Every year a ship load of brits make the journey over to Monte for the World Championships. A bunch of them stop at the Miramar, just outside Monte and it's from there that Myke Wignall and Tim Mooring base their reports.

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The Eden Plaj 2005 Backgammon Tournament
By Myke Wignall

For those who don't know, Eden Plaj is a beach hidden in the Garden of Eden at the bottom of a hill in Cap D'Ail (Monte Carlo). It's a real chill-out place with shaded flower-covered terraces, cool tunes and fabulous views over a blue sea. And once a year, it's also host to a flock of backgammon players. So Paul (Gilbertson) and I got to know Maurice and the lovely girls who work at Eden and decided to start a little backgammon tournament. Backgammon, beach, great food, drink, girls and girls and more girls - what more could we ask for?

This being the second year of the tournament, we had some beautiful agate trophies made and were lucky to have added prizes donated by two of the most enthusiastic supporters of backgammon, John Slattery and Michael Crane. John donated a Hatrick Board for the winner (a great prize, and if you check out Hatrick Boards, you'll see they come in as many colours as John's suits!). Michael generously donated a Hotel Weekend with tournament entry and, for the runner-up, lifetime membership of BIBA. All in all then, plenty of reasons to win.

So, to the tourny. Paul and I decided to play to make up the numbers, but this was a field of quality players and Paul was drawn against Lawence Powell. Paul went 2-0 up and, in the next game, did something very unusual (for him) and rolled double 5s. At this point, he keeled over, literally. I thought it might be the shock of Paul realizing he's actually pretty good at this game and that he can also roll doubles. But no, it seemed my co-organizer was having some sort of Mediterranean Heart Attack!

Within minutes, two Baywatch guys had turned up, then seven paramedics and finally, three doctors (I'm sure there's a song in there somewhere). They decided to take him to the old fogeys' clinic in Monte Carlo, which meant carrying Paul and all the gear up the hill. So I left Julie with the dosh and the trophies and went up the hill with Paul, Doris and the medical team.

My trek up the hill in the wake of Paul and his entourage was a test of my stamina, I can tell you. It's a hard enough climb at the best of times but I was laden down by a clutch of oxygen cylinders! They might have been for Paul's use but I can tell you I was tempted to take a drag myself!

Those of you that know this climb from the beach might also know that it almost claimed Ernie Pick last year when he collapsed on his way up it. As luck would have it Paul and I were on hand to assist - me giving mouth-to-mouth (well, very nearly!) and Paul asking Ernie for his pin number!

Before getting back to the more important news of the tournament, you might want to know how things went with Paul. The hospital was fantastic and after many tests they revealed that Paul had a heart and it was very healthy.

Meanwhile the final of the tournament was between Peter Bennett and Tim Mooring. Tim beat Dods to get to the final, a great result for his first trip to Monte. Ultimately though, the deserving champion of the 2005 Eden Plaj Tourny was Peter.

Of course, this report is about backgammon, but it's also about the friends we meet through the game. Paul wanted everyone to know that he's still alive and kicking. He wanted to thank all the people in Monte - the docs, paramedics, Baywatch, barmaids, oh, and the nurse who shaved him! But most of all he wanted to thank the backgammon crowd for their concern - who knows, maybe next year we'll get the Cardio Hospital to sponsor a prize!

Finally then, a big thanks to all those who made the pilgrimage, with a special mention to David Naylor (great to see you back in Monte, David).

Until next year... Myke

Photos by Joolie Mooring

Peter Bennet

Tim, with Jo Curl on his right

Jo and Rachel


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Impressions of a World Championship Virgin

By Tim Mooring

For years I have said that I would play at the Backgammon World Championships at least once before I die, and since I was to celebrate my 50th this year I decided I had better not leave it too much longer. So, fifty years old and still a World Championship virgin, I arrived at the Fairmont wondering whether my first time would be a painful experience or a pleasurable one. By the end of the week and my virginity lost I was sure I would be returning to play another year.

Shortly after my return home I was telling Michael Crane about my impressions of the tournament. He thought it would be a good idea for me to submit an article for the Bibafax based on the impressions of a World Championship virgin. Not having a great deal of literary imagination I wasn’t so sure. A couple of weeks later I was certain it was a bad idea.

I struggled to put my impressions of Monte into words that when I read them back sounded even slightly interesting to someone considering the trip for the first time. In fact I think I would have put some off……..”Better not go in case I get stuck with that Tim Mooring”.
I thought I would try a different tack. I’d interview myself.

Q. What did you think of Monte Carlo?
A. Great.

Q. What did you think of the Tournament?
A. Great.

Q. What did you think of the organisation?
A. Not that great.

Q. Did you play well?
A. No.

Q. Where did you stay?
A. Cap D’Ail.

Q. What did you think of Cap D’Ail as a base?
A. Errr………………….great.

So, I now know I’m not very good at asking open questions either. By this time Michael is e-mailing me every day asking if I had finished it yet, and I’m wishing I had never gone in the first place.

