Craic, Rattle & Roll - Irish Open
28/29 October 2000

Report by Michael Crane

I donít get to play much backgammon nowadays, my time is always taken up directing rather than playing, so it was with great enthusiasm that Sharen and I travelled to Dublin; me to play, her to shop. For what good it did me I should have gone shopping and she should have played! I failed to qualify for the finals on Sunday having only won two matches on the Saturday; I failed even more miserably in the Consolation when I went out in the first round Sunday morning. My only redemption was winning all three of my matches in the Team Event but even then we failed (by one miserable point) to make it into the final. Next year, Mr. Visa and I are going out on the town - Sharen can take my place at the board.

Whilst a tornado stormed itís way through Bognor Regis back at home, a zephyr gently wafted itís way through the dense undergrowth of opponentís as Sean Casey, the 1999 Irish Champion continued his astonishing Irish record to take a place in the final. If Iím not mistaken he had won 18 consecutive matches over the two tournaments and was looking for a 19th. But, standing in his way was the redoubtable, ex punk rocker, John Slattery. John had made it into the finals the hard way - a playoff on the Sunday morning at 9:00am (heís usually just gone to bed at this time of the day); a tough match against Jerry Limb; an even tougher one against Brendan Burgess; and then another toughie against Dave "The Cracker" McNamara. At last - The Final! Sean made it via winning all six on the Saturday and then beating John Wright (who also scored a perfect six) on the Sunday; and then dispatching Steve Pickard.

Such a contrast in styles: John - full of flair, panache, showmanship and a shake and roll that at times threatened to take an eye out as I sat close by and attempted to record the match. Sean: cool, deliberate, considered and very calm. It was like watching the tortoise and the hare . . . and, as one expects; the tortoise won! Sean Casey, nineteen wins in a row retained his title and was once again crowned Irish Champion. The match was a rout; John only managed to win one point (ironically prior to my arrival to record the match) as Sean stormed? to an eleven one victory. Many congratulations to Sean on a remarkable achievement and commiseration's to John. I only recorded 3 games but one of the major reasons John failed to get any points was his inability to roll re-entry numbers off the bar. In total, over the three games, John danced 29 times compared to Sean's twice!

Irish Open 2000 Main Winner

Irish Open 2000 Main Crow

Irish Open 2000 Consolation Winner

During the three matches I recorded the cube was used in the first two (the last being the Crawford) and in each instance the correct use was crucial. Look at this position below (Casey, White):
Sean ships across the cube. John is on the bar and facing a possible four closed points should Sean make his 5-point. According to JellyFish Level 7 Evaluation this is a double/drop. John takes and then proceeds to dance an Irish jig whilst Sean shuts him out and takes a gammon win. Good cube action by Sean there but a crucial mistake by John.
w/bg g/bg eqty
Sean  76.7 23.6 0.740
John  23.3  3.2
Vol: 0.203

11 Point Match, Casey 2 Slattery 1
White on roll,
Cube action?

In the next doubling choice the position was this:
Sean has just danced with a double six and John sees an opportunity here for a cube to two. In my opinion this was a little premature and JellyFish confirmed this; no double/take. Thereís a lot of play in this game still and once again Sean makes the correct decision.
w/bg g/bg eqty
Sean  39.7 10.0
John 60.3 16.3 0.272
Vol: 0.207

11 Point Match, Casey 6 Slattery 1
Black on roll, Cube action?

John's doubling decisions were very suspect this tournament. In his match against Brendan Burgess in the last 8, he had to decide on this re-cube (John Black): Brendan has just hit one of Johnís men during the bearoff and now sees a chance of a re-cube to 4. John thinks about it for some time and then takes. According to JellyFish this was a double/drop. However, no damage was done overall and John went on to win the match, but once again, an uncharacteristic poor cube decision from John.
w/bg g/bg eqty
Brendan   87.1 11.6  0.823
John 12.9 3.8
Vol: 0.138

11 Point Match, Burgess 0 Slattery 0
White on roll, Cube action?

Meanwhile, battle was waged in the Consolation (32). In the semi-finals Peter "Oz" Ozanne knocked out Monica Beckerson and Dane, Asger Kring knocked out Uldis Lapikens. In the final the Dane prevailed over the Celt and the magnificent crystal trophy winged itís way to Denmark. This was the second Danish victory this tournament; Jens Neregaard won the Friday night £100 knockout (16) tournament and took home a large wad of cash for doing so!

This years tournament was a great success (although the number of entrants was a little less than expected - where were the Fox?). As usual Brendan and his fellow Dublin Club members made us very comfortable and even arranged for the clocks to be put back one hour on the Sunday morning (2:00am) so that we could all have an extra hour in bed! How thoughtful. Cait Skelly did a wonderful job directing whilst allowing Brendan the luxury of playing; and Paul OíKelly has to be congratulated on a frenetic auction on the Saturday and a witty prize-giving speech on the Sunday.

Irish Open 2000 Team Winners

In the Team event (16), in which my team missed the final by one miserly win, you might remember; Paul Turnbull led Dave Coyne and Stuart Mann to victory over Simon K Jonesís team of Dave Motley and Gary Sweeney. I bet weíd have beaten them!

It is hoped the tournament will take place at the same date and venue next year. As soon as this is confirmed then I urge you all to book your flight or ferry immediately and get over there. Your partner can go shopping (with me) and you can play backgammon. What more do you want?

Finally, look at the picture right:

I can't beleive this happened. I was playing John Broomfield (white) in the first round of the Main when I played a double two and ended up in this position! In fact I moved the first two from my 4- to the 2-point and then three men from the the 7- to 5-point. I picked up my dice and John stared at me. "What?", I said, "It was a double two. What's wrong?" Only then did I see what I'd done! Stupid or what?

Irish Open Results, 28/29 October 2000
Main (61) grand prix
1 Sean Casey  9
2 John Slattery  8
3/4 Steve Pickard  5
3/4 Dave McNamara  3
5/8 Liz Perry  2
5/8 Brendan Burgess  2
5/8 Paul Waters  1
5/8  John Wright  1

Tean Event (16): 1 Paul Turnbull, Dave Coyne, Stuart Mann
2 Simon K Jones, Dave Motley, Gary Sweeney
Friday KO (16): 1 Jens Neregaard

Consolation (32) grand prix
1 Asger Kring
2 Peter Ozanne  5
3/4 Uldis Lapikens  2
3/4 Monica Beckerson  2
5/8 Aubrey Taplay
5/8 Peter Chan  1
5/8 Christain Schnaba l
5/8 Don Irving