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Many Champs Out After First Two World Championships Rounds
by Michael Strato - 11 July 2007
MARIO KÜHL
MONTE CARLO, Monaco: The three main divisions of the 32nd Monte Carlo World Backgammon Championships began here yesterday at the Fairmont Monte Carlo Hotel in Monaco at 2 p.m. with some 342 registered players attending from every corner of the globe.

You will be able to follow the progress of the players throughout this event (which ends Sunday) on GammonLife.com by checking the ladders we have re-created from the ones posted in the tournament room. These sheets took us most of yesterday to prepare and can be seen in our Tournaments section under Ladders.

If we have not miscalculated there are a total of 342 competitors (six more than last year) in the main flights of this event – 218 in the Championship, 76 in the Intermediates and 48 in the Beginners.

Championship flight in full swing yesterday.
 
Scene of the room from another angle.
 
Main desk of the tournament - staffers talk to Director James Ballie (R).

Two or three full rounds were played play in all flights yesterday and play will continue tomorrow (Thursday) at 4 p.m. as this is the night of the fantastic Gala Dinner - a multi-course meal with a live show at the Sporting Club. The club is about a kilometre down the road from the tournament scene at the Fairmont Monte Carlo Hotel and has a sliding roof – players will wine, dine and dance under the stars (if it doesn’t rain).

Most of the world’s top pros attending, including several Backgammon Giants and former World Champions, were knocked out in the first day’s play yesterday but several others survive as you will be able to see by checking the Championship ladder here.

To summarize, Francois Tardieu, Jake Jacobs, Schmucki, Mike Svobodny, Sander Lylloff, Dennis Carlston, Tobias Hellwag, Masayuki Mochizuki, Eric Guedj, Perry Gartner, Luigi Villa, Michel Serrero, Philip Vischjager and Malcolm Davis are all off to the Consolation.

For several of these, and without mentioning names, Monte Carlo is a recurring nightmare – they do well everywhere else but when it comes to Monte Carlo they just can’t get past Round 1 or 2.

It must be frustrating since many train for days before the event and some come from very far; such as Backgammon Giant #14, Jake Jacobs (of the USA but currently based in the Far East), who between planes and layovers was awake for over 40 hours just travelling here. Jake defeated Audronis Zunde of the USA in Round 1 but was knocked out in Round 2 by Carlos Pinto, a seasoned tournament player from Brazil. It was Jake’s first visit to Monte Carlo. (By the way, Sander Lylloff of Denmark, a heavy favourite, was also defeated by a well known Brazilian player, Ary Nogueira.)

 

The bookmaker’s favourite, Backgammon Giant #3 Francois Tardieu of France, got gammoned three times in his Round 1 match against Shimon Kagan of Israel, losing it 17-3 while a gentleman who has done a lot to popularize and support backgammon for decades, Mike Svobodny of the USA, Backgammon Giant #24 and the 1984 World Champion, was eliminated by Katja Spillum of Norway, the 2002 Champion of Europe.

There are many fine players here, some more recognized than others, and a few totally unknown. With the above mentioned out of the Main, we believe that the following players now have better chances of going all the way – in no particular order, Peter Heitmueller, Alvaro Savio, Ed O'Laughlin, Howard Markowitz, Volker Sonnabend, Robert Lindbom, Richard Munitz, Sven Rumcker, Kenji Shimodaira, Timo Vaatainen, Didier Assaraf, Matvey (Falafel) Natanzon, Shahab Ghodsi, Mario Kühl, Martin Foldager, Karsten Nielsen, Andreas Humke, Pia Jeppesen and, if the time has finally come for a UK player to take the title, watch out for John Clark.

Mario Kühl of the Backgammon Today magazine chats with Francois Tardieu of France, three-time European Champion and BG Giant #3.

Many of the previously mentioned players have won major events or have titles. Inside tip, place a small bet on Didier Assaraf of France, thought not very well known outside of his own country, he is said to have a very low error rate. Also, don’t forget these other ladies - Antoinette-Marie Williams and Simonetta Barone-Herrera who are doing well in the Championship so far.

Here now are four positions from Round 1 provided to us by a top pro - we will not publish the analysis on these until tomorrow, so think about them and then check this article again tomorrow for the rollouts:


Position 1

White on roll

Cube action?

17-point match

Red 1 - White 0

Pip count Red 148 - White 132


Position 2

Red to play 5-3

17-point match

Score Red 3 - White 5

Pip count Red 105 - White 91


Position 3

Red on roll

Cube action?

17-point match

Score Red 3 - White 15

Pip count Red 123 - White 139


Position 4

Red to play 5-5

17-point match

Score Red 0 - White 1

Pip count Red 132 - White 148


The $1,500 Super Jackpot started today (Wednesday) but action in the main divisions only resumes tomorrow (Thursday) at 4 p.m. Tonight is the elegant Gala Dinner at the Sporting Club, where everyone will be dressed at their best - we’ll have lots of photos for you from the dinner tomorrow.

Photos from yesterday and today are now being uploaded - watch for those pictorials to appear in the Tournaments section a little later today. You can already see images of boards displaying the odds bookmakers have put on the players - see then in the Bookmakers Odds area of the Tournaments section.

 


ANALYSIS OF POSITIONS IN THIS ARTICLE

Position 1

White on roll

Cube action?

17-point match

Red 1 - White 0

Pip count Red 148 - White 132


Position 2

Red to play 5-3

17-point match

Score Red 3 - White 5

Pip count Red 105 - White 91


Position 3

Red on roll

Cube action?

17-point match

Score Red 3 - White 15

Pip count Red 123 - White 139

 


Position 4

Red to play 5-5

17-point match

Score Red 0 - White 1

Pip count Red 132 - White 148

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