Over the past year, The Baltic Times Open has grown from a good idea into a lasting tradition. Feb. 18 marked the first game of a second year, a clean tournament, and a fresh setting where both old and new players can build lasting contacts while generating progressive ideas.
This year's opening round saw both old faces and new. Eager to join a group of 13 returning teams, the newcomers jumped right into the competition and socialized their way through the crowd. Perhaps the Norwegian Embassy made the strongest impression, as they registered two teams for the 2005 tournament. Adding more Scandinavian flavor to this year's open, the Nordic Council is yet another new Norwegian team. The Diplomatic Economic Club joins this club of bowling rookies, giving spectators something fresh to put their money on.
The old tournament favorites, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, showed the competition where they stood - stealing the top three places respectively. All three teams ended the first game with points breaking 500, a sure sign that this bowling tournament's no longer dealing with amateurs. The Netherlands and Latvia II are some other teams to watch out for, as they placed sixth and fourth. And the game's most surprising underdog, Ukraine, did especially well, qualifying with 412 points for the second round.
Following the same structure as last year, only with less first-time organizational glitches, the Baltic Times Open will continue over six rounds until the grand final in December 2005. Diplomats and businesspeople will have plenty of time to swap cards, establish relationships and chat over sushi and wine. And the spirit of competition that made last year's game such a success, will live on. Hopefully, stronger than before.