The very first Four Nations Cup kicks off tomorrow, and continues on Sunday 11th April. Teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland will be competing for a unique trophy – and of course bragging rights! – in a four-way round robin, with the top two teams playing a final for the title and the bottom two playing off to avoid being the first wooden spoon winners. The trophy will be ready for presentation to the winning captain and team when live play resumes.
To set the scene… Season 1 of the UKBGF league drew to a close this week, fifty-seven divisions of 6 players makes an awful lot of backgammon! The final match to be played in Division 1 was played on the final day. At that point Gaz Owen was already the inaugural champion, on points difference, and one relegation place had been decided. But various permutations of outcomes for the rest were still possible, with the winner of this match having an eye on reaching second place, and the loser having to avoid a heavy defeat in order to avoid the drop.
Stuart Mann (Stuby) vs Tim Cross (Timster)
UKBGF League Div 1: 25th March 2021
by David Potter
Watch the match here.
I was fortunate enough to sit in on the streaming of this match between Stuart and Tim. Our commentator was Chris Bray, who is also in Division 1. Chris, in case you didn’t know, is a leading British player, The Times backgammon columnist, author of many backgammon books and teacher. He gave such expert analysis of the match, and so quickly. I could barely keep up.
It’s past midnight and here I am on XG trying to work out at what match scores to double when holding both five points. I probably should have gone to bed ages ago, and prepared for real work i.e. the English lessons I have to teach tomorrow. Nevertheless, here I am, virtually moving blots around to determine cube actions.
I’m glad we’re talking about this. I mean, I tried to bring this up in the pub the other night and was met with something between a glazed expression and a pitying look that seemed to suggest that I need help. However, all was not lost. “So, what’s a blot again?” one mate asked. And that was all it took.
This was the second year Backgammon London put on the Memorial Tournament, and this time it took place online over the last weekend of February. To add to the excitement were extra prizes – including a bespoke Katgammon set of backgammon accessories for the winner – with a third consolation and, by popular request, a last chance. We also had side pools with 100% return that reached £3350.
At the end of February, the UK took on Germany in a friendly match. There were twelve players on each team. This was the UK team: Gaz Owen, Oliver Squire, Rick Janowski, Chris Bray, Aref Alipour, Julian Fetterlein, Sebastian Wilkinson, Tim Cross, Jon Barnes, Lawrence Powell, Charles Hill and Steve Bibby. Chris Rogers was the non-playing captain with overall UK captain, Martin Barkwill, providing assistance.