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Backgammon has its Merit – North Cyprus Open


I used to say backgammon is not only backgammon. After attending two tournaments at Merit Park Hotel in North Cyprus, I should add to that: Tournament is not only tournament 🙂 Last Sunday, North Cyprus Open tournament ended with big success. Players were wearing smiling faces even though most of them spent lots of money. Especially Danish players tried to stay in the island more but unfortunately they had to return to make their own tournament. Still they were trying to find a way to move their tournament which is one of the world’s most prestigious backgammon tournament to this beautiful island. A simple idea flourishes in my mind: North Cyprus can be the capital of backgammon.

The success of these tournaments depends mostly on Merit Park Hotel because they take ownership of backgammon by heart and cooperate with very successful directors. The latest tournament was directed by Avraham Eytan and his team. Even though he cannot pronounce names of most backgammon players 🙂 he did a great come back to tournament world. Nostalgic players from old school and scientific players from bot school met in the Eden between two worlds. While the hotel continued its improvement attitude by dedicating a strong team and facilities, the miracle of the sum being greater than the total of parts has been revived. Paying reasonable prices for such a luxury, players kept asking when the next tournament will be. Below, I would like to present a photo and caption style review of what I personally observed during North Cyprus Open tournament. At the bottom you can see the results of the tournament.


With Gürdal Büyükgüngor and Didem Yılmaz we feel the team spirit to make Merit tournaments still better.



It is nice to see friends around the World. Together with Stepan Nuniyants (USA), Masayuki “Mochy” Mochizuki (Japan) and Victor Ashkenazi (USA) we had hard time ceasing the friendly talk and leaving the good food.



Team match against amateurs Hürriyet, Selen and Sedef with Conrad, me, and Shahab. We had more fun than the whole tournament 🙂



International scene of backgammon masters. From left to right Erhan Yenişen (Turkey) who won the Consolation of the tournament, Stepan Nuniyants (USA) 2010 winner of European Backgammon Tour, Matvey “Falafel” Natanzon (Israel) who is 2011 backgammon giant #1, Shahab Ghodzi (Iran) doctor of backgammon and #1 backgame player and Eric Mc Alpine (England) who adds squash ideas and spirit to backgammon.


Mochy’s quiz was as entertaining as it was educational. I took part as a guest speaker together with Victor Ashkenazi (USA), Falafel (Israel) and Marc Olsen (Denmark). Mochy introduced me as the best player from Turkey. Thank you Mochy, you deserved the money I gave you 🙂


A mixed group of backgammon people reflecting how heterogeneous our community is. From left to right a young promising master Onur Vurur (Turkey) who is a follower of, me having a non-alcoholic drink because I still had matches to play, a close friend Konrad Fröschl (Austria/Sweden) which I owe him a visit to Sweden, our tournament director Avraham Eytan (Israel) who made a come back to tournament world after fifteen years, and a powerful player Ian McFarlane (Brasil) who came all the way just for backgammon. At the closing party it was fun giving such a Blues Brothers kind of look.


A nice guy and good player Michael “Mik” Larsen (Denmark) won the tournament and gave a speech. He was part of the Denmark team who beat the World team in 2013.


Turkish style closing party with a belly dancer. Could we get happier? 🙂


March 12-16, 2014; Kyrenia, North Cyprus
CHAMPIONSHIP (102): 1-Michael “Mik” Larsen (Denmark), 2-Rainer Witt (Germany), 3/4-Iancho Hristov (Bulgaria) / Joel Schiff (Israel); 1C-Erhan Yenisen (Turkey), 2C-Toby Tabet (Lebanon) 3C/4C-Arda Findikoglu (Turkey) / Sevdalin Tsvetanov (Bulgaria); 1LC-Avetis Rostomyan (Armenia), 2LC-Karsten Bredahl (Denmark).
INTERMEDIATE (19): 1-Antonis Vamvakaris (Greece), 2-Jean Parizon (Germany), 3/4-Thanassis Makris (Greece) / Dmytro Korneika (Ukraine); 1LC-Carl Bommarito (USA), 2LC-Cemal Gürsel (Turkey).
SUPER JACKPOT (16): 1-Maya Peycheva (Bulgaria), 2-Christian Munk-Christensen (Denmark).
DOUBLES TOURNAMENT (44 teams): 1-Iancho Hristov (Bulgaria) & Petko Kostadinov (Bulgaria/USA), 2-Shahab Ghodsi (Iran/Norway) & Massoud Aghdam (Iran).
TEAM TOURNAMENT (22 teams): 1-Team USA Water Boys: Carl Bommarito / Doug Mayfield / Emil Mortuk, 2-Team Mystery: Michihito Kageyama (Japan) / Stepan Nuniyants (USA) / Maya Peycheva (Bulgaria).
MERIT PARK CASINO KICK-OFF (256): Sabri Büyüksoy (Turkey) / Claus Elken (Denmark) / Nodar Gagua (Russia) / Shimon Kagan (Israel).
MOCHY’S QUIZ: 1-Matvey “Falafel” Natanzon (Israel).


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