Mike Snowdon writes:
An international challenge match is currently being played to decide which is the best Newcastle backgammon team in the world.
A team from Tyneside will play their counterparts in New South Wales 10,000 miles away online for the 2020 Novocastrian Challenge.
Representing the Newcastle upon Tyne team will be Martin Barkwill, Tim Cross, Pol Lapidakis and Gary Bratton. They are pitted against Robert Disney, Mick Dyett, Michelle Taubman and Tony Walker.
The round robin nine-point matches started this weekend, with players given four weeks to complete their matches.
Robert came up with the idea as backgammon clubs and players are getting their “fix” by playing online with the current covid-19 lockdown in place around the world.
He said: “Mick Dyett met Martin at an international tournaments and the two clubs have stayed in touch. A couple of times people in the UK have also contacted us by mistake, instead of our UK counterparts.
“With the pandemic, we’ve all got a lot of time on our hands and the idea of a friendly, intercontinental tournament seemed a great way of helping to fill the void of our regular club meetings.”
Martin added: “We were delighted when Robert approached us with the idea of an international challenge. In all, 11 of our members said they’d be interested in taking part and it would be great if this became an annual event.”
This match has captured the attention of the local media in the North East, featuring in the Northern Echo and with Martin making an appearance on BBC Radio Newcastle. Robert Disney of the Aussie club is giving an interview on ABC Newcastle on Wednesday 29th at 21.20 (UK time). The match has its own Facebook page where you can follow the match as it progresses – after the first round, the match is all square at 2-2 and subsequent rounds will be kicking off on Saturdays.
The North East Backgammon Association (NEBA) normally meets once a month at the Royal British Legion Club in West Jesmond. Anyone interested in joining can contact the club through the website: www.northeastbackgammon.com