The 2007 Cotswold Fireside Tournament from a Bristol perspective

Ian Tarr, Bristol Backgammon Director

Nearly a quarter of the contestants at the weekend's outstanding Cotswold Fireside Tournament had Bristol connections, and as usual there are success stories to tell.
There were 13 Bristol players and associates among the 47 in the £150 entry Championship Category, 7 among the 30 in the Intermediate Category, and one (young Harry Hemming) among the nine in the Beginner Category.
In the Championship Main Flight, all but two of the Bristol contingent had been eliminated before the quarter-finals, and they -- Stuart Mann and Ann Pocknell -- had to meet for a place in the last four.
Stuart won that encounter in straight sets (the main flights of this event feature a best of three 7-point match format), and repeated that straight sets scoreline in getting past Paul Christmas to earn a final place for the second successive year.
Last year Stuart took the title at his first attempt, so when he started the final his career Cotswold Main Flight record read "Played 9, Won 9"!
This one, though, against the highly rated Raj Jansari, went into a final set, and Stuart was defeated at last.
Meanwhile Ann was going well in the Progressive Consolation Flight, where wins over Mardi Ohanessian and Chris Ternel earned her a final berth against former European Champion Barry McAdam. Ann, too, had to settle for second place.
In the Intermediate event, there were strong performances from some of the up-and-coming stars of Bristol Backgammon.
Gaz Owen and Cecilia Sparke both reached the quarter-finals, but -- just like Stuart and Ann -- fate conspired to pair them in the same quarter of the draw, where Gaz progressed to the semis.
Cecilia's weekend also featured final table appearances in all three poker evenings!
Gaz then defeated Gill Bray, before losing the final to Richard Biddle.
Nick Barham had been eliminated by Gaz at the second round stage, so he arrived in the Progressive Consolation needing to win four times to reach the final of that flight.
This he achieved to earn a crack at the experienced Tony Fawcett in the final, where Nick triumphed to become our only flight winner of the weekend.
Sunday's Last Chance was tailored to fit all Categories, in that a handicapping system, no doubt inspired by that of our own Handicap Trophy, compensated those from the lower flights when pitted against Championship players.
With rebuys allowed until the 64-player grid was filled, the optional £25 pool closed at £950 -- maybe some kind of record for a last chance flight(?) -- and once again Bristol's two quarter-finalists were forced to meet at that stage.
After defeating Tim Line, Paul Gilbertson then lost out to Mike Heard in the semis, before Independent backgammon columnist Chris Bray took that title.
The new venue, the Bear of Rodborough Hotel, was a fitting one for an event, now in its fifth incarnation, which reflected great credit on its supremo, Martin Hemming, its excellent Tournament Director, Mike Main, and its main sponsor, Gammonitis.
With jackpots galore, excellent food, and plenty of late night drinking, the event was a social success as much as a backgammon one, and some players even managed to find time for Bristol league action!
John Slattery was looking for opportunities to get some Premier One matches in before his next business trip to Thailand, but was only able to fit one in at Stroud.
This, though, was his first league reverse of 2007, suffered at the hands of Ian Tarr.
In Premier Two, Miles Farren was hoping to move to the top of the table, but defeats meted out by Tim Line and Gaz Owen meant that ambition will have to be shelved for the moment.
And Dave Pym, whose belated "national" tournament debut had featured the memorable scalp of top Irish player Sean Casey, scored his first league win of the season against Tim.

Cotswold Fireside 2007 summarised results
Cotswold Fireside 2006 results
Cotswold Fireside 2005 results
Cotswold Fireside 2004 results
Cotswold Fireside 2003 results
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