Big Do, Ya! In Shibuya

by Jake Jacobs
10 November 2012

Jake Jacobs

Few outside Japan are aware of it, but the Japan Open is a very old event. If I read the banners correctly this was the "42nd Japan Backgammon Festival."

Whether that is an precise count or not, it is in the ballpark. I know people who played in the eighties, and the tournament was not new even then. In 1992, eight years before I first entered, a young orthodontist with an interest in the game showed up to play, and won the event. It changed his life. The Japan Backgammon League was, like backgammon organizations most places, made up of aging players. The dentist was in his early thirties, which made him a young Turk. After winning the tournament he decided the League needed fresh blood with bold ideas. The old guard didn't mind fresh blood, as long as it wasn't theirs, and so Kenji Shimodaira found himself president of the JBL.

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