On Saturday 8th of April, the bunnies congregated at the Royal British Legion Club in Cornmeadow Lane, Worcester. The new home of Worcester Backgammon Club has now hosted several tournaments and for this we are grateful. The Turkey, Intermediate, Turkey Earthquake Appeal and now the Bunny Bash (NB. Bash in no way suggests cruelty to rabbits, but refers to a party!) Apologies for the ‘woke’ statement!
It is crucial to the life of backgammon to have venues to meet in that are relatively inexpensive. It is important never to take them for granted. Simply supporting what the venue does to keep it going is not asking a lot. Purchasing drink or food is necessary to the life blood of the backgammon community, to enable us to run relatively inexpensive tournaments and allow us to continue to grow the beautiful game.
The Director of Technical Affairs, David Sanders, prepares the desk. Having already done the spreadsheets and google sheets, he has tested them to ensure they work. Testing is done a few times with different scenarios depending on the number of players and the whimsical decision making of the Tournament Director, Sean Jones. It is known that in the run up to a tournament David does turn his ringtone to silent! So, logic and creativity work hand in hand to produce the groundwork for a successful tournament.
The players arrive, the anticipation is palpable. The Directors mandatory speech is due. Registrations and side pools sorted; Sean Jones gets up. The room goes silent (as if!) and a pin can be heard drop (you are making this up!) One player came up for a special mention. Having recently turned a milestone and still challenging people around the country in his play. A man with quite a unique story. An engineer, author of several Haynes manuals, helped to build some nuclear stations, travelled around the world working on ships and, by his own admission a gigolo! Mervyn Bleach reached eighty and is well known for helping wherever he is and popular with all tournament directors for his practical assistance. The spiel continues… Dice… side of cup… Clocks… sportsmanship… timings… fire… eggs… and after some time it ends. The games begin.
The Bunny Lady
Behind every great tournament director is (or at least should be) a Bunny lady. Would be incredibly missed if not present-imagine; no coffee, milk, sugar, biscuits, eggs and many other little details that can be missed if someone doesn’t get it done. The Bunny Lady had her ears on full display and being detachable they ended up on the heads of some other people.
The blessed forty-eight begin the four rounds of backgammon. The aim is three wins or three losses depending on your target. Fastest way to consolation is three losses! To accentuate the positive, qualification to the consolation in the least painless way could be considered a win. However, for those serious players the route is three wins, no losses to get to the top six and automatic qualification to the last 16.
The most notable round was round three, the culling of the couples. By chance a couple of couples ended up playing each other. Cheryl Oliver played her husband Robin and he managed to get the better of Cheryl. As it happens Robin continued to succeed and made it all the way to the semi-final only to be knocked out by Jamie MacPherson, the eventual Bunny Champion. Mike Wood fared the same fate as Cheryl and was beaten by his partner Anne. Would not want to be in the car on the way home!!!
In tournaments there is often a period where you are hanging around a bit waiting for your next match. This can never be eliminated, but Sean had a plan to keep the top six who only need to play three matches and the bottom six who only needed to lose three matches to either be in the last sixteen or qualify for the consolation tournament. He created a mini tournament for these twelve players as they did not need to play the fourth round of the Swiss.
CJ went on to join Jamie MacPherson in the final. Jamie won the match and the crown of Bunny of the Year 2023.
The Challenge of pip counting two fat ladies
Towards the end of the tournament, the last few matches of the main and consolation were moved to a smaller room so another function could take place in the larger room. To make the challenge of playing backgammon at a high level, a session of bingo was happening at the same time as the last few matches of the game. This would distract the weaker minded!
Concurrently with the last 16 the Consolation tournament was underway. This ended in a battle between Rachel Rhodes and John Georgiou. John used his Jedi mind tricks and won.