I had the chance to participate and be a part of the organization for the first Malta Open in backgammon history. This was a wonderful experience, and I met a lot of people that I am eager to see again on the circuit. The Malta Open was also the occasion to play the final rounds of the WBIF 2019 championship. Twenty-four players came from every part of the world and battled for 4 straight days to crown the king of the World Backgammon Internet Federation. Plenty of other events were also available for everybody. Let’s have a look at what the action was on the sunny island of Malta.
WBIF tour 2019
The WBIF tour 2019 was the first event to take place during the week of Backgammon in Malta. All the players involved in this event had to first qualify online on the WBIF website www.ebif.at. Twenty-four players survived the qualifications online and made the trip to Malta to play live. This was a triple-elimination tournament which means every player has 3 lives and has to lose 3 times to be out. With a field composed of so many good players, it was very difficult to see a favorite and 11 rounds had to be played to see Kristoffer Hotzeneder from Austria defeat Claus Elken from Denmark. Hotzeneder managed to reach the final round with 2 lives and won 11 matches in a row during the previous rounds. From the beginning, it was possible to follow the action live on YouTube on the Malta Backgammon channel :
Here is the final standing for the WBIF tour 2019 :
You didn’t need to qualify online to play the Malta Open. This was a single-elimination tournament with every match being 11 points. If you lose, you go directly to the consolation tournament. I was participating but unfortunately I lost my first match 11-9 against a very strong opponent : Gaz Owen. That was a close one but a bad pass of the cube at 9-9 got the best of me. In the consolation, I lost 7-6 in the second round against another backgammon prodigy : Zdenek Zizka. Once again it was close but no cigar!
Finally the Malta Open was won by Thomas Tenland.
The consolation tournament was won by Patrice Hattu who made a wonderful comeback after many years out of the circuit.
All the players really appreciated the quality of the boards that were at their disposal. The good news was that every board in the room was on sale, but if you prefer to fight for it you just had to register for the Artgammon cup. At first only one tournament was scheduled but the enthusiasm of the players pushed the organization to offer a second one. Thus, two lucky players went back home with an amazing board from Artgammon, the well-known manufacturer.
This was the first edition of the Malta Open and we can say without a doubt that it has been a success. The players really loved the location and enjoyed the serious and the friendly atmosphere of the tournament. Many are willing to return next year if a new edition is scheduled. If that’s the case and I really hope it will be, you will find me for sure on the lovely island of Malta. Until then, may the dice be with you and stay tuned for more articles about tournaments, strategy and more.