantastic weekend! Also thanks to Peter Bennet, who took a whole album of pictures which you can see here.
Masters (80): Winner Andy Bell, finalist Sean Jones, semi-finalists Cato Fordham and Romolo Mudu
Consolation: Winner Stuart Mann, finalist Catalin Bucur
Last Chance: Winner Rod Hanreck, finalist Raj Jansari
Intermediate (48): Winner Petar Vidovic, finalist Stein Posthuma, semi-finalists Rosalie Johnson and Chris Purchase
Consolation: Winner John O’Neill, finalist Dom Murgia
Last Chance: Winner Rita Gruppioni, finalist Tim Parfitt
Warm-Up: Winner Sue Perks, finalist Bek Barbaros
Junior Championship (9): Winner David Broomfield, finalist Eli Nixey
Super Jackpot: Winner Engin Ongel, finalist Eric McAlpine