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The Mediterranean Games

7. World Tantrix Open (2016)    

On a sunny weekend in May, 33 mostly European Tantrix players assembled in the colourful seaside town of Badalona. Three-time winner Niklas Andersson started well, winning game after game, looking sure to add to his already bulging bag of tournament honours. But in Tantrix anything can happen! And so it did. On day two Niklas faltered and was eventually overtaken by a couple of old timers. The final winner was Britta Steude from New Zealand, with Ben Polman (Netherlands) coming second. Third place went to rising star Eva Radix also from the Netherlands. Rolf Schreiber (Germany) and Attila Mikulan (Hungary) coming 4th equal.

Badalona is a cute coastal suburb of Barcelona with narrow streets and (almost) no parking, but an easy 15-min train ride from Barcelona centre. This was not the first WTO held by the sea, but it would have been the warmest, if not for an unusually cold spring. Fortunately, the cool weather was perfect for playing and thinking hard! The tournament organisers were local players Eduard Burguillos and Oscar Tamayo and it must be said they did an outstanding job!

The next WTO will be held in Hungary in September 2017, organised by Blick as part of a large festival celebrating all types of logic and maths. Not only will it be the 10th anniversary of the Hungarian Open, but also the first time any country has hosted the WTO twice. Oh and did we mention Trouble will be there? He wouldn't miss it for the world. Book your trip now!

1. Place:  Britta Steude (NZL)
2. Place:  Ben Polman (NED)
3. Place:  Eva Radix (NED)

Back row: Left to right - Taniel, Leslie, Perelo, Blick, Slartiba42, Mikem, Pellepen, Mikellos, Benopi, kameamea

Middle row: chikfresh, Leo14, GrandPere, Syagrius, wassolls, pimboli, Kcina, Smile, Francois, Lorene, Nica, Josefin, Spirit

Front row: Edu1313, NiklasA, letikee123, otaca16, xylotuba, Bdot, fafa, Superman, phildnarud

Zormac missing in action.

Highlights and impressions

One of the most original concepts unveiled over the weekend was Hungarian Leticia Lengyel's set of 3D Tantrix tiles. Each tile is a cube with 3 bands connecting the different faces of the cube. One of Leticia's tricks involved holding the growing pile of cubes together with tiny, almost invisible rubber bands. With good eyes and skillful hands each cube could be held in place. A challenge game was quickly arranged over Sunday breakfast between the "2D and 3D inventor", the result of which shall remain confidential.

The elite club of people who have competed in every single World Open did not lose any members this year. Six players remain - Niklas, Benopi, Pellepen, Leslie, Mikem and Kcina, the only woman. Trouble arrived in the company of Iris and looked like he had been enjoying his recent travels. Read her report below. Congrats for fending off 3 Trouble challenges on the back of 16 tournament games!

Like most WTO's a modified a Swiss style format was used along with plenty of help from Vincent Auger, who developed the matching algorithm. Eduard, the main organiser of the tournament was interviewed by a local Catalan TV station in the buildup to the tournament, so we are looking forward to an influx of Catalan players soon...

Thanks to the organisers for a superb event!

Good news travels fast

By Eva Radix - Netherlands

"On Thursday morning Smile and I flew in from Brussels to Barcelona and in the afternoon we visited the Sagrada Familia, the famous cathedral, first designed by Antoni Gaudi. From the outside I wasn't sure what to think of it. Risking saying something blasphemous: it's almost like the Frankenstein monster of architecture. Beautiful, totally weird and ugly at the same time. But the inside was so impressive. Especially the stained glass windows which make you feel like you're standing in the middle of a rainbow.

On Friday we went to parc GŁell and we ended the day with a dip in the sea. Locals must have thought we were crazy; going for a swim when the water was still so cold. But it was as warm as the Dutch North Sea in mid summer, so to me it felt like a nice refreshing dip.

First game on saturday, against Zormac, was the most memorable one: at some point I had two seperate lines. But then they got connected on one side, and then as well (missing only one corner) on the controlled side on the other side of the tantrix, giving me an almost-loop. But with Zormac getting the first free move, I had no hope of closing it. But after a closer look, it turned out he had no way of blocking the connection, nor getting rid of all my corners. Must have been so frustrating (sorry Z!). Endresult: 20-0 TP's.

As a mid-seeded player I'm never sure winning the first game is a good thing in a tournament using a swiss system, as you will have to face "the big boys" after that. So I was a little scared going into my following games, expecting to plummet back down at some point. But to my surprise the next couple of games went pretty well, and I managed to stay in the top 10. At lunch (and what a fantastic lunch it was! Very different from a typical Dutch lunch, which is usually hardly more than a slice of bread with some cheese) Superman and I joked around that we could make a deal: agree on a draw for our game, so we could both take a siŽsta, which would have been a good idea after such a copious meal. We decided to play anyway, but guess what: it turned out to be a draw! Too bad we skipped that SiŽsta on the beach.

