USBGF at the Smithsonian Nowruz Celebration

Nowruz 005The U.S. Backgammon Federation participated at the Nowruz Persian New Year celebration at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery in Washington DC on March 16.  Each year 10,000 people attend the celebration to view the exhibits, listen to concerts, watch a Nomad dance performance, hear stories from the Shahnama, make jewelry, eat Persian food, and play Persian games. According to Jake Jacobs, the earliest record of backgammon places it in the city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia, now part of Iraq.

At the invitation of the Smithsonian, Majid Jahanbani, recent third-place finisher in the Intermediate Division of the NY Metro tournament, tapped Bill Finneran, recent finalist in the CSI Masters jackpot, to organize local backgammon players to host the event. Washington DC backgammon experts participating included in addition to Finneran,  Karen Davis, chairman of the U.S. Backgammon Federation, Giant of Backgammon Ed O’Laughlin, Frank Raposa co-director of the Northern Virginia Backgammon Club and recent winner of the Beltway Backgammon Championship, Larry Richards, and Farsi-fluent Lili Iravani. They taught and played backgammon with attendees ranging in age from 5 to 82. The backgammon and chess tables, set up at the Freer Gallery Mall entrance on Independence Avenue, were a popular first stopping place. Some game enthusiasts played for the first time. Others were masters at moving the checkers, but unfamiliar with using the doubling cube. But all loved experiencing Persian culture, traditions, and the great game of backgammon.


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