Rosey - The Roving Reporter

Follow the backgammon exploits of our intrepid reporter, Rosey Bensley

as she rolls her way around the world - ably supported by Slats!

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SCANDINAVIA

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Munkebjerg Sandinavian Challenge

October 14 th To 17 th 2004

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Held At The Munkebjerg Hotel, Denmark

Report by Rosey Bensley

 

Slatts, Julian Minwalla (Jules) and myself were taken to Gatwick for our flight to that well-known airport Billund, (famous for Legoland), by a very smart Paul Gilbertson. Jules did complain that whilst Paul looked excellent in his suit he was disappointed that he'd forgotten his chauffeur's hat! It was great to have Jules travelling with us, this being his first International since Thailand in January 2004. The flight was uneventful and after a 40 minute taxi ride we arrived at the hotel. We were just in time for Slatts to do a half-entry which proved to be a good thing since he won convincingly (9-1) and saved himself 400 euros.

 

Simonetta and Roland had been in Denmark since Tuesday and were happy to be playing backgammon in the country where they have made so many good friends. Ralph Eskinazi and David Fall were both there, accompanied by their lovely wives Val and Christine. Only 7 Brits playing in the inaugural tournament or so I thought. There turned out to be another Brit playing Marks Banks the Casino Manager who hailed from Newcastle originally.

 

The public draw brought a few groans when Slatts and Jules were drawn together. Fortunately, the draw was deemed null and void when it was found that some late entrants had been put in twice! There were 43 in the Championship division, 31 in the Advanced and 44 in the Amateurs. The Danes out-numbered the foreigners by 5 1. 13 countries were represented. I must admit I was very disappointed to see that the other Scandinavian countries had failed to support this new tournament run by Lars Bonding. There was only one Norwegian (Katja Spillum) and no Swedish competitors. I came to the conclusion that it was the Danes reputation for being strong players that must have kept them away. This reputation was upheld when the last turned out to be all Danes! For the full list of players and the results go to the official website www.scandinavian-challenge.com

 

Battle commenced and all I am going to say about my first match is to quote my opponent I have never seen anyone dance so many times on a 2-point board!

 

I joined Slatt's first match against Bodholdt (Denmark) when the score was 99 and Slatts (black) offered the 2-cube in this position:-

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17 point match

Black 9   White 9

Black cube action?

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Snowie says this is a no-double, take and Slatts must have been thinking the same thing after he rolled one of his worst numbers 66. He made the best move (according to Snowie), which was 21/9(2). His opponent rolled 4 /2, hits and Slatts danced several times before he was offered the cube on 4 and declined it.

 

In the next game Slatts got an early advantage and cubed which was a definite take. He then rolled badly and ended up behind in the race 111 to 99. He was offered a re-cube to 4 and this time he takes. He did manage to roll in his usual style with a fair few doubles and decided to re-cube to 8 for match in this position.

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17 point match

Black 9 White 11

Black cube action?

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His opponent made the correct decision and declined. After winning two more single games Slatts was ahead in the match 1511. In the next game Slatts was offered the 2-cube early in the game and takes. He was immediately rewarded with an 8 shot, which he hits; his opponent missed the blot in his home board and fails to come in. Slatts closes his board and wins the match 1711.

 

Ralph wins his first match in the Advanced division but the rest of us went to bed having come second!

 

One of the great things about this tournament was that breakfast was open to 11 a.m. (not that this made any difference to Slatts who still failed to make an appearance on tournament days!). There was a fantastic breakfast buffet with a chef on hand to make omelettes and pancakes to order. Dinner was also included in the price of the room and this was also buffet style with a very good selection of dishes to choose from. Desserts were extremely good!

 

After breakfast on the first day, Jules and I decided to venture out for a walk and take in some of the scenery. The hotel receptionist recommended that we walked out of the hotel down 240 steps to the woods below and then followed one of the walks on their pamphlet. This was of course written in Danish and as we soon discovered when we got lost, was not a great deal of use to us! Anyway off we set feeling very energetic. The energy seemed to slip away very quickly after the 240 steps and then the hilly bits! However, we encountered a small farm at the bottom of the woods and we found some lovely highland cattle grazing there. We eventually found our way back to the hotel after about an hour, and decided to shower and change before meeting up for a well-earned cup of coffee!

 

In his second match Slatts played Stovgaard (Denmark) and couldn't seem to do a thing right and was 615 to 17 down when he was faced with the 2-cube on a race that was 86 to 75. He took it and re-cubed to 4. Fortunately the dice gods were with him and he won the game.

 

Jules had had a tough first round draw against Thomas Holm (twice runner-up in Monte Carlo) and now played Howard Markowich (USA) (the organiser of the Las Vegas tournaments) in the first round of the Championship Consolation. The photo shows them playing with the score at 82 to Jules. It was a long hard fought match with Jules the victor, winning 118.

 

So did Slatts make a triumphant come back from 615 down? Unfortunately not, he got to 1215 and then his luck deserted him and he lost the match 1217.

