Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oslo Othello

Wow, the World Othello Championship has been going for 32 years now, and this is the first time they've held it in a city that also starts and ends with an O! And they haven't even designed a logo that highlights the fact! I don't know, you'd think Oslo would be desperate to do something cool with its name - ever since Czechoslovakia split up and people can't ask the 'what country has another nation's capital inside it' riddle, Oslo must have lost no end of linguistic-curiosity tourists...

Anyway, the WOC is indeed happening, today, tomorrow and Saturday, and unfortunately I've got to work, so I can't sit around all day keeping up with the events of the day on the amazingly great website! Latest standings! Transcripts! Webcam! Live games! Chat with other spectators while watching live games! I'm seriously impressed here.

Also impressive is British champion David Hand! He's in second place after the first day, on six wins out of seven. I'd say he'd got a good chance of winning the title, if only Michele Borassi had shown the slightest sign of being capable of losing an othello competition for the past year or so.

Even so, it's going to be exciting. David's splitting the two unstoppable Italians, Michael Handel is lurking in the chasing pack, lots of other great players are going to cause trouble tomorrow too. Hmm, maybe I'll skive off work...

It's worth watching just to see if we'll have a British world champion for the first time ever! The previous 31 world championships have gone to Japanese players 22 times, Americans five, French twice and "Dutch" twice - although those were the all-American David Shaman who lived in Holland for a while (nationalities are a bit more relaxed in othello than most other sports; which comes in handy if you travel around a lot, especially with the strict three-entrants-per-country qualification structure). With David, Michele and Donato pushing for a win, and former world champion Makoto Suekuni representing Singapore this year, there might just be a new country inscribed on the trophy.

As a final observation, I still haven't got my Davids straight in my head. Logging on to watch the David Hand v Nicky van den Biggelaar game, I saw a comment from David Beck and thought to myself "Eh? How's David commenting on the game when he's playing in it? Someone must be pretending to be him..."

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