Interview with Tuvya Felt - 2015 New York Metro Backgammon Open Masters Champion

by Phil Simborg
27 January 2015

Tuvya Felt

y dad's friend rolling boxes to win the game against my dad. I always thought my dad was the best player until I studied the game a bit and realized he is a complete donk.

Both sides of my family are heavy into games. My cousin, Bobby Felt, was a world scrabble champion. Jake Jacobs told me stories of Bobby and Nack Ballard discussing scrabble strategy in Chicago. My other cousin is a serious bridge player, and my uncles on my mother's side are all solid chess players.

I played backgammon my whole life but was mostly shuffling checkers around until about a year ago when I started to take the game more seriously.

P: Tell us more about you, personally.

T: I am 28 years old and was born and raised in Memphis TN. Nothing too exciting, just a typical childhood. I went to college at University of Maryland and majored in criminal justice. It was at about this time that I started trading stocks which is what I do professionally now. I work for myself, set my own hours and vacation time and I make enough to cover my backgammon addiction. I augment my income by teaching backgammon to beginners on the internet with coaching and help from you and Perry. I received a Master's degree in Social Work in New York, where I lived in Manhattan for two years.

I went through a religious phase in my early 20s. At one point I was studying to become a Rabbi. I taught myself Hebrew and Aramaic in about two years. If only I could have that same dedication towards backgammon! I learned a lot of good morals, but it ultimately wasn't who I really was and I had to be true to myself at the end of the day. I try and take the good parts of religion and incorporate them into my life and backgammon game.

I have spent some time in Israel and South Africa and have traveled the US extensively. My travels have made me appreciate Memphis and the quiet peace that it offers. I don't take the freedoms I have in this country for granted.

P: You studied to become a Rabbi. Why did you stop?

T: I just realized it wasn't who I really was. Also, I do not really enjoy dealing with people so much and to be a Rabbi is to be on call 24/7 and do weddings and services etc. It would not have worked out.

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