The Worldwide Backgammon Federation’s 2006 Austrian Open, held October 5 to 9, 2006 was a huge success seeing a 33% increase in attendance due mostly to sponsorship by PartyGammon who gave away a seat to the awesome PartyGammon Million tournament to be held at the Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas this coming January.
Several Intermediate players stepped up a level to play in the Masters flight at this 9th Austrian Open, to take a shot at that free seat to PartyGammon Million worth $10,000. As it turned out, Stefan Bobenhausen of Germany was one of these, and he went all the way, seizing the first place money and the added prize from PartyGammon. Well done Stefan!
Stefan Bobenhausen with the Masters Trophy at last week's 9th Austrian Open.
Photo Copyright by François Tardieu
As the seat, in this particular case, was announced as a transferable prize, Bobenhausen has since made a deal with friend Ronald Reinhardt, and it will now be “Sir Ron”, as he is known in the backgammon community, who will be going to The Bahamas in January, aiming to bring home that minimum first prize of a cool half a million dollars. Reinhardt is a world class player with several victories at major international events.
WBF Director Marco Fornasir was exceptionally pleased with the turnout, "it was great success,” he said, "26 players more, 103 compared to 77 in 2005, attended our splendid venue - Hotel Veronika in Seefeld, Austria".
Fornasir he is looking forward to his next international event, the 3rd Caribbean Backgammon Open in St. Maarten, Netherland Antilles, just two weeks away, October 30 to November 4, 2006 where PartyGammon will give away another free PartyGammon Million seat to the player who rolls his way to victory in the Masters flight there.
For more info on the 3rd Caribbean Open see the GammonLife Events Calendar.
GammonLife Editor Michael Strato will report daily from this tournament in St. Maarten. If you’re thinking of going, read this other GammonLife article about the island of St. Maarten, the venue and things to do while visiting there - Last Call For the Third Caribbean Open.
Meanwhile, many players have been asking:
“How will the ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’ signed by President Bush on Friday affect the PartyGammon Million?”
It won’t, the tournament is still on!
Firstly, for those who have not heard about this act, it was recently attached to a Port Security Bill intended to tighten security and close loopholes in anti-terrorist defenses, specifically at ports in the U.S. A few U.S. politicians had been lobbying to stop the flow of U.S. money to online gaming sites and had failed in certain attempts to introduce new laws on this in recent times. However, in a desperate, last-ditch effort, Bill Frist, Senator from Tennessee and Senate Majority Leader, attached the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to the Port Security Bill, which was passed by a vote of 409 to 2 by the Senate two weeks ago, and subsequently signed into law by President Bush on Friday, October 13, 2006. Read more stories about this at Google News. Basically, the new law makes it illegal for online gaming companies to accept deposits of money from players in the U.S. The act is not very clear as it does not specifically mention backgammon, or even poker (which are both considered games of skill), and of course, it does not criminalize U.S. players who can continue to find online sites to play at, that will accept their deposits.
However, PartyGaming Plc, owners of PartyGammon have “suspended with immediate effect all of our real money gaming business with U.S. residents” and this will “continue indefinitely, subject to clarification of the interpretation and enforcement of U.S. law”.
PartyGaming also says, “Access for non-U.S. players will be unaffected and access for Americans wishing to participate in our free play games will also continue uninterrupted.”
For now, players from the USA cannot play in money-based online qualifiers, but live backgammon tournaments, such as PartyGammon Million will continue to be held. Players who wish to buy-in direct at $10,000 can still do so. And while this new law is unfortunate for U.S. players, it does not stop those in the rest of the world from playing online qualifiers to PartyGammon Million – the $440 package-winning qualifiers worth $12,500 continue every weekend on PartyGammon and just yesterday another was won by PG player Kleine_Muck.
PartyGammon Million plans to have 64 players buy in direct and 64 qualify online, but if, for example, less than 64 qualify online, any remaining seats will be made available for sale to more direct buy in players.
Getting back to the Austrian Open, Direct Fornasir reports that Stefan Bobenhausen beat Stefan Parlow of Austria 19 to 5 in the Masters Final.
