The Million

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  1. Ellis

    Ellis Well-Known Member

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    The MillionEveryone who took part in the
    Million enjoyed themselves immensely. Players traveled from around the globe to
    the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in The Bahamas to attend the first ever
    $1 million backgammon tournament.

    Players began to arrive at the Atlantis before the event began on Sunday,
    21 January. Old adversaries greeted each other as friends as they picked u
    p their goody bags and chatted about the backgammon
    event of the year.

    The week began with welcome cocktails next to the Caribbean on the impressive
    Royal Deck. While the players relaxed, backgammon legend Kent Goulding introduced
    the Calcutta Auction, which raised over $21,000.

    A special eight-team doubles event kicked off the week’s backgammon action
    on Sunday. This extra tournament saw the lucky winners snare $40,000, while
    the rest of the field left empty-handed.

    The main flight started on Monday, with all the players hoping to collect the
    trophy and winner’s check at the end of the week. The quality of the backgammon
    was high. This came as no surprise: According to Yamin Yamin’s Giants of
    Backgammon poll, the field contained 25 of the world’s top 32 players.

    The first and second round matches were 15-point games. These threw up some
    interesting results, as experienced tournament players lost to players who had
    qualified online at

    The main flight was reduced from 128 players to 32 by the end of Monday’s play.
    The players knocked out at this stage were entered into a consolation
    tournament with a $240,160 prize pool.

    On Tuesday, rounds three and four reduced the field to just eight players.
    The matches were now 17-point games and the action was heating up. The
    eight remaining players were all in the money, and were playing hard for their
    slice of the $960,000 left in the prize pool. The consolation event also continued

    Separate jackpot tournaments were arranged in the evening, with players
    paying anything from $100 through $2,000 for the chance to win some extra cash.

    The tournament moved a step closer to the grand final as Wednesday’s play
    weeded out yet more hopefuls. The evening’s semi-finals were particularly tense
    as the $600,400 first prize preyed on the minds of the competitors. After lots of
    fraught action at the boards, 33-year-old German Andreas Märtens and 36-
    year-old Dane Lasse Hjorth Madsen nabbed a seat in the final.

    Thursday’s final between the pair, who both qualified online, was a classic.
    The excitement of the crowds thronged around the big screens in the grounds
    of the Atlantis was palpable as play started.

    Märtens looked to have secured victory when he built up a huge lead of 20-11
    in the 23-point game, but Madsen staged an incredible fightback. The research
    executive from Copenhagen clawed back to 22-22, making the last game as
    tense as could be. After a thrilling battle at the board, Märtens emerged victorious,
    claiming the world’s largest backgammon prize and becoming a backgammon superstar.

    The new Million champion, who is from Bielefeld, Germany,
    was amazed by his win. “It doesn’t get better than this. I hoped I had a
    chance, but never really thought I could win,” he said. “I’m not sure what to
    do with the money... I’m certainly going to play more high-stakes backgammon,
    but I’m also going to buy my girlfriend a car.”

    For his part, Madsen was pragmatic about missing out on the main prize by
    just one point. “In backgammon, you can be almost there, and then all of a
    sudden be far away from the winning post again. It makes the game thrilling.
    I’m disappointed, but I’ll be back.”

    A spokesman said: “Remarkably, we’ve seen online
    qualifiers beat the world’s best players at backgammon

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