Red Beaver League: Marc, Maurits and Nick book important victories

The Red Beaver League season is getting into its final stages. In Level 1, Marc Van Damme slaughtered Michel Lamote 10-2 while in the Level 5 barrage duel, Maurits Pino came back from 2-4 down against Alain Chif to win 6-4. In RBLQ Nick De Ruyck narrowly defeated Sonja Custers in a crucial promotion duel.

Marc Van Damme has been the standard bearer of Belgian backgammon for more than 20 years. In the beginning of the century, he was already competing in the international arena and today, after long spells of absence (covid, other interests such as chess) he is back. And how…

In his first appearance in the RBL Marc started off his Level 1 duel (seven matches to 7) against Michel Lamote with two SGM (= Super Grandmaster) PRs of 1,94 and 2,57, good for a confidence boosting lead: 3-1. In M3, however, Marc’s 4,25 PR was not enough to take the PR point, but luckily a 17-to-1 shot from the bar saved the match so that it was not 3-3, but 4-2. Then Match 4 proved to be the match too many for both Marc and Michel. Marc won the match point and was unhappy with his 7+ PR, but Michel suffered a complete mental meltdown (dejection, fatigue…?) and played a 17+ PR (!). This meant that the opening session of the duel (four matches) ended with a 6-2 score. With his better OPR (= Overall PR), Marc would only need two points out of the last three matches to reach Level O (= the Final).

The week after, on Tuesday 21 February, both players met again at the Sandeman (Ghent) to play their duel to a finish. Marc delivered the coup de grâce by winning M5 with another SGM PR of 1,77 so that Michel’s PR of 3,00 was of no consequence: 8-2. Although the duel was thereby decided, M6 was played as a gentleman’s gesture: 10-2.

In short, Marc mercilessly steamrollered Michel into insignificance with a first-rate OPR of 3,43 and progresses to Level 0 where he awaits the winner of the Level 1 duel between Belgium’s numbers 2 and 3, Geert Van der Stricht and Johan Huyck.

Meanwhile, in the lower regions of the RBL, Maurits Pino staged a remarkable comeback in his Level 5 barrage duel against Alain Chif. After the opening session (three matches), Alain was 4-2 up, but saw his advantage evaporate as Maurits won both M4 and M5 with better PRs: 4-6. Maurits thereby secures his spot in the 2023-2024 RBL Playing Grid whereas Alain will play the runner-up of RBLQ (= the qualifiers) in a last-ditch effort to stay in the RBL.

In the RBLQ, Nick De Ruyck won a nervy duel against Sonja Custers (3-3/Nick wins narrowly on OPR) and stays in contention for promotion to the RBL. Nick will meet the favourite, Itzhak Solsky, on Wednesday 1 March in the Sandeman.

Please find the updated Results and Leaderboards by clicking on the RBL tab.

— Michel Lamote

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