The Battle of the Stefans - Bobenhausen versus Parlow in the Final.
Photo Copyright by François Tardieu
The Masters Semi-Finalists were Damjan Plesec of Slovenia and Kaha Nachkebia of Georgia while in the Masters Consolation Final, the 2000 European Champion, Harald Johanni of Germany, faced the 2006 European Champion, Michel Serrero of France, with Johanni taking it 17–12. The Semi-Finalists were John Broomfield of the UK and Alfonso Russo of Italy.
In the Last Chance of the Masters Germany’s Rainer Witt went up against the current World Champion, Philip Vischjager of The Netherlands, and Witt won 7-3.
In the Awards Ceremony, (from left to right) Philip Vischjager, Rainer Witt, John Broomfield, WBF co-director Antonio Pieratteli, Michel Serrero, Harald Johanni, Stefan Parlow, Stefan Bobenhausen and WBF Director Marco Fornasir.
Photo Copyright by François Tardieu
In the Champion flight Final, Alexander Reichel of Austria emerged victorious in a close match against Horst Ernst of Germany that ended 17-13. The Champion Semi-Finalists in this category were Peter Winkler of Austria and Günther Holzinger of Germany while in the Champion Consolation Final Italy’s Stefano Rossetti beat Germany’s Günter Hegglin 13-11. Giuseppe Ricciardi of Italy and Tom Meyer of Switzerland were the Champion Consolation Semi-Finalists.
In the Intermediate flight Final, Hans Werner Ketteler of Germany defeated Romania’s Eduard Razvan Tomciuc 11-9. The Intermediate Semi-Finalists were Claudio Cantoni of Italy and Rudolf Prohaska of Austria and in the Intermediate Consolation Final, Hans Werner’s wife, Petra Ketteler beat Vittorio Molè of Italy 9-7. The Intermediate Semi-Finalists were Italians Flavio Bordin and Renato Sovani. Sovani also got to play in the Last Chance where he defeated Austrian Inge Wais 5-4.
Anna Maria Zarb of Switzerland won the Ladies Tournament over Maria Croce of Italy and the Ladies’ Semi-Finalists were Germany’s Ingeborg Haussleiter and Petra Ketteler.
Sixteen teams paid 500 Euros each to play in 3rd European Doubles Consulting Championship, also part of this annual Austrian event, with the German team of Hans Weber and Rainer Witt taking home 6,000 Euros by prevailing 13-10 over the Austrian team of Tunc Hamarat and Michael Higatsberger, who were rewarded 2,000 Euros for their efforts.
This year, the annual WBF Italian Championships were played at this Austrian Open as the annual WBF MittleEuropa tournament in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, where they are normally held, had been cancelled due to renovations at the venue there. In this competition, there are three divisions - F.1, F. 2 and F.3.
Here are the winners of the 2006 Italian Champions:
- F. 1 - Masters - Piergiorgio d'Ancona of Venice.
- F. 2 - Champion - Stefano Rossetti of Jesi.
- F. 3 - Intermediate - Claudio Cantoni of Milan.
In other side events, Cristian Antohe of Romania won the Warm-Up 7-2 over Michael Higatsberger of Austria, while Torsten Haase of Germany took the Sperti Trophy 7-1 against Stefan Parlow of Austria. There were also two One-Point Match competitions - Romania’s Neculai Draganuta won the first while Italians Fabrizio Lo Surdo and Renato Sovani split the prize money in the second.
Masters flight: 39 players
Champion flight: 31 players
Intermediate flight: 31 players
Two women not participating in the main flights joined the Ladies Tournament for a total attendance of 103 players.
The participants came from 15 countries: Argentina, Austria, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, The Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK.
Director: Marco Fornasir - Italy
Tournament Committee: Alberto da Pra (Worldwide Backgammon Federation President); John Broomfield (UK); Piergiorgio d'Ancona (Italy); Harald Johanni (Germany); Michel Serrero (France); Philip Vischjager (The Netherlands); Peter Winkler (Austria).