It was my third consecutive Georgian tournament. I was wondering what surprise this year was going to bring. I met Tobias Hellwag at the airport. I thought there may be more good players like him. And it turned out to be correct. Although I was going there two days before the main tournament started, it was already packed. With 92 players from 13 countries including four World champions made the tournament one of the biggest in the neighborhood. Players from Georgia and nearby countries were proud to play in such a strong group.
The weather was surprisingly good considering the tournament was held in September, one month later than as usual. Two years ago, during my first attendance to the tournament, it was raining all the time. This year, although a month late, it only rained half the time. The sea was still swimmable and the sun was nice and warm. The hotel had continued to improve. Actually everything in Georgia is improving all the time. It is a very fast changing and growing country. Two years ago some parts of the hotel was looking almost thirty years old. Last year they finished the critical parts of the renovation. And this year, they almost finished most detailed work and the hotel was looking very modern. People were also subject to change. Two years ago driving habits were very startling. With the change of culture and help of new roads, I think, driving quality is also improving. The country offers delicious food and wine. Batumi is like a Monte Carlo of Black Sea if you like casinos. The scene of the city is changing with modern high buildings. As they sometimes call it the Cuba of the neighborhood, Georgia is worth visiting with its great authenticity and natural tones.
When it comes to backgammon, the quality of competition was higher than most tournaments. Marco Fornasir joyfully directed the tournament second time in a row. He adjusted to Georgia’s authentic culture very well to find a middle course in situations where inflexibility could have led to undesired results. There were very strong local and nearby players. With a very strong international presence, the quality went up.
In Masters, Najib Salamzy (Afghanistan) won the title against Avetis Rostomyan (Armenia). Four of the players among six prize winner were from nearby countries. This shows there is a great backgammon potential in that region. Doubles Consulting was won by Ricardo Malas (Lebanon/Spain) & Abdullah Sorgüven (Turkey) against Sergey Chertkov (Russia) & Alexander Krasov (Ukraine). Ricardo Malas also got a very special award as the most valuable player. A former world champion David Ben-Zion (Israel) beat another champion Masayuki Mochizuki (Japan) in the Super Jackpot final.
A tradition of Georgia against the World competition was repeated this year. Since the tournaments was crowded, teams were made of nine players each. The format was simply five point matches. This year the World team led by Captain Masayuki Mochizuki (Japan) dominated 6-3 against the Georgian team led by Captain Simon Pankvelashvili. I hope this tradition results in something similar to the format of Denmark against the World competition. Mochy gave an interesting lecture about the intricacies of leaving the anchor.
I would like to thank Arda Fındıkoğlu and Ricardo Malas for providing some of the photos. And finally, here are the complete results of 7th Georgian Backgammon Championship / Gogi Bukia Memorial:7TH GEORGIAN BACKGAMMON CHAMPIONSHIP – WBF / GOGI BUKIA MEMORIAL September 4-8, 2013; Chakvi, Georgia MASTERS (54): 1-Najib Salamzy (Afghanistan), 2-Avetis Rostomyan (Armenia), 3/4-Vazgen Matevosyan (Armenia) / Michihito Kageyama (Japan); 1LC-Leonid Riskin (Ukraine), 2LC-Aleksei Askurava (Russia). INTERMEDIATE (36): 1-Gocha Chokhonelidze (Georgia), 2-Andrey Nesterov (Ukraine), 3/4-Martin Sagradian (Ukraine) / Andranik Harutyunyan (Armenia); 1LC-Abraham Azshakyan (Armenia), 2-Eduard Nazaryan (Georgia). SUPER JACKPOT (8): 1-David Ben-Zion (Israel), 2-Masayuki Mochizuki (Japan). 869BG (27+13): 1-Tamaz Nanitashvili (Georgia), 2-Christian Liebe-Harkort (Germany). WARM-UP (53+18): 1-Jakob Garal (Ukraine/Germany), 2-Avetis Rostomyan (Armenia). ONE-POINT PRESIDENT’S TOURNAMENT: 1-Sabri Büyüksoy (Turkey), 2-Arda Findikoglu (Turkey). DOUBLES CONSULTING (18 teams): 1-Ricardo Malas (Lebanon/Spain) & Abdullah Sorgüven (Turkey), 2-Sergey Chertkov (Russia) & Alexander Krasov (Ukraine), 3/4-Sergey Grinev (Russia) & Khvicha Kurtanidze (Georgia) / Artur Muradyan (Armenia) & Gor Nikoghosyan (Armenia). GEORGIAN NARDI TEAM VS THE WORLD CHALLENGE: The World Team won 6-3. 1-Rest of the World Team: Captain Masayuki Mochizuki (Japan), David Ben-Zion (Israel), John Broomfield (England), Sabri Büyüksoy (Turkey), Sergey Erokhin (Russia), Jakob Garal (Ukraine), Tobias Hellwag (German), Michihito Kageyama (Japan), Artur Muradyan (Armenia); 2-Georgian Nardi Team: Captain Simon Pankhvelashvili, Jemal Chachua, Boris Danelja, Nodar Gagua, Vladimir Iashvili, Oleg Kopyev, Teimoraz Kurtsikidze, Kakhaber Natchkebia, David Tevdoraze.