2022 UKBGF Youth Championship

Luca and Oliver receive their prizes from The Guest Of Honour – UK legend Joe Dwek.

As 208 UKBGF players assembled for The Backgammon Galaxy UK Open 2022, in parallel to the Warm-Up events, 16 of the UK’s finest juniors and youths came together from all parts of the UK to not only compete, but create the community that will now grow together through their respective years in the game, at the UK’s most prestigious event.

As the opening initiative of the UKBGF Junior and Youth Association, recently created by board member and tournament director Andrew Selby, he ensured an “all-expenses paid” weekend by hosting online for the Members a “Support the Juniors” event that over 100 members contributed to. This ensured all travel costs, expenses, food, and drink were paid for all who needed. Including those who likely needed it most… the watching parents!!

The wonderful bespoke trophies were titled, as a tribute to all he does for the game, The Michihito Kageyama Trophies. “Michi is a universal friend to backgammon and we are so proud to attach him to the inaugural event and, as a UKBGF Member, was my only choice!” said Andrew. Reciprocally, with customary humility and generosity, “Michi” added signed/dedicated books to the winner and an online match to play together. I am not sure which of all the prizes Luca will have been more excited to receive!

From the youngest, and incredibly talented players, Alex Thorpe (aged 9) and Emilia Jones (aged 11) to England International Oliver Squires, and recent UKBGF Tour Winner Ben Andrews – the event embodies the present and future face of all that will be good in UK Backgammon.

With parents, and many of the great and good of the adult world who were coming to now play in the main event, a “More Swiss” style event was provided – allowing everyone to play an optimum number of matches and ensure not only a fun and competitive spirit ensued, but more importantly friendships were borne. All through the day the sound of conversation and laughter deafened the more customary adult sounds, of frustration and misfortune – the demeanour and spirit of the younger generation was to set an example to us all!

By the 6th Round, four players were left with a chance to win the event. Luca Mills, as the last undefeated player, awaiting the winner from, Oliver, Ben Andrews, and Alex Hannam. Two matches later we were left with our finalists – Oliver and Luca. Played on one of our recorded and streamed tables within the main playing room – in front of some of the great and the good in our game – we ultimately had our Champion – Luca Mills.

To the victor the spoils, to the runner-up the trophy and a kindly dedicated copy of his wonderful book, the Theory of Backgammon, from Dirk Scheimann. To all the contestants some wonderful trinkets to take home, including bespoke UKBGF dice boxes from Katgammon and UKBGF personalised doubling cubes.

A huge thanks to all who made up a wonderful day for UK backgammon and, we hope, a wonderful future in the game for “tomorrows generation.”

– Andrew Selby

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