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Armstrong tops Jamaica Inn Backgammon Open

Published:Monday | June 5, 2023 | 1:22 AMAinsley Walters/Gleaner Writer
Adrian Armstrong (left) beams as he accepts his US$2,500 first-prize cheque from Eric Morrow, Chairman, Jamaica Inn Foundation, at Saturday night’s awards ceremony of the Sixth Annual Jamaica Inn Backgammon Open.
Adrian Armstrong (left) beams as he accepts his US$2,500 first-prize cheque from Eric Morrow, Chairman, Jamaica Inn Foundation, at Saturday night’s awards ceremony of the Sixth Annual Jamaica Inn Backgammon Open.

AN elated Adrian Armstrong declared himself ready to defend his first Jamaica Inn Backgammon Open title after emerging champion at the weekend among 32 players at the sixth annual tournament in Ocho Rios, St Ann.

Montegonian Armstrong scooped the US$2,500 first prize as well as a three-night stay at tournament host Jamaica Inn, in addition to a Black and Gold VVIP card, courtesy of sponsor VIP Attractions.

First through third place all won backgammon boards, Joey Issa bagging US$1,000 as runner-up plus a two-night stay at Jamaica Inn and a Black and Gold VVIP card. Jonathan Todd pocketed US$750 for third spot.

Laden with other prizes from sponsors that had to be presented in more than one go, Armstrong hailed the sportsmanship of fellow competitors who encouraged him in his push to the title.

“I want to thank everybody who supported me,” he said. “It was a wonderful tournament. Now that I have won my first title, it’s going to be hard for anyone to take it away.

“I will be back next year to defend my title,” Armstrong declared to cheers from fellow players, sponsors, and supporters of the tournament, which also offered prizes for seeded and non-seeded winners during Friday’s warm-up tournament.

Knolly Moses, director, Jamaica Backgammon Association, said the Jamaica Inn Open will be followed by the September 28 to October 2 Jamaica International Backgammon Championship at Joey Issa’s Bamboo Blu Restaurant in Mammee Bay Estate, St Ann.

“Bamboo Blu will be hosting the Jamaica International Backgammon Championship, which is in its second year,” Moses said, adding that backgammon is “a niche sport but growing in popularity”.

“A lot more young people are entering the sport, mainly because they grow up seeing their parents and other family members playing,” said Moses, who has been playing the 5,000-year-old board game for approximately 50 years.

Inviting interested persons to take up the sport, which he described as being closest to ludo but more strategic, “though not as complex as chess”, Moses pointed to Chez Maria Restaurant on Barbican Road in St Andrew as a good spot to learn the ropes on Tuesday nights.

Similar to the annual Swim to the Sanctuary staged by the Jamaica Inn Foundation, proceeds from the Jamaica Inn Backgammon Open will benefit the White River Fish Sanctuary - a ‘no-fishing’ zone of 370 acres, covering approximately three and a half miles of coastline from St Ann to St Mary - established five years ago by the foundation in tandem with the area’s fishers’ association.