WSOB Kicks Off Season 2 with the UK Masters Tournament in London
by Michael Strato - 22 October 2007

The World Series of Backgammon (WSOB) kicks off their second season in London this November with the first of three major international events en route to a WSOB Championship Final with €160,000 in added prize money that will be filmed for their Season 2 television series.

Round One takes players to Casino at the Empire in Leicester Square, London, England from Nov. 15 to 18, 2007 to compete in the first UK Masters tournament that will be co-directed by Andrew Sarjeant, Director of Gammonitis, and Eric Guedj, CEO of PartoucheGammon and Executive Director of the WSOB, and with Natalie Guez assisting as Event Manager.

WSOB Series Producer Andy Bell and his crew will be on hand to film the series that will be commented on by Gus Hansen and John Clark with Jessie Cantrell as the host (see more details on that in this previous GammonLife article. The World Series of Backgammon is a Partouche Interactive Company.

The UK Masters has a £500.00 entry fee (approx. $1,000 or €700) and already some 60 players have registered their intent to attend the tournament. Besides the main event, there will also be an Intermediate flight for others that wish to compete at a lower level.

Round Two of the WSOB Season 2 will be staged at the annual TrueMoneyGames Nordic Open of the Danish Backgammon Federation (DBgF) from March 20 to 24, 2008 to be held at the Marienlyst Hotel and Casino in Helsingor, Denmark (near Copenhagen). Former DBgF President Henrik Bodholdt will be leaving his tropical paradise in Costa Rica to direct this 2008 Nordic Open. You can find more details about the event and pre-register also, at NordicOpen.dk.

Round 3 of WSOB Season 2, and the magnificent “Final Table” with €160,000 in added prize money, both take place as part of the Riviera Cup and WSOB Championship tournament from July 15 – 21, 2008 at Palm Beach Casino in Cannes, France and will be directed by Eric Guedj and the PartoucheGammon Team.

Online qualifiers for seats in WSOB events will probably not be available for the Round 1 event in London but will be for Round 2 and 3 in 2008. These will be announced at a later date. However, Mike Main will host a UK Masters Satellite Knockout Tournament held at The Lockside Lounge in London on the evening of Tuesday, October 30, 2007 and the winner will receive a non-transferable voucher for a seat in the WSOB UK Masters Backgammon Tournament worth value £580.

Backgammon has reached a whole new level with such fantastic tournaments and the fact that they will be televised is making it all a great incentive for players to attend; to see how far they go, get a shot at winning big money prizes and to appear playing Backgammon on television just like Poker players do. It is definitely promoting, and bringing new blood to our game – for example, the WSOB is capturing a lot of interest in Greece, where Backgammon or Tavli (as it is called there) is the national pastime and a sport of mind.

So far, some eight Greek players will be attending the UK Masters including Alexandros Kolonias, Dr. Christos Groutsos, Manos Mastorakis, Aris Hadjiaslanis-Saracakis, who are already known on the international circuit, and several newcomers, one of which is Konstantinos Sarris from the island of Chios.

Who will be competing at this first UK Masters? Quite a few well-known experts from across the globe including World Champions, Giants of Backgammon, and other title holders, but also some other newcomers - here is the list so far:

1. Gus Hansen [Denmark]

2. Morten Holm [Denmark]

3. Sander Lylloff [Denmark]

4. 'Falafel' Natanzon [Israel]

5. François Tardieu [France]

6. Julian Wilson  [UK]

7. Nigel Bridges [UK]

8. Georgio Gerakio  

9. Henrik Bang [Denmark]

10. Fernando Rocha [Argentina]

11. Alexandros Kolonias [Greece]

12. Chris Ternel [England]

13. Barry McAdam [UK]

14. Derek Irwin [UK]

15. Julian Fetterlein [British]

16. Atle von der Fehr [Norway]

17. Felix Vink  [Ireland/Holland]

18. Walter Busato [Italy]

19. Peter Bennet [UK]

20. John Clark [UK]

21. Chris Bray  [UK]

22. Lawrence Powell  [UK]

23. Philip Vischjager  [Holland]

24. Mario Sequeira  [Portugal]

25. Gérard Duruz  [Switzerland]

26. Jürgen Orlowski  [Germany]

27. Martin Barkwill  [Geordie/UK]

28. Brendan Burgess  [Ireland]

29. Mochizuki Masayuki  [Japan]

30. John Hurst  [UK]

31. Kostas  Sarris [Greece]

32. Barry McAdam [UK]

33. James Birch [UK]

34. Michel Bach [UK]

35. Julian Minwalla [UK]

36. Dod Davies [Wales]

37. T.J. Saba [Canada]

38. A.Hadjiaslanis-Saracakis [Greece]

39. Brian Lever  [UK]

40. Christian Plenz [Germany]

41. Kim Lethan  [Denmark]

42. Christos Groutsos [Greece]

43. Hans-Ulrich Koch  [Germany]

44. Jan Jacobowitz [Germany]

45  Jakob Holdt-Simonsen  [Denmark]

46  Kim Norberg  [Norway]

47. John Broomfield  [England]

48. Karsten Bredahl [Denmark]

49. Sean Casey [Ireland]

50. Nicky Check [England]

51  Ashutosh Davli [UK]

52. Ricky Michaels  [UK]

53  Maric Zoran [Bosnia/ Herzegovina]

54. Gotz Hilsberg  [Germany]

55  Ed O'Laughlin  [USA]

56. Sean Williams  [UK]

Matvey “Falafel” Natanzon, Backgammon Giant #4, has endorsed the series saying, “The new WSOB has great appeal to players of all levels and I will be playing each event to maximise my chances of qualifying for the WSOB Championship.”

At GammonLife.com, we believe that the WSOB will be very interesting for players to follow online and we hope to be able to attend each of the three stops of WSOB Season 2 to bring you daily coverage as we have in the past from other major events such as the 2007 World Championship, the Atlantis Million and others. However, since GammonLife.com is a free website we can only do this with your help – click on this link to see how you can support GammonLife and read daily news, live from these WSOB tournaments and other upcoming events.

The World Series of Backgammon says it will capture “the match action, jeopardy and background around the world’s leading backgammon events” and will broadcast in some 55 countries; on Eurosport 1 and 2; ESPN International, Casino and Gaming TV (Canada) and Jet TV (France).

Congratulations to Andy Bell, WSOB Director and Series Producer, and Eric Guedj, WSOB Director and Executive Producer who have steadfastly pursued their interests in developing Backgammon to this next level.

Andy Bell, who is the pioneer of televised backgammon, is an award-winning television producer with a raft credits across well-known music specials, drama and documentaries for BBC, ITV, Channel 4 in the UK and Bravo and PBS Network in the U.S. His first televised backgammon show was the High Stakes Backgammon series filmed at the World Championship a couple of years ago, followed by his Season 1 production of the WSOB from the 2006 Riviera and Nations Cup at Palm Beach Casino in Cannes.


Meanwhile, Eric Guedj has become the leading light in the commercial development of backgammon, creating the highly successful PartoucheGammon Tour in 2007 and has been instrumental in the development of televised backgammon, co-creating the World Series of Backgammon with Andy Bell.

Eric also established the Riviera and Nations Cup tournaments in Cannes some five years ago, which is considered one of the best tournaments in the world. He has been the driving force behind Groupe Partouche’s backgammon development live, and online, and is totally devoted to Backgammon, tirelessly striving for perfection in all he does. All this solidly confirms Eric’s status as the world’s leading architect and director of live backgammon events.


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