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Andreas Märtens Wins $600,400 at PartyGammon Million Event

by Michael Strato - 26 January 2007

ANDREAS MÄRTENS
Andreas Märtens of Germany defeated Lasse Hjorth Madsen of Denmark 23-22 in Thursday’s thrilling 23-point final of the PartyGammon Million tournament organized by Stephen Pearson, Susana Major and Michael Strato of Player International of the UK.

The event, sponsored by the PartyGammon backgammon server, was held from January 21-25, 2007 at the Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas - the final was played on the Dragons Patio of the Atlantis Resort from about 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, January 25, 2007.

Andreas Märtens is a former billiards player who has become a very talented backgammon expert. He won an online qualifier to this tournament and came to The Bahamas to prevail in the strongest-ever field in backgammon history taking home an astonishing $600,400. U.S., plus a precious $20,000 Swiss watch with a special backgammon theme designed by sponsor Marc Rouah of the bespoke Time-Wise SA watch company in Geneva, Switzerland.

And what a powerful field in this competition; many of the online qualifiers, though not regulars on the international circuit were actually very strong players, and amongst the world class experts attending were 25 of Yamin Yamin’s top 32 Giants of Backgammon - all together some 10 past World Champions attended including Philip Vischjager of The Netherlands, the current World Champ.

Andreas Märtens goes down in history as the Champion of the first-ever Million Dollar Backgammon Tournament!

Runner-Up Lasse Hjorth Madsen is a popular Danish expert who frequents Kit Woolsey’s GammOnLine Forum (where everyone was cheering him on throughout the event) and one who also happened to qualify online. Madsen pockets another awesome amount of money - $144,096.00 for second place. (Such payouts have never been seen in any past backgammon tournaments.)

The final was played on the Dragons Patio, a sundeck just outside the Dragons Bar and Nightclub of the Atlantis Casino, with a lovely tropical backdrop. It was filmed for television by MatchRoom and will be seen in many countries in the near future.

Lasse Hjorth Madsen of Denmark (L) and Andrea Märtens of Germany get set for the Final. In this shot, Director Howard Markowitz is about to give the green light to start play for a combined payout of $744,496.00.

Meanwhile, inside the Dragons Bar, many of the others that attended this event watched the final on two big screens…

One of the two screens showing the final in Dragons Bar. The mostly German fans you see on that side of the bar are watching the second screen behind the photographer of this shot.

…with expert commentary provided by Kent Goulding, Julian Wilson and Bill Robertie. (Bob Wachtel and Andeas Humke also lent a hand at one point.) The entire commentary team added spice and excitement to the final, while Goulding’s candidness and jokes amused the crowd.

Julian Wilson (bottom left) and Kent Goulding (R) do the commentary while Sam Pottle, Perry Gartner and Carol Joy Cole look on.

After drawing first blood with a single point in Game 1, Madsen won a gammon on a 2 cube in Game 2 to make it 5-0, followed by another single in Game 3 to take an impressive 6-0 lead. However, Märtens retaliated in the next three games, winning one, four, and then two points, to go ahead 7-6.

(Editor’s Note: Backgammon Giant #2 Neil Kazaross has kindly offered to comment on some of the positions from the final - his article on these will appear on GammonLife in the very near future. If any other experts would like to provide commentary and analysis on other position problems from the final for GammonLife articles, please request positions from Michael Strato.)

Märtens then continued dominating the match for some time reaching the score of 17-8, but at this point the balance of the scales starts to tip in Madsen's favour as he valiantly fights back.

At 21-11, Madsen wins one point, and from here the score goes 21-12, 21-14, 21-18, 21-20, 22-20 to DMP at 22-22! In the final game after Madsen opens with 4-1, Märtens has this 5-5 to play:

Kent Goulding and the players in the bar (out of hearing range of the finalists) were cheering on for the blitzy move of 8/3(2) 6/1*(2) and although Märtens did consider it, he eventually chose to play 13/3(2), which while not considered quite an error at 3-ply, the bots tend to prefer blitzing - 8/3(2) 6/1*(2) - as best with the move 13/8(2) 6/1*(2) coming in second.

Madsen then rolls 6-5 to make Märtens' bar point and Märtens rolls 4-4 bringing both checkers from his 24 point to hit Madsen's only blot on Märtens' (White) 16 point (Madsen’s 9 point).

After this play, the players got one more hit apiece in the early part of the game (both bearing back in easily) and then settle down to a holding game.

