EPT8 Campione: Keeping your head as everyone else loses theirs
We expected to burst the bubble within a level today, but play has been slow to get going with each of the last 99 quite keen to be among the last 88.
Play has been particularly slow on table eight, where the game was halted for nearly ten minutes when a dispute about chips erupted between Jose Severino and Luca Antinori in the seat next to him, which has resulted in the player warning klaxon being moved permanently next to Antinori's head.
It's quite a head.
For anyone who has ever seen the film, The Day of the Jackal, Antinori looks a little like Edward Fox towards the last scenes, when he eats charcoal to help turn his skin grey, in order to pass himself off as an old man. Antinori's face is pale grey, coincidentally the same colour as his hair, his t-shirt and his ripped jeans. His shoes are black.
Things start to kick off
All of this is clearly visible because he's spent much of the level standing up. The issue began when it emerged Antinori might actually be riffling Severino's chips. Severino (on around 280,000) had had some purple chips, but now he hadn't. He realised this as Antinori (on around 115,000) was riffling some purple chips.
"I think you grabbed them by mistake," said Fabrice Soulier, watching, as the pair, at first calmly and politely, started debating which chips belonged to whom.
Keeping calm: Fabrice Soulier
Then Antinori started getting excited and all hell broke loose in Italian, which was no use to Severino who is from Panama, unless, spurred on by the crisis, he suddenly found himself fluent in the local lingo.
"He saw it!" yelled Severino, pointing at Soulier, who, to his credit, never shirked from being the independent witness. Finally tournament director Teresa Nousiainen arrived, asking Soulier for his explanation first as he was the only one capable of speaking without spitting blood at the same time.
It's like this...
"I think by mistake he (Antinori) grabbed his (Severino) chips," said the Frenchman, with clarity and coolness that frankly seemed out of place by now. The only person calmer than Soulier was the dealer, who denied any knowledge of anything.
Nousiainen then asked Severino for his explanation, which he gave while Antinori talked over him. When it came for Antinori to give his account, Severino talked over him too, prompting Antinori to disregard allegations of hypocrisy and shout "I speak in this moment!"
Getting things straight
Taking a breath he then calmly explained the situation (by now no one really knew anything anymore), and politely blamed Severino for everything that was wrong. And Soulier.
"For me it's not a problem, you decide," he said to Nousiainen; it clearly being a problem and something he wanted to decide.
Antinori reaching out
Simeon Naydenov, at the other end of the table, then piped up with what sounded like a compromise that may or may not have involved everyone giving a purple chip to Severino. Nobody actually said "shut the hell up," but they were thinking it, and Naydenov was rendered moot, and mute. This was no time for diplomacy.
Nousiainen had to make a decision though so took five purple chips (each worth 500) from Antinori and gave them to Severino, eager for play to get going again.
Antinori protested (seeming to suggest that he should be denied six chips, not five) and then said something to Severino, all while Soulier tried to assure him this was not personal. Had his mother been involved, this could now not be more personal to Antinori.
"Next time say nothing," he said to Soulier, who, still calm, replied that if he sees something wrong he's going to say something as Antinori grabbed his cigarettes and lighter and headed to the rail.
Antinori defending himself from all fronts
"He's going to blame me forever now," said Soulier, grinning. Antinori heard Soulier saying something and came back to stare at him, so Soulier said it again to his face.
Thinking there was honour among thieves, or at least countryman, Antinori turned to an Italian TD for help, forgetting that he had no right to appeal. He was sent back to his seat, sulking; the dealer taking his ante as he sat with his arms folded. Then he folded out of turn, which usually carries a two-hand penalty, but sensing more trouble and powered by that overwhelming life force within us all that craves an easy life, Nousiainen left it at a warning.
"Just play," she said, and the cards were back in the air.
Just not for long.
"I need you to behave!" said Nousiainen, repeatedly after Antinori had been yelling in her face and using hand gestures and everything. An Italian speaker stepped in to translate what Antinori desperately wanted to say. Hopes that it was an urgent apology soon faded as he went over old ground, ground that he'd left scorched a few moments before. Finally he left for a cigarette.
Accepting his fate
A good decision it seems. He returned, calm, found ace-king, and doubled up to 240,000 against the pocket jacks of, yes, Severino.
240,000? Make that 237,500.