By David Horovitz - August 25, 2017

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

In the end, it all came down to one throw of the dice. If Itzik Yakobovitch, he of the snazzy white hat and the implausibly youthful dance moves, could manage double 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, he would be crowned Jerusalem’s first-ever backgammon champion. If not, the title would go to the gleaming scalped, Chelsea soccer shirt-wearing Gadi Carmeli.

The prize was a nifty NIS 25,000 (almost $7,000). But though that was no trifling sum for the two finalists, this tournament was emphatically not about the money. It was, rather, almost certainly the most remarkable exercise in bringing people together from wildly different worlds ever to be held in the shadow of Jerusalem’s Old City walls… involving dice.

For much of the past year, at a range of venues across this strained mosaic of a city, about 500 Jews, Christians, Muslims and who knows who else have been playing in qualifying tournaments — in the garages of Talpiot, in the YMCA, all over the Old City, in Jewish and Arab neighborhoods — bidding to secure a place in Thursday night’s final event. Read More