At one point Märtens leaves an indirect shot (7 pips away) which Madsen misses. Märtens brings the blot home to safety in the next roll but on Märtens' following turn he is forced to leave a shot with 6-1 here:

 

The Danish supporters go wild, Märtens plays 9/3 9/8 and silence befalls the crowd in the bar as Madsen shakes his dice vigorously… for a difference of more than $450,000 in prize money… needing a little ace to hit Märtens blot on the 17 point… and rolls…6-2!

The German supporters start to celebrate... but wait! Should Madsen play something like 7/1 and 6/4 here in case Märtens rolls a 1-1 next and thus Madsen would get one more shot at the title, or should he get into the race now (after the 18/12, 18/16 the pipcount will be 77 to 56 in Märtens favour) with Märtens on roll and already 21 pips ahead? The bots say it’s not totally wrong to stay but it’s better to go for the race – perhaps rollouts could change that decision – but with so much money at stake what would you have done? Well Madsen chose to race and Märtens next roll was a 5-1 anyway.

Madsen’s run home does not produce any big doubles to catch up and Märtens sails on to victory to become the Champion of the first PGM tournament and the winner of the richest prize money ever awarded in the 5,000 years of history of our game - a cool $600,400… now that’s totally awesome!

Congratulations to these two fine and worthy contestants, both were very admirable players and gentlemen throughout the event.

We are preparing another couple of articles we did not have time to write and published before returning home from Atlantis. One will cover the night of the semi-finals and another will be on the Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony. We have tons of photos to prepare and publish, more than 100 are already published in the Tournaments Section and some 100 to 150 more will appear in forthcoming articles and pictorials.

Pictorials in the next few days will include more from the scene of the final match (Dragons Bar and Dragons Patio), plus the Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony, and the day of the quarter and semi-finals as well as some from previous days - watch for them in our Tournaments section (they’ll be marked as New!) or sign up for the GammonLife Newsletter to be advised by email as soon as they are published.

The tournament was conducted by Director Howard Markowitz with the outstanding support from his team of Carol Joy Cole, Patrick Gibson, Troy Longman and Sam Pottle. Special thanks to all the tournament team for helping GammonLife with the data from this event (full results are further down in this article).

Andreas Märtens with PartyGammon Millon trophy next to

Stephanie Kardos of Canada, Miss Gammon 2007.

 
Runner-Up Lasse Hjorth Madsen put up a most valiant effort.
 
Player International's Stephen Pearson and Chris Mottershead celebrate the event's huge success in the Dragons Bar at the Atlantis Resort.
 

Player International's Stephen Pearson, Eddy Swaab, Backgammon

Giant #3 Francois Tardieu and Hans Helweg.

 
 
Andreas Märtens and PGM trophy of doubling cube topped with dice .
 
Marc Rouah presents special watch worth $20,000 to Andreas Märtens .

 

Here are the full results of the tournament:

 

PARTYGAMMON MILLION BACKGAMMON TOURNAMENT

(January 21-25, 2007 - Paradise Island, The Bahamas.)

Main Flight

Winner: Andreas Märtens (Germany)

Runner-Up: Lasse Hjorth Madsen (Denmark)

Semi-Finalist: Nack Ballard (USA)

Semi-Finalist: Ralf Jonas (Germany)

Quarter-Finalist: Alex Lehmann (USA)

Quarter-Finalist: Sander Lylloff (Denmark)

Quarter-Finalist: Arkadiy Tsinis (USA)

Quarter-Finalist: Henrik Veje (Denmark)

Consolation Flight

Winner: Lars Trabolt (Denmark)

Runner-Up: Torsten Haase (Germany)

Semi-Finalist: Kent Goulding (USA) 

Semi-Finalist: Yaniv Shimony (Israel)

$200 JACKPOT (11)

Winner: Odin Spillum Svendsen (Norway)

Runner-Up: Steen Grønbech (Denmark)

$500 JACKPOT (16)

Winner: Neil Garvie (Canada)

Runner-Up: Frank Frigo (USA)

$1,000 JACKPOT (18)

Winner: Nodar Gagua (Russia)

Runner-Up: Sakura Sugawara (USA)

$2,000 JACKPOT (16)

Winner: Rick Barabino (USA)

Runner-Up: Morten Holm (Denmark)

5,000 DOUBLES (8 teams)

Winners: Lars Bønding (Denmark) & Mark Teltscher (England)

Runner-Ups: Leo Fernandez (Argentina) & Christian Toth (Brazil)

This event was organized by Player International of the UK spearheaded by Managing Director Stephen Pearson.

 

Photos by Michael Strato and Kathy Liberopoulos

 

 

  

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