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British Kendama Open Championships 2009

bko 2009
photo by fak
Back row, L-R: Mark T; James; Ben; Richard O. ; Jan; Guy; Chris; Lawrence; Jamie F. ; Gareth.
Front row, L-R: Jamie B. ; Mark; Richard; Ian; Greg; Void (Head Judge); Toby; Louis; Lucas; Floris.

After a venue and date change, numbers were slightly down for this year's BKO, with the notable absence of all but 2 of TeamKD. Still, this meant that the competition was wide open, with no clear favourite in either division or in the STC.

Workshops were held the day before the competition, with several beginner or new players attending, and almost all decided to enter the competition. This being the first "Open" championship, we had hoped to see some far eastern players attending. Unfortunately that was not to be, with the exception of Tempei, who agreed to judge, along with Void & Guy. We did however, have competitors from the Netherlands, Northern Ireland and Canada.

The competition started off with a quick game of Unicorns, to hopefully relax everybody a little, and then a Kendama Jam for 5 minutes, where players tried to hit an easy, medium, hard, silly or impressive trick for the audience. Then it was time for the competition proper to begin, with a demonstration of the beginner's trick list by Guy. Then the beginner's ladder began. Competitors came up in threes, and worked their way through the tricks. No one quite managed the full 12 tricks, but there was an even spread of achievement, with Lucas from the Netherlands coming out on top in his first kendama competition.

Next up was the first semi final of the Speed Trick Challenge. Qualifying runs had been attempted the day and morning before the comp, but no-one had been told their times, so everyone was eager to hear who had made it through to the last 4. The first two names called out were Louis and Guy, so up they came to do battle. Louis was a qualifier from last year, but this was Guy's first time entering the STC. Perhaps the experience showed, as Louis made it through to the final with a time of 34.9 seconds.

Next up came the advanced competitors, to run through the first half of their ladder. With the notable absentees, there were only 5 players who were all return players from last year. The trick level had increased, but how would the players cope? Not so well, it seems, as an attack of nerves descended upon the stage, with everyone performing far below the level that they were capable of. Still, that's how it goes in competition, and TeamKD managed to field a winner for the second year in a row, with Guy Heathcote taking this year's crown as the new British Kendama Champion.

The second semi final of the STC saw the return of last year's champion Mark, with the fastest recorded time yet of 28.2 seconds in the qualifiers, against new competitor Toby. Although there were a few misses along the way from both of them, the Champ made it through to the final.

At this point, having realised that we had forgotten to demonstrate the advanced tricks, Void stepped up to carry on from where Guy had left off. Without the pressure of competition, and with several 5th-attempt successes, the audience got to see all the advanced tricks completed by last year's champ.

And so to the final of the STC, in what was to prove the high point of this year's BKO. Mark was to face Louis, and all bets were off. It was neck and neck all the way, and when the clock was stopped, both judges looked at each other in confusion - who had been first to get in their tenth catch of Moshikame? The crowd weren't quite certain either, but luckily the competition was being videod, so a rewind-and-replay was called for. It was actually so close that head judge Void had to re-watch the tape 3 times before he was sure. And so, with his nose in front by just half a catch, the new STC champ was Louis!

It was then time for another Jam, as the judges tallied up the scores, and then prizes were awarded.

Thank you to all the competitors - without you there would have been no competition, and thank you to the sponsors Oddballs (Main competition) and Kendama.net (STC).

See you next year folks!


Advanced Division

Position. Name (Country) Highest level reached (misses along the way)

"British Kendama Champion" :
1. Guy Heathcote (UK) 8 (0)

2. Louis (UK) 7 (4)
3. Richard (UK) 6 (3)
4. Mark (UK) 5 (1)
5. Ian (UK) 3 (2)

Beginner Division

"BKO Beginner's Division Winner":
1. Lucas (NE) 11 (4)

2. Ken (UK) 10 (1)
3. Mark T. (UK) 10 (3)
4. Toby (UK) 9 (1)
5. Gareth (UK) 9 (4)
6. Floris (NE) 8 (1) *
7. Jamie F. (UK) 8 (1) *
8. Lawrence (UK) 8 (3) *
9. Greg (CA) 8 (3) *
10. Jan (NI) 7 (3)
11. Ben (UK) 6 (0)
12. Jamie B. (UK) 5 (5)
13. James (UK) 4 (0) *
14. Richard O. (UK) 4 (0) *
15. Chris (UK) 2 (0)

* Separated by moshikame tie-break

"British Junior Kendama Champion":
Ben Morgan

"BKA Speed Trick Challenge Champion 2009":