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Kingston International Backgammon launched at Spanish Court Hotel

Published:Friday | June 1, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer

The first annual Kingston International Backgammon Tournament was launched at the Spanish Court Hotel on Tuesday with high expectations.

The tournament, which is expected to attract over 24 of the country's top players, including back-to-back Strawberry Hill High Stakes champion Mike Hirst, Andrew Issa and Mark Mahfood, will be held at the venue on Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23.

"We are hoping to brand this a yearly event for Kingston, and will have several internationally ranked players next year to boost the tournament," said co-tournament director, Andrew Issa.

"We are excited about the prospects for this tournament as both a local and international attraction," he added.

Change in match days

Among the features of this year's tournament will be a change in the usual match days from Saturdays and Sundays to Fridays and Saturdays, which Issa says will enable greater competition and participation.

Unlike regular tournaments, players will be asked to split their full quota of preliminary-round matches over the two days of the tournament.

This, Issa reasoned, will not only ensure that there is heightened participation on both days, but will also allow for the social side of the sport to come through.

Kingston and St Andrew mayor, Angela Brown Burke, who was on hand to witness the launch, said she was happy at the emergence of the tournament and hoped it would provide a lasting legacy for the city.

"It's good to know that we have events like these with the redevelopment and repositioning of Kingston and St Andrew as an attractive tourism destination in mind," said Brown Burke.

"We wish everyone the best and hope that as of this year the tournament will grow from strength to strength."

The tournament will be sponsored by Sterling Asset Management and Coldwell Banker Jamaica Reality, with Supreme Ventures Limited, Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited, Wata, Haagen-Dazs, Rainforest Seafoods and PanMedia being associate sponsors.