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Japan emerges as a backgammon world powerhouse

10 Comments
By SoraNews24

Japan has been crowned world champion in the WBIF Online Team Championship 2020 which ran from September 2020 to January of this year.

In this tournament, teams of five from 33 countries squared off in a grueling gauntlet of 55 matches arranged in 11 best-of-five rounds. By the end of all matches on Jan 24, for the first time since 2008, the winner was the Japanese national team, consisting of Masanori Ichikawa, Hideaki Ueda, Kentaro Meijo, Kiyokazu Nishikawa, and Naoki Iketani.

▼Iketani also goes by the handle “Ipetani” and commentates the YouTube matches via an animated cat avatar.

What makes this team’s victory extra special is that none of Japan’s top players were even on it. There is said to be only 200,000 competitive backgammon players in Japan compared to a global total of 300 million — which amounts to about 0.06 percent — and yet three Japanese players can be found in the worldwide top ten: first place Masayuki “Mochy” Mochizuki, Second place Michihito “Michy” Kageyama, and Sixth Place Akiko Yazawa.

▼ Yazawa was a backgammon trailblazer as a Japanese player, female player, and even underwater player.

A little over a week after his national team victory, Ueda faced-off against Mochizuki in the Ultimate Backgammon Championship 2020 singles final. Although he lost to the number one-player, Ueda put up a strong showing and confirmed his position as a rising star of the international backgammon scene.

These elite backgammon players are welcoming others to the fold as well, saying that thanks to the convenience of online play, anyone has the potential to become the best in the world. With many Japanese workers migrating to telework where more opportunities to pick up online backgammon exist, we may be on the cusp of total Japanese domination of the game on a competitive level.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, Nikkan Sports, Japan Backgammon League

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© SoraNews24

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10 Comments
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Wining for 1 year now equals being a powerhouse? Funny definition.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wining for 1 year now equals being a powerhouse? Funny definition.

Japanese players have won four of the last 10 World Championships since 2009 and dominate the top 10 players in the world. They have been a powerhouse for a few years and are getting better.

Do you play?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I play every day. Find it helps clear my mind.

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I play every day. Find it helps clear my mind.

I agree, it's a brilliant game and I've never met a person who doesn't fall in love with it once they get to know how it works.

Unfortunately most people initially think it is unfathomable and in the realm of posh people (the finals are held in Monte Carlo), but when I lived in the Middle East everyone played it in the cafes and streets, and it was aggressive and fun.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Played Back Gammon for 60 years. Use to also play chess but I haven't played for a couple of years.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Played Back Gammon for 60 years. Use to also play chess but I haven't played for a couple of years.

I'd like to say I'd spank you at both, but you being Zichi, I'd gladly lose with honour intact.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

4 out of 10 is not a powerhouse.

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ClippetyClop

Played Back Gammon for 60 years. Use to also play chess but I haven't played for a couple of years.

I'd like to say I'd spank you at both, but you being Zichi, I'd gladly lose with honour intact.

BackGammon being a game of chance and skill. I think I win around 60% of my games. I play against the computer these days.

My infant school teacher taught us chess from 5 years.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wining for 1 year now equals being a powerhouse? Funny definition.

And later...

4 out of 10 is not a powerhouse.

You going to accept you were factually wrong?

4/10 is actually very impressive, compared to the competition of every other country in the world, and when second place for most titles has 2 out of 10.

Wild how people who don't read also can't count.

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I am fortunate to know most of the players named in the article. Three years ago I joined the Japan Backgammon Society and have played in most of their tournaments since then. Not only are they great players, they are great people as well. Although, during most of the local meetings, I am the only non-Japanese present, everyone helps me understand what's going on. I've lived in Japan 22 years and my wife is Japanese, but I understand and speak so little. So, it's a big deal to me when Mochy emails me to make sure I register for tournaments and am not left out. The JBS is actively recruiting new members. Feel free to contact me. Here's their website https://backgammon.or.jp/

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