Online Qualifier Sensations Dominate World's Richest Backgammon Tournament

    -  Maertens Wins Richest Prize Ever at Million

    -  Germany and Denmark are Skill Game's Superpowers

    GIBRALTAR, Jan. 30 /CNW/ - 33-year-old German Andreas Maertens is
celebrating after winning the inaugural Million at the
Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas (21st-25th January), scooping a world record
US$600,400 payout for a backgammon tournament. Maertens beat 36 year-old
Danish backgammon ace Lasse Hjorth Madsen 23-22 in a thrilling final in front
of Matchroom Sport's television cameras. Both players were online qualifiers
from in a field that featured 10 former World Champions
and 25 of the top 32 'Giants of Backgammon.' The total prize pool exceeded the
guaranteed US$1 million and hit over US$1.2 million. Maertens qualified online
for US$440, while Madsen reached the tournament from a US$35 online satellite.

    (Photo: )

    A spokesman said: "We saw the huge rise of the internet
qualifier in poker and, remarkably, at the very first attempt we have seen
online qualifiers compete and beat the world's best players at backgammon.
Like poker, the entrance of the online aces promises to change the game of
backgammon forever."
    Maertens, from Bielefeld, Germany, has form in both backgammon and poker,
winning the German Backgammon Open in 1996 and regularly playing on the poker
circuit. He was blown away by his win: "When I came here I hoped I had a
chance but never ever really thought that I could win as there were so many
strong players in the field. I'm not sure what I am going to do with the
money, I'm certainly going to play more high stakes backgammon but I am also
going to buy my girlfriend Monica a car."
    Asked what he thought of becoming a backgammon superstar from its biggest
ever tournament he said "It doesn't get much better than this. How am I going
to top this? I certainly didn't count myself as the best player here - I think
I would be in the top 100 though." This concurred with the views of bookmakers , who placed Maertens middle of the field pre-tournament
with France's Francois Tardieu and Denmark's Sander Lyloff the favourites.
    The fact that the final was Germany v Denmark didn't surprise the players
watching on the Dragon's Patio at the Atlantis Resort or even the winner,
backgammon's new superstar Maertens: "Germany and Denmark were the strongest
countries represented in terms of numbers and had excellent players. There are
more skilful individuals from other nations but in terms of quantity these
countries are the superpowers."
    Maertens built up a huge lead in the final and it seemed like his win
would be inevitable but Madsen, a Research Executive from Copenhagen, who
scooped US$144,096 for finishing runner-up, made a huge fight back and was
pragmatic about his failure to clear the final hurdle after coming back to
just one point away from victory. "In backgammon you can be almost there, then
all of a sudden far away from the winning post again, it makes the game so
thrilling. I am disappointed but I will be back to fight another day."
    A spokesman continued: "This tournament has taken
backgammon to a new level and taken a previously unknown community into the
mainstream. There were plenty of characters around from groups that enhanced
their sports betting by using a doubling cube, to Victoria Smirnoff, an
attractive Russian player who was staying in the suite James Bond occupied
during Casino Royale. One thing is for sure though, the internet qualifiers
have arrived and are here to stay." is a popular member of PartyGaming Plc's growing suite of
online games that includes,,,, and burst
on the scene in June 2006 and has quickly moved to become the favourite of
online backgammon players.


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