World Championships of Backgammon
by Dale Kerr
Originally posted to the Australian Backgammon Bulletin Board
September 2007

Below is arguably the most comprehensive article to date on the Backgammon World Championships.


  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Prince Alexis Obolensky
  3. 1964–1970: International Tournament, Bahamas
  4. 1967–1975: Unofficial World Championships, Las Vegas
  5. 1976–1978: European Championships, Monte Carlo
  6. 1976–1978: Official World Championships, Bahamas
  7. 1979–2008: Official World Championships, Monte Carlo (Championship Flight)
  8. Facts and Figures
  9. Issues of Contention
  10. Bibliography and Further Reading


I would like to acknowledge to date the efforts of Chris Bray, Carol Joy Cole, Bill Davis and Hardy Hübener in assisting to make this research more complete than it otherwise would be. In time, I'm hoping that the number of gaps remaining will be minimal.

Prince Alexis Obolensky

Prince Alexis Alexeevich 'Oby' Obolensky (b. 1914, St. Petersburg, Russia; d. February 8, 1986, New York, USA) was an aristocratic socialite whose family fled from Russia to Istanbul after the Revolution of 1917. Obolensky, sometimes referred to as the "father of modern backgammon", was taught the game as a child by the family's gardener. Years later, Obolensky emigrated from Turkey to the United States and travelled the world promoting the game, co-founding the World Backgammon Club and becoming its president, while Joseph Pasternack became Chief Operating Officer.

1964–1970: International Tournament, Bahamas

Obolensky organised the first of a series of international backgammon tournaments in March 1964 when a friend of his opened the Lucayan Beach Hotel in Freeport, Bahamas (a city on the island of Grand Bahama, located approximately 160 km east-northeast of Fort Lauderdale), offering him $10,000 to gather a jet-set backgammon crowd and to fly them down for the hotel's opening. An invitational field of 32 (or 40?) players were in attendance and the Obolensky Cup was presented to Charles Wacker III of Chicago when he defeated Porter Ijams of New York in the final. In the following years, similar events were staged in the USA, Britain and other European countries.

Year Ent Winner Runner-Up
1964 32 Charles Wacker III, USA Porter Ijams, USA
1965 John Crawford, USA
1966 Oswald Jacoby, USA
1967 Oswald Jacoby, USA
1968 Oswald Jacoby, USA
1969 Walter Cooke, USA
1970 Walter Cooke, USA

1967–1975: Unofficial World Championships, Las Vegas

  • The World Championships held in Las Vegas are considered to be unofficial, although the winners are generally accepted to be World Champion.
  • 1967: Obolensky founded The World Backgammon Club as a vehicle to promote backgammon to a new generation of players, and staged the first tournament with the title 'World Championship' in Las Vegas. The event was held in February (?) at the Sands Hotel and Tim Holland of the United States became the first backgammon World Champion.
  • 1969: Some reports that the event did not take place (reasons unknown), other reports that it was indeed held and Alice Topping won.
  • 1970: Appears to be universally accepted that the event did not take place (reasons unknown).
  • 1972: Obolensky founds the Backgammon Association of America which created a standardized set of rules and organized national tournaments.
  • 1975: While there are some reports that the event was held in the Bahamas, the July issue of Backgammon News reports that the event was held in Las Vegas, was recognised as the 7th World Championship, with the winner receiving the Wacker Cup, which was donated by Chicago's Charles Wacker III (winner of the inaugural International Tournament in the Bahamas, 1964).
Year Ent Winner Runner-Up Score
1967 Tim Holland, USA 25–
1968 Tim Holland, USA 25–
1969 Alice Topping?, USA
1970 [not held]
1971 Tim Holland, USA 25–
1972 Oswald Jacoby, USA Edward Burns, USA 25–19
1973 270? Carol Crawford, USA Lewis Deyong, USA 25–
1974 Claude Beer, USA Philip Martyn, GBR 25–
1975 350? Billy Eisenberg, USA Arthur Dickman, USA 25–21

1976–1978: European Championships, Monte Carlo

  • Winners of the European Championships held in Monte Carlo are generally considered to be unofficial World Champions.
  • 1976–78: The Monte Carlo event is actually called the "European Championships."
Year Ent Finalists Score Semifinalists
1976 Joe Dwek, USA (W)
Kiumars Motakhasses, IRN
1977 Jean-Noël Grinda, FRA (W)
Bob Brinig, USA
25–24 Hermes Michelides, GBR
R. Maizel, ISR
1978 Richard de Surmont, FRA (W)
Kal Robinson, USA

