The Riviera Challenge is the last stop of the tour in which one can earn a seat to the magnificent Grand Domaine de Divonne-Les-Bains event, an entry-free tournament that will payout €100,000 in added money.
The tournament is being held in a huge salon of the Palm Beach Casino, an elegant setting with marble walls, carpeted floors, high ceilings and a huge stage where some of the matches to be played in the next few days will be filmed for the World Series of Backgammon television series.
Director Eric Guedj of Partouche Gammon welcomed the Nations Cup players yesterday afternoon, and told GammonLife he was happy with the turnout, “we have some of the best in the world here and this will be a very thrilling event.”
And indeed, some of the hottest players in the world, including Giants of Backgammon are here to play for their country's pride and honour. The 16 countries participating, in the order they appear on the brackets are: the USA, Russia, Greece, Iran, Israel, England, Italy, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Georgia, Armenia, France, Japan, Turkey and the Ukraine.
The brackets are set up soccer-style, with four groups of four countries, and Groups marked A, B, C and D. Some countries were seeded based on their previous participation and a public draw was held to determine the placement of the other countries and the pairings for Round 1. See the names of the players for each country and which countries are in each group on this page. There is also some text at the bottom of that page which explains how the event will proceed.
In brief, the teams first play a Double Consultation match of 9 points and then two single matches of 7 points. Winning any of these earns points, so if you do win them all you get 3 points.
Alexandros Kolonias of Greece, who played in the Atlantis Million last January, did not have another Greek player to make up his team and therefore, this reporter, Michael Strato Liberopoulos, proudly offered to partner with him to represent Greece.
Greece had to play Russia in Round 1 yesterday, a two-member team consisting of Nodar Gagua and Boris Mamporia, and we were down 5-0 in the doubles consultation match but came back to win 9-7. Then we both won our singles match 7-1 and 7-2. This gave us three points and we now lead in Group A. Our doubles match was recorded and can be viewed at this link.
Other matches have been recorded and many others will be as well, and we be getting those up for you to view as soon as possible.
It will be very difficult to concentrate on playing well and reporting efficiently at the same time but we will do our best to provide GammonLife readers with as much information from this event as possible - updates on the progress of the teams, articles, photos and matches, and hopefully some video clips. Things will be easier to do if we get eliminated from the Nations Cup - but we're not counting on that!
We have made some images of the Group sheets on the board in the tournament rooms that show yesterday’s pairings, the score after the three matches were played in Round 1 and which teams play each other today in Round 2:
Group A sheet - www.gammonlife.com/07ncgroupa.jpg
Group B sheet - www.gammonlife.com/07ncgroupb.jpg
Group C sheet - www.gammonlife.com/07ncgroupc.jpg
Group D sheet - www.gammonlife.com/07ncgroupd.jpg
Round 2 will be played at 2:30 p.m. today and then Round 3 at 5:00 p.m., from which will emerge eight teams that will play in the quarterfinals bracket tonight at 10:30 p.m. Then tomorrow the Partouche Gammon Tour’s Riviera Challenge begins (two rounds will be played) starting at 3:30 p.m. and the semi-final of the Nations Cup is at 10 p.m.
Photos from yesterday to come later. We have to run to play Round 2...