Forum Archive : Tournaments

Playing at Monte Carlo

From:   Achim
Date:   17 July 2007
Subject:   My Monte Carlo (long)
Forum:   GammOnLine

Some personal thoughts about the World Championship at Monte Carlo. It was
my first participation there since 1999, and to sum it up in two sentences:
Besides making the main tournament room 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 five 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
World Series of Poker, but the organizers might think about how to attract
more players in future.

Tournament and scheduling: A lot has already been said about the tournament
rules at r.g.b, stick's board or here. I missed having clocks. Using them
is a big MUST. 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 of a day.

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

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 on Tuesday at 2 pm, then up to six (!) matches on Thursday/Friday and
maybe one match on Saturday (I'm talking about the average players). If you
have really bad luck you'll wait three or more hours to play your
quarterfinal of the 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
the main, 1st or 2nd consolation. 11 pt or 9 pt matches in knockout format
are too short. I'd prefer a mix of Swiss tournament (maybe five 17 pt
matches) and a knockout system with progressive consolation after that, as
they have already successfully done 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. He plays
as though he is in his favourite home chouette, not 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 four of them into gnubg (2.8 error rate in a
17 pt match, 4.8 (11 pt), 4.6 (11 pt), 4.1 (9 pt)). My cube decisions were
ok. By using Kit Woolsey's rule, I only missed three doubles in all four
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, there was no sponsorship by
TMG. People had to fall back on blogs like Strato's, Foldager's or mine. I
also found only three published recorded matches besides my four matches.
One semifinal wasn't even recorded. Maybe a few more matches will follow
within the next days.

Tournament surroundings: The backgammon shop was missing books. I only saw
two books there. I bet they would sell a lot of books if there were a good
assortment of backgammon and poker literature (or gambling literature in

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 Euros, 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 Euros a
night or search for a cheaper hotel. Welcome party and gala dinner are
exactly the same every year, only the show differs. They still don't serve
any drinks during the show that finishes approximately one hour after the

A cup of coffee in the Fairmont at the stand in the tournament area is 5
Euros. It's lukewarm and served in a paper cup.

There is free internet access at the Fairmont, and I appreciated the main
tournament room being a nonsmoking 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
jackpot or a 1000 Euro jackpot is too much. At Nordic they take a certain
percentage depending on the entry fee. The high roller jackpots are only

Summary: Well, it's Monte Carlo and it's still the World Championship. 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 continue to decline as long as the registration fee for them
is the same (235 Euros in all three divisons) and as long as there is no
extra incentive, such as participating in a seminar held by a world class
player (e.g., at the Nordic Open).

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


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