1976–1978: Official World Championships, Bahamas

  • 1976: Lewis Deyong, a London businessman, schedules the first official World Championship to be held in the Bahamas in February at Paradise Island.
Year Ent Finalists Score Semifinalists
1976 Baron Vernon Ball, USA (W)
Arthur Dickman, USA
1977 Ken Goodman, USA (W)
Jim Crosby, USA
25–24 Jason Lester, USA
Alan Lorenz, GBR
1978 256 Paul Magriel, USA (W)
Kal Robinson, USA
25– Kent Goulding, USA
Al Hodis, USA

1979–2008: Official World Championships, Monte Carlo (Championship Flight)

  • 1979: Lewis Deyong combines the Monte Carlo 'European Championship' and the Bahamas 'World Championship', creating a single event in Monte Carlo.
  • 1995: The last time the Backgammon World Championship (280) attracts more players than the World Series of Poker (273).
  • 2003: Internet qualifier Chris Moneymaker wins the World Series of Poker, and the popularity of poker booms exponentially.
  • 2005: The World Series of Poker moves from Binion's Casino in April/May to Harrah's Rio in June/July, thus conflicting with the World Championships of Backgammon.
  • 2007: Over 100 of the world's best players converge upon Paradise Island, Bahamas in January for the inaugural $10,000 buy-in PartyGammon Million event, the brain-child of Michael Strato, Stephen Pearson, and Susana Major. In the final, Andreas Märtens of Germany defeated Lasse Madsen of Denmark at double match point, 23–22, to take home the winner's cheque of $600,400, Lasse collecting $144,096 as runner-up.
  • 2008: The second PartyGammon Million event, planned as a Mediterranean cruise from Venice, Italy, is cancelled.
Year Ent Finalists Score Semifinalists
1979 305 Luigi Villa, ITA (W)
Jeff Westheimer, USA
1980 Walter Coratella, MEX (W)
Al Hodis, USA
25– Luigi Villa, ITA
Roger Low, USA
1981 250 Lee Genud, USA (W)
Joe Dwek, GBR
25–19 Phillip Swart, GBR
Michel Camhi, FRA
1982 Jacques Michel, CHE (W)
Mike Corbett, USA
25– Frank Gosenhauser, ZAF
Peter Blachian, DEU
1983 Bill Robertie, USA (W)
Simon Naim, CHN
25– Adrian Swart, ISR
Gabriel Horowitz, USA
1984 Mike Svobodny, USA (W)
Uli Koch, DEU
1985 Charles-Henri Sabet, CHE (W)
Shimon Kagan, ISR
1986 Clement Palacci, ITA (W)
Lorenzo Tizzani, ITA
1987 Bill Robertie, USA (W)
Jerry Grandell, SWE
25–17 Gerard Duguet-Grasser, FRA
Sam Hanna , USA
1988 Phillip Marmorstein, DEU (W)
Ron Rubin, USA
1989 248 Joseph Russell, USA (W)
Mika Lidov, USA
25– Jim Jacoby, USA
Evert Van Eyck, NLD
1990 217 Hal Heinrich, CAN (W)
Freddie Narboni, FRA
25– Ian McFarlane, BRA Josef Tissona, ISR
1991 234 Michael Meyburg, DEU (W)
Gerhard Mauerer, DEU
25– George Vadiakas, GRE
John Koonmen, USA
1992 234 Ion Ressu, ROU (W)
John Simon, GBR
25– Alvaro Savio, BRA Joel Silverman, USA
1993 196 Peter Jes Thomsen, DNK (W)
John Sjølin, DNK
25–23? Rageb Shadallah, USA
Irfan Mizirakci, TUR
1994 200 Frank Frigo, USA (W)
Peter Jes Thomsen, DNK
25–17 David Eshed, ISR
Bill Robertie, USA
1995 280 David Ben-Zion, ISR (W)
Josef Tissona, ISR
25–23 Frederik Reinholdsen, SWE
Ricardo Spinola, BRA
1996 185 David Nahmad, LBN (W)
Shlomo Vahab, ISR
25–24? Manfred Hollerderer, DEU
Dirk Schiemann, DEU
1997 213 Jerry Grandell, SWE (W)
Frederic Banjout, FRA
25–17 Neville Eber, ZAF
Philippe Marmorstein, DEU
1998 220 Michael Meyburg, DEU (W)
Elliot Winslow, USA
25–20 Rageb Shadallah, USA
Achim Müller, DEU
1999 231 Jørgen Granstedt, SWE (W)
Gadi Carmeli, ISR
25–10 Mario Sacchi, ITA
Mario Sequeira, PRT
2000 267 Katie Scalamandre, USA (W)
Thomas Holm, DNK
25–20 Christian Liebe-Harkort, DEU
George Vadiakas, GRC
2001 288 Jørgen Granstedt, SWE (W)
Thomas Holm, DNK
25–16 Morten Holm, DNK
Mario Kühl, DEU
2002 281 Mads Andersen, DNK (W)
Felix Ziva, ISR
25–23 Jan Bloxham, DNK
Veronika Dabul, ARG
2003 271 Jon Røyset, NOR (W)
Moshe Tissona, ISR
25–20 Dirk Schiemann, DEU
Katja Spillum, NOR
2004 276 Peter Hallberg, DNK (W)
Bob Wachtel, USA
25–22 Dag Ekmark, NOR
Serge Engelhardt, DEU
2005 238 Dennis Carlston, USA (W)
John O'Hagan, USA
25–24 Gil Davidovitz, ISR
Gerard Duruz, CHE
2006 212 Philip Vischjager, NLD (W)
Luigi Villa, ITA
25–23 Andreas Humke, DEU
Kazuhiro Shino, JPN
2007 218 Jorge Pan, ARG (W)
Alvaro Savio, BRA
25–23 Jan Jacobowitz, DEU
Richard Munitz, USA

