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It's Brazil versus Argentina in the 2007 World Championship Final
by Michael Strato - 15 July 2007

DIRECTOR. JAMES BALLIE PREPARES

THE TROPHIES

It was a very thrilling day here yesterday at the World Backgammon Championships, filled with tension, emotion and melodrama as the final four players remaining in the Championship flight sat down to play their semi-final matches to determine who would face off in today’s grand finale for the title of 2007 World Champion of Backgammon.

In the end, those we thought to be the favourites both lost and so it’s Brazil versus Argentina today in the 25-point final match. Will it be sambo or tango tonight? Meanwhile, the American Cup in Soccer is also being disputed today between these same countries in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Which match is more interesting to you?

One of the semi-final matches (that between Alvaro Savio of Brazil and Richard Munitz of the USA) was played in a smaller, separate room, set up with video cameras that fed to two large screens in one of the other big tournament rooms, so that players could sit and enjoy the 23-point match together theatre-style, and make noise if they wanted to. One camera was positioned to the side of the table showing the player face-to-face while the other was fixed overhead to display the action on the board.

One of the screen two screens, Savio (L) and Munitz at 13-12.
The other screen with the action on the boa rd.
The spectators in front of the screens.

The other semi-final (between Jorge Pan of Argentina and Jan Jacobowitz of Germany) was played on a regular table in the main tournament room, and as you may have seen in previous photos, important matches usually gather a huge crowd that circle the table and thus limit comfortable viewing for all... but then again some spectators (and players too) really prefer to have it this way – spectators get to see the expressions on the faces of the players up close, and they can still let out the occasional oohs and aahs when the joker rolls come out.

Pan (L) and Jacobowitz early in the match...
 
...and again later as the tension builds.

Richard Munitz and Jan Jacobowitz were serious and calm throughout, while Alvaro Savio was really hyping himself up throughout the semi, letting out loud hoots and hollers in the main before the match, and during breaks – he could also be heard singing at times. Meanwhile, Jorge Pan was a mix – at the table he was mostly calm and serious but during a break he would pace and smoke his cigar and a very tense moment near the end of his match when he had to leave a crucial shot, Pan said in Spanish that his heart was racing.

This occurred when Pan was bearing off in the last game and rolled a 5-3 leaving a blot which Jacobowitz missed having a 5-point home board, but Pan then rolls another 5-3 leaving another shot which Jacobowitz does hit, now with a closed home board. Pan has seven checkers to bear off if he gets in and around quickly. But Jacobowitz, after bearing off three checkers, leaves a blot on his 5 point, which Pan hits and although Jacobowitz
get one more chance to hit Pan on the way home, Jacobowitz misses and skates to victory.

We recorded the semi-final match between Savio and Munitz and uploaded it to GammonLife last night where you can see it analyzed by the Snowie 4 Pro program in the “MATCHES” area to the Tournament section. Savio played Expert 5.5 while Munitz played Advanced 6.1. There are plenty of interesting positions from that match.

Both matches lasted for about four hours each and ended within less than 10 minutes of each other – Pan versus Jacobowitz finished first. Savio won 23-18 against Munitz while Pan defeated Jacobowitz with a score of 23-20. Pan and Savio are very good friends so in today’s match we are sure to be often hearing, “I love you but I still have to hit you”.

The GammonLife video camera was waiting in the hall for Savio to come out of the private room. In the video, also in the Tournament section in the MOVIE CLIPS area, you can hear Savio chanting in the distance as he is coming around the corner, and then suddenly, Pan see him and goes racing to embrace him and the celebration is on. Yesterday, we also uploaded video clips of our brief chats with Pan and Jacobowitz just before their semi-final began and another of the final moments of their match, check those out too.

Savio and Pan celebrate after the semis.

Today we will be showing you the score of the final match live on the front page of GammonLife, updating it at the end of each game.

Meanwhile, as is usually the case here in Monte Carlo, progress in the Super Jackpot is often delayed because players are busy in their Consolation or Last Chance matches. Sometimes, the final is even played on the Monday after the event. However, this one looks like it will be done today. Late last night (3:30 a.m. this morning) we could see that Ed O’Laughlin of the USA was one of the finalists. On the other side of the bracket, there were two results still missing - Moazed (not sure if it is Farrokh or Johan for it is not indicated on the sheet but we believe it is Farrokh) still had to play Sven Rumcker and the winner of that match would play Christoph Wagener to determine O’Laughlin’s opponent. First prize is $45,000 and second is $20,000.

Here now are some other photos from yesterday:

Director James Ballie places the trophies in the showcase.
Here are some of them.
This one (C) in the one everyone would like to own one day.
Last year's World Champion, Philip Vischjager of The Netherlands, teaches a youngster some basics of the game.
Alvaro Savio, possibly the next World Champion, poses with Sue Boyd.

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