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Players Arrive for WBF's 1st Nice Casino Ruhl Backgammon Open
by Michael Strato - 6 July 2007
MARCO FORNASIR
NICE, France - A sizzling sun above clear blue skies prevailed yesterday here in the beautiful French Riviera city of Nice as backgammon players from around the world began to arrive to participate in the 1st Nice Casino Ruhl Backgammon Open organized by the Worldwide Backgammon Federation (WBF).

Casino Ruhl, one of the Barrière Group's many elegant casinos, is situated at 1 Promenade des Anglais, a busy boulevard that runs along the edge of the city’s centre right next to the beach.

Some 40 to 50 players had arrived last night – just a few familiar names already here are Ed O’Laughlin and Doug Mayfield of the USA, Mochizuki Masayuki of Japan, Chris Ternel of the UK, Arda Findikoglu of Turkey , Michel Serrero of France, Fabrizio Lo Surdo of Italy, Artur Muradian of Armenia while Francois Tardieu of France, Backgammon Giant #3, will arrive today as will many other players from all over – especially from France and nearby Italy and no less than eight from Armenia are here or en route.

The main flights of this tournament will begin this evening (Friday) and run until Sunday. Meanwhile there was plenty of backgammon to play last night for the early birds, who took part in the entry-fee Sperti Trophy and Warm-Up side events.

WBF Director Marco Fornasir and his team also got a 64-player, €5, 1-pointer President’s Tournament started – there will be probably be three of these fast tournaments over the next few days, keeping players busy with action between their matches in the main event.


Yesterday afternoon, 24 early birds started a 32-player bracket in the Warm-Up event, which we have created a ladder for at this link, while after the supper break, many of the same players along with others that had arrived, 29 in total, began another 32-player bracket for the Sperti Trophy event; the progress of that ladder can be seen here.

The winner of the Warm-Up will be awarded with a complimentary hotel room at next year’s 2nd Nice Casino Ruhl Backgammon Open while the winner of the Sperti Trophy takes home a luxurious backgammon board made by a WBF sponsor, Alfredo Sperti of Italy.

The Warm-Up is down to the final, which will likely be played later today – it’s Asbjorn Arntzen of Norway versus Mochizuki Masayuki of Japan.

Meanwhile, we noticed Ed O'Laughlin pondering this position in his Warm-Up match against Michel Serrero last night:

Serrero (White) leads 1-0 in the 5-point match and here in the second game has been cubed by O’Laughlin (Black) who has a 2-1 to play. The pip count is Black 110 – White 111.

Should O’Laughlin just try to win this game making one of the safe plays or should he hit Serrero’s lone checker moving 11/9* 9/8 and give Serrero shots at the blot he creates on the 11 point? (See Answer at the end of this article.)


Here are some photos from the charming cabaret of the Ruhl Casino where this WBF tournament is being held:

The tournament room just before the early bird events begin.
Players begin to play in the side events.

Ed O'Laughlin pondering the position mentioned in this article

in his Warm-Up match against Michel Serrero.

Ricard Malas of Spain, who is of Lebanese origin and currently lives in the Canary Islands, takes on Arda Findikoglu of Turkey in the Sperti Trophy event. Arda is the President of the Turkish Backgammon Association.
Seda Koc of Turkey won events at the 2007 European Championships earlier this year and is the wife-to-be of Arda Findikoglu.
Japan's top player, Mochizuki Masayuki, who has vowed to become the player with the lowest error rate in the world, seen here playing in the Warm-Up event. "Mochy" as he is known by friends, will also be in Monaco next week and then Cannes the following week.
WBF President Alberto da Pra caught off guard by the camera.
Costa Rica's Marjorie Serrano Blanco versus Florin Popa in the Sperti Trophy. Florin is originally from Romania but now lives in Italy.
Everyone is interested in the profiles of tournament players at ibgdb.com.

We’ll have daily news on GammonLife from this tournament along with the brackets of the three main flights, pictorials and hopefully some matches. Then, on Monday we’ll head over to Monaco where we will bring you week-long coverage of the most famous venue in the world, the 32nd annual World Backgammon Championships in Monte Carlo, followed by another full week of exciting backgammon news from the Partouche Gammon Tour’s 5th Riviera Challenge and Nations Cup in Cannes.

Answer: In the position problem above, Snowie 3-ply says it’s a huge blunder not to play 11/9* 9/8. Snowie’s second play lists 11/9* 11/10, as a blunder of -0.156, and the third listed play of 4/2 4/3 (-0.162) only leaves you 5% chances of winning a gammon while you more than double your chances (10.6%) with the correct play of 11/9* 9/8.

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