45th Italian Othello Championships17 September 2023
Written by George Ortiz
The 45th edition of the Italian Othello Championships took place at the “Ludico Game” pub, the new home of Othello in Rome, on the weekend of September 9-10. This year’s Italian championships were all the more special with the 2023 World Othello Championships to be hosted in Rome in just a few weeks and several positions on the Italian WOC team were at stake (only Alessandro di Mattei was already qualified as the winner of the Italian GP and the Gran Maestro).
A total of 30 players turned up for the event and we were pleasantly surprised by the presence of three Italian masters returning to the game after many years away: Andrea Silvola, Benedetto Romano and Donato Barnaba.
As per tradition the 30 players were split into 2 separate tournaments : 22 master level players in the main “Open division” tournament (“campionato Assoluto”) and 8 players in the “Non-Master division” tournament (“campionato di Categoria”) restricted to beginners and intermediate level players.
Alessandro di Mattei led the standings in the Open division at the end of the first day of competition (7 rounds) going undefeated, followed by Donato Barnaba, Paolo Scognamiglio and the defending Italian champion Roberto Sperandio all tied on 5 wins.
The top four players of both tournaments (“Open” and “Non-Masters”) qualified for the semi-finals on the Sunday.
On the Sunday morning a fun “anti-Othello” tournament (the player with FEWER discs at the end wins) was organised for the players not involved in the semi-finals and was won by our President Biagio Privitera.
In the main semi-finals, defending Italian champion Roberto Sperandio showed great resilience defeating Alessandro di Mattei in three games after losing the first game. The other semi-final also went to three games in a very tight battle between Paolo Scognamiglio and Donato Barnaba, with Paolo eventually winning the third decisive game 28-36 after winning the first 33-31 and tying the second game.
In the other division (“Non-Master”/“Categoria”) only one semi-final game was played and two players from the region of Tuscany qualified for the final : Lorenzo Celandroni of Pisa and Paolo Barsotti of Lucca.
Just after the lunch break, before the finals, we all got ready for the traditional “magna magna” speed flipping competition. Defending “magna magna” champion Roberto Sperandio won the event again by flipping all 64 discs under 31 seconds. This event is always one of the main highlights of the Italian championships as it’s a lot of fun and open to everyone, not only the players involved in the competition on the Saturday but also friends and family.
The first final to be completed on Sunday afternoon was the new “Senior final” for players over 60, a novelty added this year. The first winner of the Senior title was the 1979 Italian champion Vincenzo Peccerillo who defeated Luigi Lamberti.
Next up was the women’s final between Chiara Gigliucci, who finished as the top female participant in the “Non-Master” division and Elisabetta Vecchi, the only female participant in the “Open” division. Chiara created the surprise by defeating the more experienced Elisabetta in two straight games (38-26, 25-39).
In the "Non-Master division" final, Paolo Barsotti and Lorenzo Celandroni drew the first game. Since this division final only allows for two games (with total discs as tie-breaker in case of a 1-1 result) it meant the second game was the decider and Paolo Barsotti won 35-29, his very first tournament win!
Finally in the main “Open division” final, Roberto Sperandio was too strong for Paolo Scognamiglio, winning in two straight games (47-17, 18-46). This was Roberto’s third national title in a row and his seventh overall!
The Italian team for the 2023 WOC will be composed of Alessandro di Mattei, Roberto Sperandio, Paolo Scognamiglio and Chiara Gigliucci. There is still one more spot available on the team for a junior player (under 16) and this will be determined on Sunday September 24th at a special tournament in Ferrara (in the Emilia-Romagna region).
We wish the Italian team all the best of luck at the upcoming WOC!