October 25th - November 2nd, 1996:
A squad of us took various routes to Rio, courtesy of the Air Bob program.
The same attack team that invaded Istanbul and Copenhagen earlier this year
attended: Odis Chenault, Phil Laak, Bob Ebbeler and myself -- and we finally
coerced heavy gunner Nack Ballard to join us.
Rio de Janeiro & Sao Paulo
We did okay as usual...
Rio de Janeiro
Here is the view out our hotel window looking out towards the ocean.
Odis and I finally made it out to the beach (the day before we left!).
And a bit to the left, looking up the street from the hotel towards
the shanties. I never ventured that ways, but UltraJag (Phil) would
head out there most mornings for a cheap breakfast...
THIS is a quintessential Rio view, taken out the window by the
elevator (!). The city is not just surrounded, but overshadowed by
The Tournament Scene
The tournament room. In the foreground it's Portuguese International
Mario Sequiera vs. 1984 World Champion Mike Svobodny.
Malcolm Davis of Dallas vs. Odis Chenault. "Hollywood O" won the
opening tournament in Rio; Malcolm, winner of the World Cup and the
America Cup this year, didn't have his usual success on this trip.
Nack Ballard vs. Odis Chenault in the Aberta Finals. San Francisco was
in there: I lost to Nack in the semis while Odis was beating Brazilian
Abel Lumer won the jackpot championship in Rio (this is the semis,
before the crowd formed).
And this is the scene after the finals got going! I think that the fellow
in the "Just Do It Dortmund" T-shirt is Dirk Schiemann (of Dortmund!),
the winner of the Rio Open (and incidentally a semi-finalist at the
World Championship in Monte Carlo last July).
[Apologies for no picture of him -- I don't have this journalist act
Svobo, Nack, X-22 (Paul Magriel). Three of the best players
from the U.S. [Nack seems to be unable to make up his mind where the best
This event, held two days after Rio, was the same format as the Aberta
tournament in Rio: one after another, eight sheets of 32 players are
formed. You can enter until you win a sheet. You're then in the money
and playing in a round of eight; the winner gets $30,000.
The great Gianni Bizarro, backgammon gladiator. I don't remember what
his shirt is advertising...
A tired and maybe slightly unhappy Vichai Kwarta of Thailand after the Sao
Paulo finals. Still, his fairytale result (Sao Paulo Finalist, $13,000,
beating Magriel in the semis as a climax before losing in the finals)
should keep him liking backgammon for a while!
As for me -- my last day in Rio I came down with bacterial pneumonia,
though I didn't know it at the time. I considered not even going to Sao
Paulo, but didn't really have any choice. The first day I quickly lost
on two sheets and went back to the hotel to hallucinate my way through a
sweating, shivering, coughing, sleepless night. The second day I lost
on the third sheet, but went through to the semis of the fifth. The
third day I beat Alex Russo (the best player of the checkers in Brazil)
to get into the money, then managed to beat Malcolm Davis. And the
fourth day I won against Mike Svobodny and Vichai Kwarta. I was barely
standing for the awards ceremony!