 

In the meantime the Brits weren't having a lot of luck. Simonetta and Roland were unlucky enough to meet each other in the first round of the Amateur Main with Roland being the victor. Unfortunately, they both lost their Consolation matches on day 2 to qualify for the Last Chance. I had drawn Mark Banks in the Consolation first round and managed to win a match. I faced David Fall in the next round. He had already scared me by telling me that he had won his last match by taking an 8-cube and then throwing 6 doubles in a row to win the race! He did pretty well throwing doubles against me as well, but I didn't mind losing to a fellow Brit! Having won his first match, Ralph didn't have any luck either, and with Jules and Slatts both losing in the Consolation it was left to David to fly the flag for Britain. He did very well and got through to the semi-final of the Advance Consolation. He didn't do a deal on the money though, so when he lost the match he came away empty handed.

 

In the end Roland was the only one of us to win a trophy Runner-up in the Last Chance.

 

Slatts (black) had a go at the Super Jackpot and faced Lars Trabolt (Denmark). In this particular game he had an awkward 32 to play in this position.

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11 point match

Black 5   White 4

Black to play 32

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He made the Snowie play of 12/10, 12/9. He didn't win the game though as he got hit but he did manage to save the gammon. With the score at 810 Lars (white) rolls 65 in this position . . .

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11 point match

Black 8 White 10

Crawford game

White to play 65

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. . . and couldn't make up his mind what to do. He kept moving the pieces backwards and forwards and in the end played Snowie's 3 rd best move 8/2, 8/3. He ended up becoming a big under-dog with Slatts looking like he could even get a gammon to even the match. Alas, it was not to be. With 5 men off Slatts rolled a double 6 leaving a blot on his 6-point. Lars rolled double 4 to hit and ended up closing Slatts out and winning the match.

 

Unfortunately, my reporting skills went to pot on the last day and I didn't watch the final being played as I decided to join in with the poker, along with Ralph and David. Ralph played in a higher entry game and David and I watched him lose most of his chips when he got trip queens, only to find that he was betting against a player also with 3 queens but with a higher kicker. This didn't deter him going into another tournament where his luck turned. He had two notable good hands, one was 4 eights, and the one that I saw him win was amazing. He had Jack, 10 in his hand and the flop was 10, J, 10. He slowly played it, and was delighted when a 4th 10 came on the river. He went on to be one of the final two players and split the money, so covered some of his expenses.

 

Overall the Brits all agreed it had been a fun tournament and the venue was superb. Val and Christine had enjoyed it so much that they have decided to become BG Groupies and travel the world watching their husbands play! Rumour has it that they may even play in the Amateurs next time they go. The Gala Dinner on the Sunday night was superb. The food was delicious and the wine flowed. Simonetta and Roland showed their musical talent and performed several pieces for us (Simonetta on the Cello with Roland accompanying her on the piano) in between the food and the prize giving. They are a really talented couple and I am hoping Slatts will sign them up for the next Slattery Scottish Open. All of the tournament staff did a brilliant job and Lars Bonding made an excellent Tournament Director for both the Backgammon and the Poker. There will be another Scandinavian Challenge next year at the same venue and it is well worth a visit.

 

Ralph has described to me a new way of enjoying backgammon with friends. He has called it the Malvern Five. If I understood it correctly it goes like this! There are two backgammon boards set up and two games played simultaneously. The stakes are determined between the players at each board but there is always a table fee for each game the pot. The players play as individuals, not like in a chouette where team members can chip in. Each time a player wins he gets a token. The pot can only be won if a player wins 5 tokens / consecutive games. If the pot is not won the money is carried forward to the next time the players meet. All tokens won have to be given up. Ralph plays this with friends at his house in Malvern and it has proved to be very popular.

 

Another variation of the game is the Slatts Combo. For those of you not already familiar with this concept, it is where there are 2 players and they play each game with 2 cubes one for the match and one for money. Slatts played this with Morten Holm (Denmark) whilst we were at the tournament and it is interesting watching how the cubes are used. They were playing 7 point matches for £200 and £20 a point for the money game. On the first match Slatts was leading 5-0 but ended up losing the match and 3 points on the money cube. In the second match, Morten was leading 60, however, Slatts backgammoned him on the Crawford game and then gammoned him on a 2-cube to win the match plus 2 points on the money cube. The third and final match went to 6 all and according to Slatts Morten being a lucky face won the match and 2 points. Overall Slatts lost 1 match and 3 points so he was down £260 a bad day in the office!!

 

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The Pictures

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Julian and Slats play backgammon while going about their job as cloakroom attendants.
Slats delicately uses one finger to make his play.

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Rosey smiles to herself after seeing her opponent's dice.

Julian gets the better of Howard.

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Roland's opponent finds other distractions away from the board.

The Brits at the Gala Dinner. Clockwise from 9 o'clock:

Julian, Slats, Rosey, Ralph, Val, David, Christine, Roland, Simonetta.

Roland tries to impress Simoetta with his balancing skills.

Simonetta and Roland sing for their supper!

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