Facts and Figures

As of 2007, the entry fee for the World Championships is €1,000, the registration fee is €235, while the prize money was €78,480, €26,160 and €13,080 respectively for the winner, runner-up and semi-finalists. Tournament entry is strictly by invitation only, and the minimum age requirement is 21.

Disregarding the Monte Carlo "European" Championships of 1976–78, below are some country, region, gender and event location statistics:



North America 21 14 14
Europe 16 14 29
Middle East 2 6 4
South America 1 1 4
Asia 0 1 1
Africa 0 0 2
Oceania 0 0 0

Monte Carlo
Las Vegas
(1967–69, 1971–75)

Issues of Contention

While there are many gaps in the results tables above, there are a few pieces of conflicting information. For example, was an event held in 1969, and was it won by the American Alice Topping? Some sources report this, yet other evidence indicates that no event was held at all. The July 1975 issue of Backgammon News reports that that year's event was recognised as the 7th World Championship, and working back, that would support the fact that no event was held in 1969 or 1970.

That same report lists the 1975 Championship as being held in Las Vegas (as does this photo taken by the late Michael "Max" Maxakuli), while other sources report the event being held in the Bahamas.

Bibliography and Further Reading

  • [Author unknown]. "The Money Game". TIME Inc 19 February 1973. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • [Author unknown]. "Winners of Major Backgammon Tournaments". Gammoned. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Bower, Chuck. "History Of Backgammon". GammOnLine August 1999. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Crane, Michael. "World Championships 2000". MindZine - Backgammon 25 July 2000. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Deyong, Lewis. "A Goombay Smash". International Backgammon News May/June 1977: 1-4.
  • Deyong, Lewis. "Early Days Of Backgammon". Ladbrokes Backgammon. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Driver, Mark. "A History Of Backgammon". GammOnLine November 2000. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Driver, Mark. "Monte Carlo Or Bust". Gammon Village 25 June 2002. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Driver, Mark. "The Backgammon Chronicles". Gammon Village 5 April 2002. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • GammonLife. "32nd World Backgammon Championships". Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Gammon Village. "Tournament Detail - 2001 World Championship". Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Gammon Village. "Tournament Detail - 2002 World Championship". Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Gammon Village. "Tournament Detail - 2003 World Championship". Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Gammon Village. "Tournament Detail - 2005 World Backgammon Championship". Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Gammon Village. "Tournament Detail - 2007 World Backgammon Championship". Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Heckert, K. "Historie - Weltmeisterschaften Backgammon". Sport Komplett. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • MindZine - Backgammon. "2000 World Championship Full Results". Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Pasternack, Joe. "The Father Of Modern Backgammon". Gammon Village 20 September 2001. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Reade, Martin and Michael Strato. "World Championship Results History". Gammon Village 7 November 2003. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  • Robertie. Bill. "Adventures In Monte Carlo". Gammon Village 1 August 2002. Retrieved 7 November 2007.

Other articles on Backgammon History

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