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Grandmaster Title Awarded to Falafel

Posted By: Rick Janowski
Date: Tuesday, 5 April 2016, at 8:00 p.m.


I have great pleasure in announcing that “Falafel” Natanzon has been awarded the title of Grandmaster by virtue of his excellent streamed match performances at American Backgammon Tour (ABT) tournaments and the Nordic Open in Denmark over the last eighteen months. Falafel achieved the title of Grandmaster (Class 2) with a superb aggregate PR of 3.31, whilst meeting the experience threshold requirement for this grade.

Michael Natanzon, better known by his pseudonym “Falafel” was born in Russia in 1969, and moved to Israel with his mother in 1972, before they moved to New York in the 1980s. After graduating with a degree in accounting, he became a chess and then backgammon hustler based at Washington Square Park, Manhattan, and its thriving games playing scene. For a period of months, he was homeless, sleeping in the park, whilst playing chess for low stakes, he only ate falafel, which gave him his famous nickname.

His most notable tournament victories include the main events in Flint (2003), Las Vegas (2006) and Portugal (2008). He won the Masters events in Paris (2008), Chicago (2011), Pittsburgh (2012) and the High Roller in New York (2016). He also won Super Jackpots in Cannes (2006) and at the French Open (2008).

In 2001, he was voted onto the 32 Giants List for the first time and has remained in the list ever since, reaching #1 on two occasions (2007 and 2011). In 2010 he was selected for the World vs. Denmark in the inaugural event and has been a member in every year since except 2015. He also captained the American Team in the World vs USA event in 2016. His GridGammon nickname is “fanar”.

Congratulations to Falafel who through his excellent performances has deservedly reached Grandmaster level joining twenty-six other great players who have previously reached this level!

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