October 25th - November 2nd, 1996:
Rio de Janeiro & Sao Paulo

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.

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 spectacular mountains.

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 Ian MacFarlane.
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 together yet]
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 equity is]

Sao Paulo

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!