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Women's World Team Championship Teams

Seven women’s teams have registered to date to compete in Stockholm, Sweden, from 8-14 July for the title of Women’s World Backgammon Team Champions. They include Denmark (Pernille Rosendal, captain), France (Laurence Sinitzky, captain), Germany (Ingrid Sonnabend, captain), Norway (Martha Gjelseth, captain), the UK (Julia Hayward, captain), and the USA (Karen Davis, captain).

Each team includes a minimum of 3 women, with up to 3 more alternate players. The format is a Round Robin, with three players from each country playing an 11-point match against three players from each of the other countries. Match length will be increased in the final rounds.

Each country has its own team selection process. Six women were selected to compete on Women’s Team USA by virtue of their performance in the 2023 World Backgammon Internet Federation Online World Women’s Championship. Team USA members include: Karen Davis, captain, Irina Litzenberger, Leyla Zaloutskaya, Lynda Clay, Teri Harmon, and Rain Ackerman.

Profiles of Women’s Team USA

The Women’s Team captain, Karen Davis, is co-founder of the Women’s World of Backgammon, serves as Deputy General Secretary of the World Backgammon Federation, and is Chairman of the U.S. Backgammon Foundation. She was inducted into the American Backgammon Hall of Fame in 2021 and ranks in the top 64 Giants of Backgammon. She is one of four women in the world, along with Irina Litzenberger, awarded the rank of Master by the Backgammon Masters Awarding Body. She was captain of Women’s Team USA, which won the Genud Cup against the UK Women’s Team in an online competition in 2020 and 2022. She was awarded Player of the Match in 2020 and tied with Irina Litzenberger for Player of the Match in 2022.

Irina Litzenberger is one of the top women Championship players in the U.S. This year she made the Backgammon Masters Awarding Body Master Class 3, one of only four women in the world to be certified as a Master. She finished 3rd/4th in the Backgammon World Championship Ladies Event (2022). She placed second in the Cherry Blossom Women’s Cup in 2023. She won the Sunny Florida Championship Consolation (2022). She is a frequent winner of Doubles events with her husband Roberto, including Ohio (2023), Texas (2022), Michigan (2022), and Cherry Blossom (2022). She won the Battle of the Sexes event at the 2021 Las Vegas Open, the Wonder Woman event at the 2021 California State Championship, and the Old Town Open Jackpot at the 2021 Chicago Classic. She was on the USA Women’s Team that won the 2022 Genud Cup against the U.K. where she was selected by the directors as tied with Karen Davis for U.S. Player of the Event.

Leyla Zaloutskaya has a number of prestigious backgammon accomplishments. She won the 2023 5th Merit Open Montenegro Grand Prix Ladies Prize in the Masters Division and 3rd/4th in the Ladies event. She won the 2023 Cherry Blossom Women in Backgammon Cup and placed first in the Doubles event at the 2023 Atlanta Spring Classic with partner Michael Neagu (Canada). She split 1st/2nd place with Neagu in Jamaica in 2022. She won the Ladies event at the 3rd Northern Cyprus Open Backgammon Championship in Famagusta in 2019. She was a finalist to Sebastian Wilkinson on her first appearance in the top Masters division at the UK Bristol Backgammon Open in 2016. She was a finalist in the 2017 Texas State Championship.

Lynda Clay is a long-time backgammon player committed to continuous learning and improvement in her game. She placed second in the 2023 Los Angeles Open Wonder Women’s Jackpot and tied for first in the 84-player Blitz. During the pandemic, she placed in several American Backgammon Tour Online! events, including winning the 2021 Cherry Blossom Online! Saturday Night Jackpot and the 2020 Beale Street Blues Elvis and BBs Battle of the Keys. She won the 2019 Los Angeles Wonder Women Jackpot. In 2018, she was on winning Team USA, which played a Japanese team at the Chicago Open. She finished second in the Advanced division of the 2018 Texas State Championship. In 2017, she placed first in the Last Chance of the Florida State Championship and first in the Colorado State Royal Gorge Limited Jackpot. She directed the Colorado State Championship from 2016-2018 and was, for many years, the director of the Colorado Backgammon Club.

Teri Harmon learned how to play backgammon in college while on board the Semester at Sea ship that traveled around the world while the students studied and visited the countries studied. After those brief games, she only played sporadically at social gatherings. In 2017, she joined a local backgammon club that met monthly within her community and loved being reintroduced to the game. During one of the monthly games, Candace Mayeron was invited to attend and invited several members of Teri’s club to attend the California Open in L.A., which Teri attended and won the Consolation in the Beginners division. It was there that she realized what she didn’t know and needed to work on, after which she started studying, playing online, and hired a coach. She joined Women in Backgammon and Women of Backgammon clubs. Recently, she made the first Inaugural Online Women's World Championship team for the USA and just competed with the team against the U.K. in the Genud Cup – Team USA won! Teri is looking forward to improving her game and advancing within the world of backgammon.

Rain Ackerman has a love of the game, appreciating the strategy/luck combination. She improved her game during the pandemic when she got to play with wonderful backgammon enthusiasts online. She learned what fine folk are attracted to the game. She played on Team USA in the 2020 Genud Cup. She looks forward to continuing to improve, incorporating travel and camaraderie into the mix.


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