Zakynthos - A Pair of Dice in Paradise

Report by Becca Thompson. Pictures by Becca Thompson and Dave Marshall

This is the second report from Zakynthos - and it isn’t referring to the one published here, they are separate events! I have published both accounts so that you, their potential customers, can make up your mind with whom to spend the next Festival.




The temperature was sizzling hot in Zakynthos, Greece and we received a warm welcome from The Peligoni Club staff: enthusiastic, hotblooded college kids all looking like they just stepped out of a Calvin Klein ad. Play began before we had even unpacked our suitcases, most of us peeling down to as little clothing as possible under the island sun.


This was to be a hugely anticipated week of great backgammon players, raucous late nights of poker, fabulous food and all the offerings of water sports you could squeeze in between matches. The week also brought with it a heat wave with the highest temperatures Greece had seen for 60 years. Eek! There were 34 players representing 14 countries - the best, most diverse turnout yet! Had the United Nations needed a summit committee for backgammon it could easily have been our group.

Amongst the gammoners were notables like Lars Trabolt, Carter Mattig, Mike Heard, John Hurst, Dan O'Farrell (Zakynthos 2006 Champ), the Godfather of televised backgammon, Andy Bell and of course our beloved but formidable host, John Clark (left). Renowned violinist and cellist Roland Herrera and Simonetta Barone joined us sans instruments though Simonetta rarely began a match without her iPod.

A few of us treated ourselves (and our bank accounts) to a break from the action to take in the local geography by boat and scooter. I especially enjoyed the natural beauty of the Blue Caves and the thermal streams of Sulphur Beach, whose mineral properties are said to rival even the best spa treatments. Irreplaceable Peligoni staff member, Sheila, was always available to play tour guide and shared some of the best kept secrets, like the whereabouts of the baby fruit bats, with us. My partner Dave and I were the only ones to give windsurfing, the signature sport of Club Peligoni, a try and I must admit we got the hang of it right away, grinning like Cheshires during a few long, wind-runs.



Late into the night, raucous poker was a real education for me, not for the faint-hearted and it was great to see a table almost entirely of women dominating the action one evening.

John Leavey was a most patient and committed coach as he ran us poker newbies through the etiquette and strategies of Texas Hold ‘Em, on a daily basis, always willing to share his knowledge.

Above: Poker

Right: John Leavey

Peligoni’s delightful owner, Ian Shearer, who always joined us in both gammon and poker graciously offered up his gorgeous sea front villa, Figari for a cocktail party one evening and I was lucky enough to get a personal tour with details on the art and specially imported Moroccan wood throughout itsmagnificent design. It was a record breaking week in several ways and most memorable for all of us. As a first-timer my gammon week at Zakynthos already holds a special place in my heart and I can hardly wait till next year! Hope you will join us.

Countries Represented in Zakynthos
Backgammon Royal Family
South Africa







Carter Mattig
Lars Trabolt
Dan O'Farrell
Hanna Nilsson
John Hurst
Andy Bell
(principality of the Isle of Man too)