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Favorable Review of Lynn Ehlich's Great Tournament in NJ

Posted By: Paul Weaver
Date: Monday, 10 January 2011, at 11:51 p.m.

Lynn Ehrlich, of Manhattan, is the most elegantly dressed individual on the USA backgammon scene. She is also friendly, polite and efficient in organizing and running her marvelous tournament in one of the most beautiful venues on the ABT tour. The hotel is just across the Hudson River from New York City, and the rooms all have beautiful views of the skyline of our greatest metropolis. Some people can see the Statue of Liberty out the window while lying in bed.

Lynn was assisted by co-director Troy Longman, Julia Sommer, Ina Donath, Jenna Longman and Troy, Jr. It is virtually impossible to run a backgammon tournament involving several dozen people over a four-day period without annoying a few people, but as far as I know, Lynn and her staff managed to pull it off. They did a fantastic incredible job and everyone had a great time.

Troy told me that the most difficult part of preparing for the tournament is renegotiating with the hotel every year to get the best possible deal for the tournament and the guests. He also told me the most difficult part of running the show is making sure that slow players do not delay the schedule. With fifteen years of experience in working at tournaments from Vegas to Monte Carlo, Troy is very competent. He explained his philosophy that time management is the responsibility of the staff and not the players.

The clock policy was"Clocks Preferred." Most matches were played with clocks. To my knowledge, there were no long matches that delayed the schedule and no one lost on time.

Here are some of the things about the tournament I liked:

1. Beautiful hotel. 2. Competent, friendly, efficient staff. 3. Many strong players. 4. Plenty of events being run to keep all players occupied. 5. With three days to complete the main event, the tournament had a very relaxed atmosphere. 6. No one was asked to play too late at night or too early in the morning.

Apologizing to those whose names I may have left out, I am listing the Giants of Backgammon in attendance: Carol Cole, Bob Koca, Rich Munitz, Ed O'Laughlin, Bill Robertie, Mike Senk and Kit Woolsey. There were also many other strong and competent players participating.

Bill Robertie won the tournament, beating Britain's Rachel Rhodes in the finals. Bill also won the doubles event, beating Ed O'Laughlin and his academically successful university son in the finals. Mike Senk won the consolation and Kit Woolsey won the Masters.

Presumably, Bill, Kit and Senk were happy with the way the tournament was run. I got comments from four other giants.

Ed O'Laughlin,"I thought they did a great job. I'll return next year if I have enough money."

Dr. Bob Koca, "Very well run."

Rich Munitz, "I thought the tournament was run very smoothly. Glad to see such a large crowd."

Carol Cole, "Great tournament with a record crowd! Beautiful hotel - I'll be back next year!"Carol is a newcomer to the Giants' List, making her debut at #44. Although most players on the list strongly feel they are underrated by ten or more places, it was refreshing to hear Carolfs humble and modest attitude that she feels she does not belong on the list. I asked her if she had been rolling double 4s more frequently since being voted #44 on the list. She said "no," but double 4s is her favorite number.

A couple of intermediate players, Thomas Rebelo of Montreal and Kevin Walsh of NJ asked me what I would do if my opponent in the finals of a tournament made an illegal play that was to his disadvantage. I explained to them that opinion is evolving on this issue. Thirty years ago, everyone agreed that it was perfectly acceptable to condone an opponentfs illegal play. In recent years, however, the opinion of the top players is definitely shifting. I am beginning to agree that adopting the Legal Moves Rule makes backgammon a more civilized game.

Who is Rachel Rhodes? This lovely British lady has played in the USA before. On her last trip to Vegas, she beat Stick 15-0 and then beat John O'Hagan a round or two later. I met her a month ago in England and sold her a copy of our book. Beyond any doubt, Rachelfs reading and studying our book was instrumental in helping her reach the finals of the tournament.

Joe Freedman has been my friend for twenty years. He is kind and polite enough to frequently remind me that he won seventeen consecutive matches against me seventeen years ago. I had an interesting encounter with Joe Sunday.

After I was knocked out of last chance, I played a fifteen-game heads-up session with Michael Pustilnik, a very strong player from Brooklyn whom I had never met before. I enjoyed our encounter because we were both playing very quickly. Joe Freedman saw us playing and asked if we wanted to make it a chouette. I was in no mood to carefully consider and extensively discuss the merits of every single legal play. I love Joe, but I knew if he joined us the pace and flow of the game would slow down by a time factor of five or six, so I told him I wanted to continue playing heads-up.

Joe then did something I had never seen before. Joe told Michael that it was would be to Michael's advantage to quit playing me and start playing Joe heads-up because Joe is a much worse player than I am. Unable to refute Joe's logic, Michael quit me on the spot and started playing Joe heads-up. This was fine with me for two reasons. I was ready to go watch football and I made a side bet, backing Michael against Joe. I felt Michaelfs edge against Joe was greater than my edge against Michael.

I went up to my room to watch football. Rich Munitz dropped by and I taught him how to play the opening roll. To be fair to Rich, he already knew how to play 31 42 53 61 65 and he also knew how to play some of the other rolls at some scores. Meanwhile, Joe lost to Michael, who came up to my room to deliver the money I had won. It was a win-win-win-win situation for Michael, Joe, Rich and me. Michael and I made money, Joe got to play in the game he wanted and Rich learned how to play the opening roll.

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