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My Monte Carlo (long)

Posted By: Achim
Date: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, at 11:27 a.m.

Some personal thoughts about the WC at Monte Carlo. It was my first participation since 1999, and to sum it up in two sentences: Besides making the main tournament room to a non smoking area nothing has changed. Even the Boyds look like they did 9 years ago ;-).

Missing players number of participiants: I missed Ballard, Magriel, Robertie, Wachtel, Weaver, Woolsey (all USA), Hallberg, Bonding, Kjeldsen, Andersen, Nielsen, Hensen (all Denmark), Royset (Norway) and of course neilkaz ... so at least 5 strong former world champions who still play (afaik) didn't show up.

  • Main 218
  • Intermediate 76
  • Beginners 48
  • These numbers were taken from Strato's ladders. So we had 342 players all in all. Disappointing. In 1993 there were more than 600 players, in 1998/99 between 500 and 600 (afair). I know that this tournament overlaps with the WSOP, but the organizers might think about how to attract more players in future.

    Tournament and scheduling: Well, there is already said a lot about the tournament rules at r.g.b, gammonu or here. I also missed clocks, using them is a big MUST (or NEXT, as Neil always says ;-) ). I was lucky enough not being faced with a slow player. They should also use at least progressive consolation and fixed times for each round, not only for the first round a day.

    There is no public draw! I don't suspect someone and I also have no conspiracy theory, but to avoid all this they should make public draws. Always!

    Regarding the scheduling I'm somehow biased. As it is now it's fine if you take your darling with you and want to show her/him Monte Carlo or make a one day trip to Nice, Cannes or Saint-Paul de Vence (as I did). For a professional tournament player it's bad. If you have bad luck you play one match at tuesday at 2 pm, then up to 6(!) matches at thursday/friday and maybe one match at Saturday (I talk about the average players now). If you have really bad luck you'll wait three or more hours for playing your quarterfinal of 2nd consolation at 2:30 am (it happened to a player this year). The Super jackpot isn't scheduled at all!

    The tournament is also not qualified for getting the strongest players in main, 1st or 2nd consolation. 11p or 9p matches in knockout format are too short. I'd prefer a mix of suisse tournament (maybe 5 17p matches) and knockout system with progressive consolation after that, as they alreay sucessfully tried in Denmark.

    The winner, my own play: Pan is not the strongest player, but he's also not weak. I watched his quarter final against Carsten Sorensen (DK) and parts of the final. He plays quickly, but also during tough decisions. As I wrote somewhere else: He plays like being in his favourite home chouette, not being in the (quarter) final of the biggest tournament of the year. He looked and behaved like a typical money player.

    With my own matches I was partly satisfied. My girlfriend recorded five matches (she doesn't play backgammon, but she liked recording and did it pretty well!). I already put 4 of them into gnubg (2.8 in a 17p, 4.8(11p), 4.6(11p), 4.1(9p)). My cube decisions were ok, after consequently using Kit Woolseys rule I only missed three doubles in all 4 matches. Still, I have to improve my motivation after losing in the main event. Of course I like winning money, but I'm too fixated on fame and title ;-) and not biting hard enough in the consolations.

    Live coverage and recorded matches: It's really a shame that there was absolutely no live coverage for at least the semifinals and the final by one of the bg servers. Nowadays nearly every non-regional chess tournament is presented live or with a small delay. Also, in opposite of what I was assuming at monday last week (see http://www.acepoint.de/index.php?id=121) there was no sponsorship by TMG.

    People had to fall back on blogs like Strato's, Foldager's or mine. I also found only 3 published recorded matches besides my 4 matches (that were bravely recorded by my girlfriend). One semifinal wasn't even recorded. Well, maybe a few matches will follow within the next days.

    Tournament surroundings:The backgammon shop is missing books, I've only seen two books over there. Well, I don't have to make money with the shop, it's up to the "de Bruins", but I bet they would sell a lot of books if there were a good assortment of backgammon and poker literature (or gambling literature in general).

    The boards at the tournament are cheap but fine and nice to play on. You can and should buy registered dice at de Bruins for 35,- Euro, you can give them back later and get your money back (I kept mine).

    Fairmont and surroundings: Not a lot to say about the room prices, it's Monte Carlo. Stay there if you can and are willing to afford 300,- Euro a night or search for a cheaper hotel. Welcome party and gala dinner are exactly the same as every year, only the show differs. They still don't serve any drinks during the show that finishes appr. one hour after the dinner ... well, they do, but you have to pay 35,- Euro for a beer then ;-).

    A cup of coffee in the Fairmont at the stand in the tournament area is 5 (five) Euro, it's lukewarm and served in a papercup. This is nothing but fooling people in my mind.

    There is free internet access at the Fairmont (fine!), and I also appreciated the main tournament room being a non smoking area (though I'm a smoker!).

    I didn't play any jackpots this year, this was a decision on principle. I think deducting 12% on each jackpot, no matter whether you play a 10,- Euro jp or a 1000,- Euro jp is too much fee. At Nordic they take certain percentages depending on the entry fee, the high roller jackpots are only 4%!

    Summary: Well, it's Monte Carlo and it's still the Worldchampionship. If there once will be a winner again with good reputation and a low error rate he/she will get all the respect by the bg community. The equity for strong players isn't that bad, there are still a lot of really weak players in the championship flight.

    The tournament organization won't wake up and change anything as long as they make money of it. The number of participants in intermediate and beginners will get down more and more, as long as the registration fee for them is the same as it is now (235,- Euro in all three divisons) and as long as there is no extra equity for them like participating in a seminar held by a world class player (i.e. at Nordic Open). So maybe Baille and his fellows once need something like 200 participant all in as food for thought.

    Anyway, Monte Carlo is still a nice place to visit (combining backgammon with hard days at the beach ;-) ), and I'll probably show up next year again.

    Ciao

    Achim

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