However, I did go. So I had another go at asking myself open questions.

Q. What was your impression of Monte Carlo?
A. Monte Carlo is a wonderful place (if you don’t already know), but despite arriving two days before registration I didn’t really see enough of it. I’ll have to go back some time as a tourist rather than to play backgammon. Even so, walking through the park and Casino Square on the way to the tournament each day adds to the sense of occasion. My advice for virgins is put some time aside in the mornings for sight seeing stuff rather than sleeping off hangovers. It wasn’t me that had the hangover, it was them others.
 
Q. What about the Fairmont and the tournament facilities?

A. Great (I need to say more than that)…. can't fault the hotel or tournament hall at all. The boards are a bit dodgy though. When you first enter the playing hall it looks errrrr…….great. Hundreds of boards laid out, all in the same colour scheme. But they are a felt playing surface on a flimsy, plastic base. I couldn’t help wondering how many boards Slats was going to trash during the week. Have you noticed how heavy handed he is.

What did impress me was the CCTV big screen coverage of the top matches. I not sure that had much to do with the tournament organizers.

Q. What did you think of the organization?
A. Not impressed. Registration was an impersonal affair. I was greeted with "Fill that in and pay over there". I did get a very nice money clip as a gift, not that they left me with much money to put in it. The running of the event seemed to be limited to doing the draw prior to the start of play each day. There was little encouragement for players to start on time. I noticed that one player picked up a single penalty point for being 40 minutes late! You wouldn’t get away with that at a Biba tournament. If you mentioned the absence of your opponent to the organizers you would be told to return to your seat and wait, which I had to do for 20 minutes on one occasion. I didn't receive a penalty point but did win that match which pleased me greatly as my opponent wasn't very friendly. The most significant failing on the part of the directors that I was aware of occurred during a match in the Championship flight. There was much shouting between two players and a crowd quickly gathered round. Despite this continuing for some time there was no intervention from the directors that I noticed.
 
Q. Did you find the cost prohibitive?
A. Since our son James left University Julie and I have had no idea what to spend our surplus money on, well that’s not entirely true, Julie comes up with ideas regularly. Even so, the intermediate flight cost me 620 euros and the reality was that I had a good chance of going out in the first round! But you shouldn't even think about it. I did think about it and ended up in the intermediate flight rather than the Championship, and still crashed out in the first round. You do get a lot for your money, five competitions during the week, Cocktail receptions and Gala Dinner not to mention the golf and tennis competitions if you are that way inclined….not that I’m suggesting there is anything wrong with people who play golf and tennis. But it’s not what you get, it’s the atmosphere, the anticipation of doing well at the World Championship and other intangible things. By the end of the week my impression was that it was well worth every euro. No regrets......except that maybe I should have gone for the Championship flight. It is the World Championship after all.

Q. What was your most enjoyable backgammon moment?
A. That would be during my Consolation match against Natalie Guez. I was leading 2 away 7 away and despite knowing I shouldn’t offer the cube yet, I did. I hate Crawford games. Not unexpectedly she expressed her surprise at such a stupid cube. I told her about my dislike of playing out Crawford games and sat back while she considered it at length. I resisted asking her why, if it was a stupid cube, did she take so long. It wouldn’t have been nearly so enjoyable if she had snatched it off me. I won the game.

Q. And your worst backgammon moment?
A. Without doubt in the team event. I teamed up with Rosey and her brother John. We had a bye in first round and saw off two very strong teams in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. In the 4th we came up against some fellow Brits. The match stood at 1- 1 and was dependant on my match against Tony Walters which was DMP. I was trailing as we started to bear off but I rolled well. Finally Tony needed double 5 or 6 to save it. That was when I experienced my worst moment. We were going all the way…………and then we weren’t.

Q. Finally, did you have good accommodation?
A. We stopped in a small hotel down the road at Cap D’Ail. I not saying which one in case I can’t get in next time I go. It was brilliant. Many thanks to Myke Wignall for organizing our room.

I wouldn’t want to advise a first timer where to stay, but I love Cap D’Ail and will stay there again. It has a few good restaurants, a wonderful beach (if you’re OK with steps) and only a short ride into Monaco.

My overall impression is that having surrendered my virginity I would like to go back for more. Isn’t that always the way?

Tim

Congratulation to Dennis Carlston (USA), World Champion 2005, who won over John O'Hagan in an exciting final match! The most successful player from the winners of the qualifiers on TrueMoneygames was Stephen Nelson, who got the second place in the second consolation. Congratulations to all!
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For more information go to:

www.truemoneygames.com/news-promos/special-events-dn.dhtml

Michael

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