2023 W.O.C. Teams: Italy24 October 2023
Written by Carlo Affatigato
As the country hosting the World Othello Championship 2023, Italy is facing the event with a unique mix of pride, enthusiasm, and satisfaction. The team is solid and ready to compete with this year's players, sure, but it's more than just that: nowadays, Italy is one of the most active countries in the world, both for the rich tournament schedule of the last few years and the general effort in making the Othello community bigger. And that generates expectations. Even more: that feels like a responsibility. In a positive way, of course, pushing the Italian players to make the best impression on the rest of the world, 13 years after the last time the WOC took place in Rome.
The Italian team for the 2023 World Othello Championship is made of three classic players, Alessandro Di Mattei, Roberto Sperandio, Paolo Scognamiglio, plus Chiara Gigliucci, competing as a female player, and Giulio Puzzo for the youth category. Damiano Foschi completes the team as reserve player. A team that can count on years of experience (even for Giulio, Othello was a family thing; his father is Luigi Puzzo, one of those who was already playing games in the 80s). And an additional note of personal satisfaction for Di Mattei, Sperandio, and Scognamiglio: in the year when Italy hosts the WOC, the qualification journey became particularly hard, with the return of some inactive players belonging to the history of Italian Othello, like Donato Barnaba (recently mentioned by Michele Borassi, winner of the 2023 European Championship, as the one who taught him the game), Andrea Silvola, Benedetto Romano, or Vincenzo Peccerillo. The qualification in such a competitive context felt like a reward for their constant presence in the Italian circuit, year after year.
Alessandro Di Mattei is probably the name most of the WOC participants are looking at. His impressive recent results speak for themselves: in 2022, Di Mattei was the European champion and finished sixth in the World Championship. His gameplay mixes strategy and creativity, and as a player, he's always focused on finding new ways to surprise the opponent. He's the perfect example of what this year represents for his country: he feels the pressure (especially the one he applies to himself), he wants to beat his previous performances, and he's preparing for this championship with exceptional attention. The general level this year is exceptionally high, he's aware of this. But that can only make things funnier, right?
Roberto Sperandio is facing his 14th World Championship with his usual philosophy: he's there aiming for the top spots of the standings, and he will try to beat his personal record in a World Championship by striving to be among the first five players. Age doesn't feel like a problem: although many players are younger than him, Sperandio trusts his mindset, which can often be a secret weapon in important competitions. The fuel remains the same: he's called to defend the reputation of the Italian team in this particular year.
For Paolo Scognamiglio, this is probably the most exciting moment of his Othello-life. He's hosting the World Championship as tournament director, organizing the competition with the help of a long list of supportive players acting beside him, and being part of the Italian team with the two players who witnessed his journey until today. His mission is to push Italy's final results from the bottom, and he shares the same feelings every player has when joining an important team: he's there and can leave a mark, as a player who's already at Europe's top level and can still improve.
Chiara Gigliucci and Giulio Puzzo will probably play in the World Championship trying to avoid all pressures, and that's the best approach you can have in any situation. Without a doubt, they all share the same pride: a compact team ready to face the expectations around them, representing a country that wants to surprise everybody. Something hard to achieve at those levels, but rumor has it that they all believe it's still possible. Even if nobody says it loud.