The ultimate international challenge, The Magriel Cup 2020

It’s been a significant ambition to hold a UK / US team match. However, for a real-world event you need an awful lot of backgammon to make the travelling – and the jet-lag – worthwhile. In a way it was therefore helpful that the virus intervened and got various people into organising online events. We still have a big time difference to contend with, but that’s a small issue for those of us who are familiar with long sessions stretching into the night!

So, the weekend of August 7th – 9th will see the inaugural Magriel Cup played. We have two awesomely strong 12-person teams facing off against each other:

Team UK

Simon Barget, Aref Alipour, Chris Bray, Chris Rogers, Jon Barnes, Charles Hill, Lawrence Powell, Oliver Squire, Andrew Fotiadis, Tim Cross, Gaz Owen, Brian Lever

Team USA

Joe Russell, Dennis Culpepper, Karen Davis, Victor Ashkenazi, Matt Cohn-Geier, Steve Sax, Bob Wachtel, Neil Kazaross, Roberto Litzenberger, Chris Trencher, Marty Storer and Dmitriy Obukhov

The format is designed to be truly demanding – rather like the Ryder Cup in golf, our teams will be put through their paces in a variety of different ways over the course of three solid days of play.

Day 1: Speedgammon

Three rounds of seven-pointers, with nine of the squad playing each round (everyone has to appear at least once); 2 points for a win, 1 point for better PR in each match. 81 points up for grabs.

Day 1: One-Pointers

Three rounds, in which each fixture consists of five one-pointers. 2 points for you if you win the majority of the games in each match; 1 point if you have the better PR in the majority of the games. Again, nine of the squad play each round; 81 points up for grabs.

Day 2: Team play

In this twist to the usual format, the teams split into three sub-teams of four each, and play a round-robin of three-person 11-point team matches. This gives the captains some difficult decisions. Do you put your on-form players together to make up a super-strong sub-team, at the risk of the others being outplayed, or spread them thinly and risk losing across the board? After all, two 2-1 victories score a lot better than a 3-0 and a 1-2 loss. What will the other side do and does it affect your choices? 3 points for a sub-team victory, 2 for each individual match and 1 for each individual PR win makes 108 points available today.

Day 3: Singles

Everyone gets out on the course three times in 11-pointers for the big finish. Three points for a win and one for a PR win – 144 in total.

So, PR is an important consideration but at each stage, we’re playing to win! With more points available on the final day, we expect the match to be competitive until the very end.

Games will be played on Backgammon Galaxy and will be available to watch; in addition there will be live streams and commentary from an expert team of Joe Russell, Steve Sax, Simon Barget and Justin Nowell. We’ll be putting links out on Twitter and Facebook when we have them – they should be great matches to watch, and we hope you’ll be rooting for us!


Select your currency
EUR Euro