Betfair Backgammon European Tour: Interview with Chiva Tafazzoli

Last week's much anticipated German Masters was the latest stop on the European Backgammon Tour, sponsored by Betfair. We caught up with legendary tournament director Chiva Tafazzoli for the lowdown on the most prestigious backgammon tournaments in Europe.

What is the European Backgammon Tour?

The European Backgammon Tour (EBGT) started 6 years ago, with the goal of unifying the World Backgammon Association (WBA) events in Europe and to boost cooperation between different bodies and organizations around backgammon. EBGT is the only series of backgammon tournaments which is still alive and steadily growing every year. Season VI (2012) takes place in 6 of the hottest backgammon destinations in Europe, with the winner of each stop and the top 7 players in the Point Race qualifying directly for the Grand Finale. The outlook for 2013 looks fantastic and we will be adding more stops to the Tour in countries such as Austria, Switzerland and most probably Sweden.

How was the German Masters? Any standout performances?

Germany is an important backgammon country. Back in the day, there was supremacy of 2 countries in the game, the USA and Germany. Later, other countries caught up such as Denmark, Japan and others, followed by Turkey, Greece, Israel and Iran in the modern era. Although every major city in Germany has a club and a playing structure including Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Stuttgart, there was a lack of international competitions staged in Germany. The "German Masters", held in Munich at the end of July, was the first successful attempt to bring players to Germany for a weekend of competition and fun after many years of absence.

We staged a fine event which has great potential to grow in the next few years. Twenty countries were represented by around seventy players, with the tournament culminating in the glorious victory of local matador Peter Blachian, who has been playing for over 30 years with some considerable performance. But other players from Turkey, the Netherlands, Italy and Austria also cashed at the German Masters.

Backgammon has a major live following, what are the differences between playing live an online?

Backgammon is the oldest game on the planet and is enjoyed by millions all over the world. While online gaming and software have emerged in the computer era, allowing a comfortable playing experience at any time and from any place, live backgammon adds a social component to the game. There is nothing like a real opponent, a real board, real dice and the true feeling of shaking and rolling dice over the board. On top of that, experiencing new venues, cities, countries, cultures and making friends around a common passion and socializing is a unique experience offered by the live tournament scene.

What's next for the EBGT?

Over the past 6 years, EBGT has become the biggest and richest series of tournaments worldwide. It´s the most prestigious Tour we have and constantly growing and improving. With Betfair as head-sponsor of the Tour in 2012, we combine online and offline activities with the various online qualifiers and satellites to contribute to the success and the growth of the game globally. While EBGT 2012 unifies tournaments in 6 different European countries, 2013 will expand to 8 countries and cover the most geographically relevant parts of Europe backgammon-wise. A new Point Race system will be in place, a new Grand Finale will take place, and probably a new champion will be crowned next season.

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