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Japan is the next Denmark

Posted By: phil simborg
Date: Friday, 17 October 2014, at 1:06 a.m.

Like others, I could go on about what a wonderful tournament and experience it was to compete in the Japan Open, even though my experienced was squashed in the first round by going down to defeat to Tuvya (my joy for him "almost" made up for my disappointment in losing).

But what impressed me most about the event was the extent to which lower level players and children were encouraged to participate and given special treatment. They had a huge novice division all three days of the event; they had many children participating; and in the Backgammon Academy, which I was proud to be included as a presenter, the room was filled with young players eager to learn.

After Tokyo my son, Dan and I, along with Eric Petersen (Fatboy) and his amazing partner, Kelly, went to Kyoto with Michy as a guide for the first day, and then we were joined by a young college student, Yuki Hiroki.

Yuki studies statistics and psychology and has a job, but still spends at least 3 hours a day on XG working on his game. I played him a match on my iPad and quizzed him...he had a reasonably good understanding of take points and match equities and gammon values and his checker play was sound. He intends to make backgammon a major part of his future. He is typical of so many young people in Japan.

Under the leadership of Kenji, Mochy, Michy, Akiko and many others involved in Japan, there is great value put into encouraging and teaching new players, particularly young people

If you think Japan is a force in Backgammon now, wait until 10 years from now!

Mochy jokingly mentioned that all of the major finalists at the Japan Open were non-Japanese players. I wanted to say, "Now you know how we feel around the rest of the world when you and your friends dominate our tournaments!" We were just getting even!

The rest of the world needs to copy what Japan is doing...not because we want to be better than Japan or are afraid of their domination of the game, but because we all want to see the game grow and get more young people into the game.

I am very proud of what the USBGF has accomplished thus far, and proud to be a part of that organization that is doing so much to add to the game, but I would encourage everyone involved in the game, everywhere in the world, to put more resources into growing the game at all levels. If you love tournament play (as I do), you will see it grow simply because the game grows. Lets start there.

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