PartyGammon Million Stars Emerging on the Atlantis Resort
by Michael Strato - 21 January 2007

PARADISE ISLAND, The Bahamas - The PartyGammon Million backgammon tournament kicks off later today (Sunday) on the Royal Deck of the Atlantis Resort here in The Bahamas with a Welcome Cocktail Party followed by the Calcutta Auction. Then, the action begins in Round 1 tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.
There are now 122 players registered to compete in this historic backgammon event that will payout a minimum of $1 Million with half of that going to the winner. The field is limited to 128 and it is still possible that the last six seats will be sold otherwise there will be rebuys.

GammonLife will report daily with articles, photos and the ladders. The full list of the names of all participants would be published on GammonLife tomorrow in the ladder for Round 1. You can see all the names registered so far and wager on which player or country will win at www.PartyBets.com.

Yesterday, with only seven seats remaining, we heard that Backgammon Giants Gus Hansen and Mads Andersen are trying to make it here on time to play. These two Danes played backgammon before they became stars in the Poker world, where amongst other major poker titles, Gus just won $1.5 in the Aussie Millions event in Australia earlier this week and Mads $360,000 at the Bellagio event earlier this month. It looks like Mads will get here for sure but it is more doubtful that Gus will.

With Gus and Mads in, we would have 27 of the top 32 backgammon players in the world, ranked according to Yamin Yamin’s Giants of Backgammon poll.

PartyGammon, Player International, Howard Markowitz and MatchRoom, each with their respective teams, are on the scene with all the equipment needed to run a smooth event – backgammon boards, clocks, dice, TV cameras, etc. etc. - everything has arrived on schedule.

PartyGammon and Player International will oversee the proceedings, Howard Markowitz and his teams will run the tournament and the Match Room TV crew will film the event which will be seen at a later date on TV channels in many countries (precise details on this to be announced).

The players will play in the Atlantis Grand Ballroom on brand new PartyGammon branded boards manufactured by Hector Saxe of Paris and will use translucent precision dice and clocks, with a Bronstein system in place of 15 seconds per move plus a reserve of 2.5 minutes per point based on the length of the match.

Entrance to the Atlantis Grand Ballroom.

There will seven rounds in the main flight of this tournament, with two rounds per day from Monday to Wednesday – and the fantastic final match on Thursday, January 25. See the full schedule of events in the PartyGammon Million brochure.

While many players checked in yesterday and the rest arrive today, some players got here much earlier, probably to circumvent the effects of jet lag. French players Francois Tardieu and Jacques Elbilia has been here for a whole week already while Germans Peter Heitmuller, Andreas Humke, Sven Rumcker and Ralf Jonas for several days. Leo Fernandez of Argentina was spotted early yesterday, and Julian Fetterlein and James Vogl of the UK checked in to the hotel yesterday afternoon.

USA's Carter Mattig (white shirt) looks at positions with Julian Fetterlein (R) of the UK. David Wells, Odin Spillum and Matvey "Falafel" Natanzon are just a few of many others that were in the area at the time.

Later yesterday evening, many more backgammon players had arrived and could be seen in a bar off the lobby area of the Royal Towers, chatting and sharing a laugh while others played money games. (Meanwhile, less than 25 metres away and one level down, famous celebrities were playing in a poker tournament that was part of the Michael Jordan Invitational Golf Tournament happening here – though a private event, the public could watch the proceedings from a bridge crossing over the area – we spotted Michael Douglas, Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn and of course Michael Jordan himself, who also happens to be an avid backgammon player.)

PartyGammon Million has attracted quite a few players that have not played backgammon regularly on the international circuit for a few years – such as two time World Champions Jorgen Granstedt, Bill Robertie, as well as David Wells and James Vogl to name a few.

When Player International first announced its intentions to organize this tournament at Atlantis, most players had doubts it would ever happen, and perhaps rightfully so, after two other failed attempts to make million-dollar backgammon tournaments by other groups in recent years.

“I was one who had doubts it would happen,” admits two-time World Champion Bill Robertie, “congratulations!”

Stephen Pearson, Player International’s Managing Director, hopes that this event will be spark a new era in backgammon’s fame and popularity and is planning other incredible tournaments in the near future – believe it!


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