It sometimes all comes down to the final. In the fifth and final round of a year-long bowling open, the international community in Riga once again got together on December 2 to find out which country would take home the Baltic Times Open cup for 2005.
The night started out with China, Finland, Ukraine and Latvia II battling it out for the consolation prize. It was a close game, but clearly the bowling skill of the Chinese team's captain, Ambassador Zhang Limin, proved to be the magic needed for the Chinese team. His Excellency Zhang Limin Ambassador of China is a highly skilled bowler. He admits that this is a popular pastime in China and that he does well at it. In fact, it may well have been this skill that saw the Chinese team ahead of the rest of the teams in the category. Taking this into account, all teams are forewarned for 2006 's the Chinese team is ready to roll.
The Open continued with the Grand Masters Final which saw teams from Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. The Netherlands' captain Fred Kamperman took home the Captain's prize for his great play in the Captains' Game. Team play was extremely close, but saw the Sweden I team pull ahead for the second year in a row to take the final prize. Second and third places went to The Netherlands and Russia respectively who, in fact, finished with 1 point separating them. Fourth, fifth and sixth place were incredibly close. It would be even more difficult to say which of the teams - Denmark III, Denmark I and Finland II 's placed first in the singing competition during the awards ceremony. Surely the Russian team walked away with the prize for crowd participation - they even got an encore!
The six teams who participated were in good spirits and ready for some friendly competition. But in fact, the word competition may not truly reflect what this event is all about. A chance for dignitaries and foreign representatives to meet with the local community, this event has become a way for countries to connect in an informal and fun atmosphere. As Anders Lindgren, Captain of the winning Sweden I team and Second Secretary at the Swedish Embassy put it, "we have come together as competitors but leave as friends."
The Baltic Times Open will take place again next year and is open for registration now. This truly is a special event. Connecting people from all over the globe these informal and fun evenings pave the way for some invaluable contacts and some great laughs.