Judith Denton (left) of sponsors ATL Automotive takes on India Crotty of CPJ over a sip of wine at the launch of the Backgammon Tournament at the Spanish Court Hotel yesterday. Looking on is Andrew Issa of Coldwell Bankers, while in the background, the luxurious Range Rover draws the attention of some curious onlookers. (Photo: Lionel Rookwood)
APPROXIMATELY 30 players are registered for the eighth staging of the High Stakes Backgammon Tournament to be hosted at the Strawberry Hill Hotel, Spa and Garden between November 2-4.
This year’s event, which is organised by the Jamaica Backgammon Association, is being staged under the patronage of The Honourable Chris Blackwell, OJ, it was revealed at the launch yesterday at the Spanish Court Hotel.
The event which is gaining popularity in the island will again have ATL Automotive as the premier sponsors which will be brandishing the Land and Range Rover vehicles this year.
Judith Denton, ATL Automotive’s marketing and communications manager, said the lifestyles and the energies of the players and spectators alike are a great fit with the Land Rover brand.
“ATL is again pleased to be associated with this backgammon tournament, as we have a long history of supporting this tournament,” Denton pointed out.
“We are looking forward to an exciting tournament and thanks for inviting us,” she added.
Meanwhile, India Crotty, of sponsors Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ), introduced the several different kinds of wines that will be available at the three-day event and wished the competitors the best of luck.
“We are very proud to be involved once again, and this year the wines featured at the event will be called Sledge Hammer and it’s a man’s wine, no sipping or swirling allowed, strictly made for fun drinking. Hence it is perfect for this male-dominated Backgammon tournament,” said Crotty.
Meanwhile, Andrew Issa, president of sponsors Coldwell Bankers and an active member of the Backgammon Association, is expecting this tournament to be more competitive based on the upsets that transpired at this year’s Kingston International Backgammon Tournament earlier. “In the end, the best strategist will win.”
Michael Hirst is the defending two-time champion, having defeated William Mahfood in the finals last year.
Other serious challengers to the title are Roy DeCambre, last year’s Lost Souls winner, Ruddy Armstrong, Joey Issa, Bruce Levy, Chris Blackwell, Mark Mahfood, Mark Roberts, Eddie Azan, Warren Burrowes and Frederick Moe.
Once again the winning prizes are $400,000, $200,000 and $100,000 for first, second and third places, respectively.
The early dropouts will vie for the Lost Souls category which was won by Ruddy Armstrong last year.
Over the last 20 years or so, backgammon has been gaining popularity in Jamaica. It is a game for two players played on a board consisting of 24 narrow triangles called points. The triangles alternate in colours and are grouped into four quadrants of six triangles each.
The quadrants are referred to as a player’s home board and outer board, and the opponent’s home board and outer board. The home and outer boards are separated from each other by a ridge down the centre of the board called the bar.
The points are numbered for either player, starting in that player’s home board. The outermost point is the 24-point, which is also the opponent’s one point. Each player has 15 checkers of his own colour.
The initial arrangement of checkers is: two on each player’s 24-point, five on each player’s 13-point, three on each player’s eight points, and five on each player’s six-point.
Both players have their own pair of die and a dice cup used for shaking. A doubling cube, with the numerals two, four, eight, 16, 32, and 64 on its faces is used to keep track of the current stake of the game.
HOWARD WALKER Observer Senior Reporter