Her Worship, the Mayor of Kingston, Angela Brown-Burke (right), tries her hands at backgammon under the tutelage of organiser Knolly Moses (second right). The Mayor took on Marian Ross (left) of Sterling Asset Management, while India Crotty of Caribbean Producers Jamaica looks on. (Photo: Marlon Reid)
THE first staging of the Kingston International Backgammon Tournament, set for June 22-23, was launched on Tuesday at the Spanish Court Hotel.
The board game event, sponsored by Sterling Asset Management and Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ), is expected to have an international flavour, with several overseas competitors jetting in for the growing sport.
Organiser Andrew Issa said during this year of Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, they would like to consider the event a rebirth of Kingston’s culture by hosting international events,
“We are hoping to brand this yearly event for Kingston and will have several internationally-ranked players to boost the tournament,” said Issa.
“We are excited about prospects for this tournament as both a local and international attraction,” he added.
Backgammon is a dice game for two players, played on a board consisting of 24 narrow triangles called points. The triangles alternate in colour 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 points, five on each player’s 13 points, three on each player’s eight points, and five on each player’s six points.
Both players have their own pair of dice and a dice cup used for shaking. A doubling cube, with the numerals 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 on its faces, is used to keep track of the current stake of the game.
The object of the game is to move all one’s checkers into one’s own home board and then bear them off. The first player to bear off all of their checkers wins the game.
The event will be under the patronage of Her Worship the Mayor Senator Angel Brown-Burke, who was at the launch and gave her blessings.
Meanwhile, Marian Ross, business development officer at Sterling Asset Management, said her organisation was grateful to be a part of the event.
“I think backgammon and us have a lot in common with regard to a lot of patience… skills and… strategy, so we’re very happy to be partnering with you and we hope to have a lot of fun,” said Ross.
India Crotty of CPJ also announced that her company was proud to be involved. “Backgammon over the years has gained a new identity and a new market in Jamaica,” she said.
Issa also thanked the other associate’s sponsors: Spanish Court Hotel, Supreme Ventures, Wata, HaaenDaz, Rainforest Seafoods and PanMedia.
Approximately 34 persons will participate, with Mike Hirst being the defending two-time champion. The impressive list of some of Jamaica’s top corporate executive includes Chris Blackwell, Andrew Issa, Joey Issa, William Mahfood, Mark Mahfood, Eddie Azan, Knolly Moses, Mitta Rousseau, Simon Brownie, Mark Decambre and Mark Roberts.
Backgammon has been gaining popularity in Jamaica since the first major tournament in 1995. The game is being played at various venues, including Spanish Court Hotel, Grog Shoppe and Chez Maria.