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France Beats Greece in Nations Cup Quarterfinals - USA's Also Out
by Michael Strato - 20 July 2007
ALEXANDROS KOLONIAS
France eliminated Greece late Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the Nations Cup here at the Palm Bach Casino to grab a spot in the semi-finals against Georgia while Turkey knocked out the USA and will play either Denmark or Israel in the semis.

Meanwhile, the Partouche Gammon Tour main Riviera championship event has also begun with 117 players (and 11 rebuys) vying for the last free-entry to the €100,000 added prize money, grand finale at Grand Domaine de Divonne-Les-Bains in September.

 

You can follow how the Nations Cup teams progressed to the quarterfinals and see the ladder for the last 8 on this page - the ladder we will be updated from the tournament room over the next few days as each result becomes available. As mentioned in our previous article, the event began with 16 teams separated in four groups (A, B, C and D) of four teams that played each other with the best two advancing to a bracket of eight teams (quarterfinals).

 

This reporter (Michael Strato Liberopoulos) teamed up with a new player on the international scene, Alexandros Kolonias of Greece, who played in the Atlantis Million tournament last January. We were in Group A and played Round 1 Tuesday night and then three more rounds on Wednesday – each round is one doubles consultation match of 9 points (played first in the intial bracket) and two singles of 7 points, with clocks set at 15 seconds per move and 3 minutes per point. You get 1 point for each match you win.

Alexandros Kolonias and Michael Strato Liberopoulos play for Greece.

 

Round 1 (Tuesday night) was against the Russian team of Nodar Gagua and Boris Mamporia, which we won 3-0, then on Wednesday, we played Round 2 versus Iran’s Shabab Ghodsi and Tom Zarrinam and also won 3-0. With two wins we were qualified to play in the quarterfinals as was the team from the USA.

Alexandros Kolonias plays Iran's Shabab Ghodsi.

However, to determine who our opponents would be in the quarterfinals we still had to play Round 3 against the USA. The USA team consisted of Carter Mattig, Ed O’Laughlin, Howard Markowitz and Perry Gartner. We lost the Doubles match and then Kolonias beat O’Laughlin and Strato lost to Markowitz. So, Greece then had to play the heavily favourite French team (consisting of Francois Tardieu, Marc Santoroman and Alain Babillon) while the USA played Turkey in the quarterfinals – the USA lost, and so did we (Greece).

 

In the quarterfinals, singles matches were now played first since a doubles consultation would still require the singles to be played anyway – it is now well after midnight Wednesday night.

In my singles match against Marc Santoroman, I was leading 4-1 but then he comes back as I drop cubes in the next couple of games, trying to protect the lead and avoid gammons. Santoroman eventually ties and passes me in the score on the way to 7 points. Then in the last game, after taking a 2 cube, I am badly positioned in Santoroman’s homeboard, on his 5 point waiting for an unlikely blot while he is bearing off A roll or two before what will be my last chance to see a blot, I send the cube back to 4 as it will be a sure gammon win for him if I do not hit (I have many other checkers in the outfield that never made it home and will definitely not get there now). He rolls well and Greece loses the first single.

 

In the other single 7-point match, between my teammate Alexandros Kolonias and my very good friend and GammonLife contributor, Francois Tardieu, (a match recorded by Julie Thabault, which is now analyzed and viewable in the Tournament section courtesy of Partouche Gammon) – the players butt heads and keep the score close - whenever I checked over from my own match, they were usually just one point ahead of each other either way.

Tardieu (L) against Alexandros in the singles.

By Game 9, my match has end and I am now watching their match. Tardieu is ahead 6-5 Crawford to 7, and what looks like a sure gammon for Kolonias, Tardieu runs out of time on the clock and Kolonias wins the match - we must now play the Doubles Consultation, another match which was recorded and was uploaded to the MATCHES area of this event in the Tournament section.

Until now, Kolonias has not lost a singles match and together we have lost only one doubles consultation. By the way, Tardieu said that he simply forgot about the time left on the clock.

 

To make a long story short (and since you can see the entire match anyway), in the 9-point doubles match, losing 8-3 Crawford, we win a gammon in the Crawford game, then a close bearoff race in the next game and we’re now 8-7, and in the last game we double at our first opportunity and it’s do or die. In the end we get lucky and hit a checker as the French team attempt to bear in, but our 1 and 6 point are open and France comes in on the 1 - we leave a single shot on the 6 to cover two other blots and then... on their next roll they hit and go on to win. Congratulations to France!

 

As a side note, I played Kolonias several matches before we began together in the Nations Cup and I can tell you that he played World Class in most of those, according to Snowie. And not to make excuses for him on how we were rated by Snowie in matches you will see on GammonLife – the truth is that my personal level is, on average, only somewhere around low Expert.

In our tough decisions together, I managed to convince Alex to make certain moves that he might not have otherwise played. Therefore, considering these factors - the pressure of clocks, playing three rounds (six matches each in one day) and facing experienced professionals – and being only his second live event, I must state that this 21-year-old newcomer from Greece should be proud of his performance for his country and so should other Greek players. Kolonias has great potential and I hope he continues to come to international events and become a famous champion.

Alex (L) one of the finest players from Greece.

Alex and I have already received a message from another Greek circuit player, Manos Mastorakis, which said:

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Strato and Alexandros,

 

I am watching your progress from on www.gammonlife.com (unfortunately) and you have done really great !!!

Strato, I am glad you helped in forming a Greek team, because I understand how difficult it is to be a player and a reporter at the same time.

Alexandros, I checked the match analysis versus Tardieu and your game play is fantastic.

Keep up the good work guys; I hope I can join the fun next time.

 

Manos

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Playing in the Nations Cup has delayed our coverage to some extent, but now that I am out of the Nations Cup and will not play in the main PGT event (though Alex will), my wife, Marjorie, and I will concentrate on uploading as much new content as possible. There is already plenty to follow so far, ladders, pictorials and matches... check it all out in the Tournaments section.

 

And we’ll have more news today from the main event while keeping you updated on the Nations Cup.

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