Loved for its challenging strategy and exciting component of luck with the dice, Backgammon has witnessed tremendous eras of popularity throughout history. The last Backgammon craze occurred between the mid 1960s and late1980s and was ignited by *Prince Alexis Obolensky who organized the first major international Backgammon tournament in The Bahamas in March, 1964 and later his first major European Backgammon tournament in Monte Carlo in 1973.
Photo copyright ©1973 by Joseph Pasternack.
Online Backgammon has caught on since the advent of the Internet. Its popularity has seen significant increases especially in the last two years; the upswing is constant and numerous media sources are showcasing it as “the next big game”.
PartyGaming Plc, the world’s leading online gaming company, added icing to the cake with its launch last month of their latest product PartyGammon - a new play site where backgammon enthusiasts can play for fun or for real money.
One can now expect to see widespread competition in the Backgammon field that PartyGammon will surely dominate through advertising campaigns and its vast marketing powers. PartyGaming is the same phenomenal company that also owns PartyCasino.com, PartyBingo.com, and the world's largest online Poker room, PartyPoker.com - PartyGaming was listed on the London Stock Exchange in July 2005 with a market capitalization of nine billion dollars U.S., ranking it in the top half of the FTSE 100 index.
To herald this new era of the game, Player International Ltd of the UK, organizers of the first million-dollar tournament, today launch this, their free Backgammon community website called GammonLife.com. The million-dollar Backgammon competition is set for January 21 to 25, 2007 and will take the game back to the original venue Prince Obolensky himself chose 46 years ago - The Bahamas. The extravaganza will be held at the famous Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island; world champions and celebrities will attend, the event will be filmed for a television series and the first-place winner will walk away with an unprecedented $500,000 in prize money.
In a festive mood this morning at his London office , Player International Managing Director and GammonLife Publisher Stephen Pearson smashed a bottle of Krug, Clos du Mesnil 1995 champagne against his computer screen to celebrate the birth of GammonLife as it appeared on the World Wide Web for the very first time:
"I have 100% confidence in our team to provide our readers with the best online magazine and the most relevant resources on the game. We will help players of all levels with reading material by the world’s top strategists and champions. We want to appeal to one and all and hope to bring new, young blood and energy to the game by making it trendy and hip. We have plans for all kinds of fantastic international events - in addition to big-money tournaments, there will be one-of-a-kind contests and pageants with luxurious prizes accessible to all. Cheers! Let the dice and the good times roll!”
And the fun has already begun as today GammonLife also launches the Miss Gammon 2007 beauty competition.
The GammonLife magazine will present readers with news on live tournaments, a brand new weekly series of articles for novice players called “Beginners Please” by UK expert Paul Money and just published is an excellent tutorial authored by Dutch expert Robert-Jan Veldhuizen on how to obtain and use the free GNU Backgammon bot (robot player) developed through neural networks by The Free Software Foundation (FSF). GNUBG, as it is commonly known, has a World-Class engine one can play against, and since it analyzes games, it can be used for training and will show a player all his errors in play as well as evaluate his current and projected skill level after each game.
Other columnists and contributors include World Champions Paul Magriel, Frank Frigo and Nack Ballard, the reigning #1 Player in the world for the past six years.
Guru Paul Weaver, #16 in the world, will also share his knowledge on the game as will François Tardieu, three-time European Champion, currently the #3 Player in the world. Walter Trice, renowned author of Backgammon Boot Camp, and Mary Hickey, the eight-time Ohio State Champion, will provide regular strategy columns for advanced players. Top U.S. player Gregg Cattanach will report on his personal experiences and adventures at American Backgammon Tour events while news and results from international events will arrive from other GammonLife correspondents. Read more on GammonLife’s columnists and contributors in their mini-bios in the Writers Section where you can also access all the material published by each so far.
While Backgammon has been played by emperors, kings and queens, and the rich and famous, dating back more than 5,200 years ago it is an ever-popular pastime in Greece, Turkey, Israel and all the Arab nations where it is played daily by millions.
Organized backgammon player federations have flourished in recent times in virtually every country in Europe where many refer to the game as The Sport of Mind. A larger player association exists in Japan and other new ones are springing up in several other countries around the world.
Numerous winners of national and international titles can be found in GammonLife’s Past Champions section, an ever-growing compilation of data that has not been listed all together in one place until now.
Nicole Kidman, Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kylie Minogue, Lucille Ball, Hugh Hefner and Omar Sharif are just a few of countless famed celebrities, past and present, that are or have been acquainted with the game.
Tina Turner on the cover of the Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine in 1979.
Even many of today’s best Poker players are or were professional Backgammon players: Gus Hansen, Paul Magriel, Mads Andersen, Phil Laak, Dan Harrington, Chip Reese and Erik Seidel are just a few top Poker buffs that have won major titles in the Backgammon world.
*Oby, as Prince Obolensky was known to friends, was a member of a Russian émigré family that fled Russia after the Revolution of 1917. He was the President of the World Backgammon Club of Manhattan, New York until he passed away in 1986 at the age of 71. The photo above was provided by Joe Pasternack, Director of Corporate Development of the World Backgammon Club and is protected by copyright.