The other very memorable game was the one against Benopi. In my 10 years of playing offline tournaments, I think I happened to beat a number of top players - just by sheer luck! - at least once, at some point or another. Blick, Niklas, Marek, Zormac, kameamea, mikem, you name them... But Ben... Never. By now, he's my most feared opponent. And he knows this, and I know he tries to use it against me. ;) But today I finally broke the long row of losses! Even if I had lost every game after that one, this had already made my day. I don't know if it had something to do with the fact I couldn't drink any alcohol (because of the little one in my belly) or maybe it was the absence of my party buddy Joyce, or perhaps simply the fact I'm getting older, but for the first time ever on a Saturday night at a Tantrix tournament I found myself in bed before midnight. Might be interesting to find out what a good night's sleep will do to my performance...

And what a difference it made! Usually after two nights of too much wine and too little sleep (okay, I admit: having fun with friends is higher on my priority list than actually playing Tantrix) I make mistake after mistake on the Sundays. But today I managed to limit them to only a few. Worst one was in the endgame against Wassolls. I tried to block his connection, but ended up giving him a choice between making or breaking his own connection... hmmm, guess what he chose? But other than that, I felt I wasn't playing too badly, and - truth be told - the tiles fell mostly my way. So all through Sunday I was able to stay pretty high up in the ranking. I couldn't believe what was happening.

And that is one of the (many) things I like about Tantrix. In general, higher ranked players perform better than lower ranked players. But there is always the element of luck involved. So every time you go to a tournament, you have this feeling that with a little luck on you side, this might be the time you're going to beat them all. And then it came down to the last round. Lots of players very close to one another in the top 6 or so. But I thought I was too low down for a medal anyway, so I wasn't really keeping track of the results of the other games, and what they meant for my position. I was happy enough with any position in the top 10 really. And then the last result was entered in the computer, and it turned out I ended up in third place! Amazing!

Two girls in the top 3 (like last year's WTO) and two Dutchies. Couldn't have wished for a better top 3. My congratulations to Britta and Ben. After the ceremony I phoned home to proudly tell my family the end result, but the phone was answered by my 5-year old with a "Congratulations mommy!!" Thanks to the internet, good news travels faster then ever. Apparently they had been following the Tantrix website all day: "It was like watching the Eurovision song contest voting: now she is 9th... 7th now... dropped back to 9th... 6th!... 3rd!!"

It was heartwarming to hear that they had been following the tournament results so closely. The weekend was concluded with dinner with those who stayed in Badalona for another night, and some more games in the hotel lobby. All in all I had a lovely weekend at an amazing location, and I'd like to thank the organisers (Edu and Iris) for their hospitality and smooth organisation. Hope to be back again someday to a Spanish Open. Or hopefully welcome you at a Dutch Open some time.

May the force be with you,

Trouble in Paradise

By Iris Gil - Spain

Check out some photos of "all the cool things Trouble has been doing" visiting Galicia just before the WTO.

"World Tantrix Opens are always an amazing event for me, but this year it seemed even more special than usual. First, it was in Badalona, venue of the previous Spanish Opens and second, I had Trouble with me! I got him at the last German Open in February and before WTO, we had spend some great months in Galicia. During that time I took him to many places in my region, to concerts and even to some of my music classes. He "taught" us some dances and songs from the countries he had been travelling in. The kids were delighted.

Well, back at the WTO, Trouble was very happy to meet many old friends again and also some new ones. From the first moment he wasn't unnoticed and challenges appeared soon. Eveline (Pimboli) was the first to ask on Friday evening and a bit later, Leticia (Letikee123) did the same. The next day in between games, Mike and Nica were added to the waiting list of challengers, but all had to wait. It was time for the Open games.

Trouble watched all my games patiently during the Open. After a first win on Saturday, the rest of the morning was a disaster. Time penalties, big loops. What was I doing? A challenge game like that and I wouldn't keep him anymore. Luckily I could focus and the afternoon went much better. After dinner it was time for the game against Pimboli. I knew she was really interested in taking Trouble to Switzerland. She had challenged Ben in the past, so I didn't expect to have an easy game. And it wasn't. Anyway, I managed to win by just one point. Great! At least I won one challenge, I thought.

Sunday games went well in general, in spite of some unlucky moves. Then, after 16 rounds and a good final position (I ended 13th!) the Open hadn't finished yet for me. Trouble games had to be played! As the waiting list stated the next one was Leticia. It was an easy game for me. I could build a long line while Leticia had nothing to do with hers. Blocked on one side, the other open, but focused on stopping me in some impossible way. The game ended with a big win for me and after a small rest in between the third challenger came: Mike.

This game was the opposite to the previous one. Mike had a beautiful line from the start, while mine was... just a project. Oh, no! Trouble would go to the Antipodes! At some point in the middle game everything changed. Mike's line got blocked for a long time while mine could grow. In the endgame both sides of Mike's line were permanently blocked and with my last tile I got a draw, enough to keep Trouble. After three defeated challenges there were still more players on the waiting list: Nica and Blick, but no more time to play. I must admit that after 19 games in 2 days I was exhausted. So I flew back home with Trouble on Monday. Something I wouldn't have expected some days before.

After the WTO, my 6-year-old music students were very happy to see Trouble back. He got lots of hugs and kisses from them. The kids love Trouble, although they still think he is a dinosaur instead of a crocodile..."

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Last update: November, 2017