Nordic backgammon competition hailed as the world’s toughest – The Post

Nordic backgammon competition hailed as the world’s toughest

Home players are always a challenge, says visiting Brit

There was no podium, but Cecilia Sparke wasn’t going to be denied her champagne moment (photo: Facebook)
April 7th, 2015 4:43 pm| by Maria Dunbar
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Yesterday marked the fourth and final day of the 27th Nordic Open backgammon tournament, which this year was held at the Radisson Blu hotel in Amager, Copenhagen. The Denmark-hosted event, claims one of its competitors, is recognised as being the  “toughest tournament” on the world circuit.

“All the Danish players are really good at backgammon, so you know you’re going to be playing competitors playing for a lot of money and prestige within the backgammon world,” explained Cecilia Sparke, a runner-up in one of the plate tournaments who travelled from the UK to play, to the Weekly Post.

High stakes
In the end, Norwegian player Dagfinn Snarheim surprised the favourites (all of whom are Japanese) to win the main tournament, taking home prize money of 300,000 kroner.

A large crowd of competitors stayed on to witness the climax of his contest, which he eventually edged 21-20 thanks to a lucky pair of doubles right at the end of the deciding game.

More than luck is needed
However, Sparke, who was knocked out of the main tournament on Friday before ending up in Monday’s plate, is dismissive of how much luck is involved in backgammon.

“The dice are random, but what you do with them isn’t,” she said. “There’s always a chance you’ll get lucky, but the longer the match, the more a person’s skill can outweigh the luck factor.”

Doubling up, in which players can raise the stakes of an ongoing game at an opportune moment, is another element of backgammon often overlooked, contends Sparke.

Sparke, who paid just under 1,500 kroner to take part in the advanced tournament, eventually walked away with four times that amount.

She lost her first match, thereby putting her in a second-chance tournament on Saturday, and then lost her first match again to end up in the third-chance tournament. Thereafter, five victories saw her qualify for a final that she eventually lost 5-1.