The 2019 Australian Backgammon Championships and Master’s was played over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th November.
34 players competed for the National Championship. There were players from New Zealand, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Newcastle and of course Sydney. The venue for the tournament was The Persian Rose Restaurant in Turramurra.
The format for the Open was Round Robin with the top two players from each group advancing to a 16-player knockout.
As is normally the case before such a big tournament there was much excitement in the room as players anticipated winning Australia’s most coveted Backgammon Competition and becoming the 2019 Australian Champion.
The Games began at 10 am. By mid-afternoon the Round Robin brawling had stopped and there were 16 players left standing. The rest were …well…defeated. It was time for the knockout, sudden death where insanity can be just one roll away, (this game is not for the feint hearted). After two rounds and 12 deaths we had four survivors. These Gladiators were Greg Mitchell from Newcastle, Habib Shalala from Sydney, Martin Sargadian also from Sydney and Pat Halpin from the Central Coast.
Martin Sargadian and Pat Halpin
Habib Shalal and Greg Mitchell
Greg overpowered Habib while Martin outmuscled Pat. The scene was set for a blockbuster match between two very fine players. They certainly did not disappoint the crowds as they fought a long and very exciting match, their experience was evident in their play. The match was very tight with Greg Mitchell coming out the victor. Congratulations Greg, you are the 2019 Australian Champion and congratulations to Runner Up Martin for putting up a hell of a fight.
The 2019 Australian Champion, and the Runner-Up
Next up was the Master’s with 11 players competing. The format was knockout with five byes in the first round. After two rounds we got the Semi-finals. The match-ups were Zvi Bendavid against Habib Shalala and Ian Dunstan playing Ron Shaked. Both these matches were very close with Habib defeating Zvi while Ian took care of Ron. Both Habib and Ian are very seasoned players. The match reached 6 away 6 away when Habib found a backgammon on a two cube to finish Ian off. A big congrats to the Masters Champion Habib and to runner up Ian.
2019 Masters Champion Habib Shalala, being congratulated by Taeed ,
And on his way to a close second, Ian Dunstan .
There are some people that deserve a big thank you or making the weekend a huge success. In no particular order, a big thanks to Taeed Athari who has made The Persian Rose Restaurant home to the Australian Open and New South Wales Open for many years without cost. Thankyou also goes to Zvi Bendavid who has donated all trophies for both these tournaments, and has done so for many years. The kind generosity from both these wonderful men has enabled me to return all entry fees as prize money. And last but not least I thank my wife Sharne Dyett for her selfless engagement in running these tournaments while I play. If not for her I would be unable to lose as often as I do. (thanks honey).
All in all, everyone I spoke to had a ball and look forward to next year.