And there we have it; day 1b is in the books. In keeping with what we have seen countless times before, this was not a day for the faint hearted. Right from the off, when the seat draw pitted Bertrand Grospellier, Gus Hansen, Michael Tureniec, Jesper Hougaard and Annette Obrestad on a table that went beyond just plain death and into the afterlife, this was always going to be a frantic eight hours of play.
There were 236 players at the start of the day; there are fewer than 90 players left now. All but one of those superstar table-mates faded and died. Only Obrestad remained rooted to her seat on table one as the other legends of the world game drifted away. But they're not alone on the outskirts of this tournament: we also lost Johnny Lodden, Julian Thew, William Thorson, Peter Eastgate, Ivan Demidov, Dario Minieri, Stephen Chidwick, Danny Ryan and Theo Jorgensen.
Jorgensen's fall was among the most dramatic. The man who will enter the boxing ring with Gus Hansen on Saturday went from Rocky Balboa to flea-weight no-hoper within a matter of about 10 level-seven minutes. He first took pocket kings up against Andrea Benelli's pocket eights, only to watch the Italian four-flush him for about 40,000 of his chips.
Jorgensen was soon seen on the ropes and then the canvass after the beats from Benelli kept on coming.
For the Italian, though, it was an entirely different story. He made a final table in Warsaw late last year, followed up with a fourth place in Deauville last month, and now he is the undisputed overnight chip leader, bagging approximately 100,000 chips as I type. He was the tormentor of Ivan Demidov in the early levels, then there were the altercations with Jorgensen, and soon we were looking up the Italian word for "steam-roller".
Italians have been the emerging national force on the EPT this season, but if an Italian triumphs in the land of the Scandi, the cat will well and truly be among the pigeons.
But that is getting way ahead of ourselves. There are another three full days of this one yet, and surviving from the carnage to take their place tomorrow are also the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Isabelle Mercier and Alexander Kravchenko. Then there's Ola Brandborn, Ilari Sahamies, Martin Wendt, Dennis Plejdrup, Andreas Hoivold and Orjan Hold, as well as all those returning from day 1a.
Flight Commander Kravchenko
All static pictures come (c) Neil Stoddart. More of all of this tomorrow. Goodnight!
Ice skaters pic