But the visiting Jet Setters were not concerned with the taxes, and some not with backgammon either. They played golf at the Lucayan Country Club (former U.S. Open Champion Craig Wood is resident pro), where the areas between fairways are like long planter boxes of palmetto and pines. In one of them Writer Jim Bishop's foursome recently lost 48 balls. They had to stop on the 17th hole. Other guests sprawled beside the thatched-roof bar at the Lucayan Beach Hotel's pool, a few yards from the ocean, and listened to Little Sparrow's steel band and sunned in the company of some incredibly beautiful women. Or, dressed in their double-breasted blue blazers, ascots, red slacks and slippers without socks, they wandered through the lobby and glanced at the backgammon on their way to the bars or the crap tables.
On what was supposed to be opening night of the tournament, the Calcutta pool and dinner party, which raised $15,425, lasted until after midnight, so the tournament was put off until the next afternoon. The draw was tough on several of the better players. Nick Sargent met and beat Johnny Crawford in the second round. M. de Surmont lost to Bassett in the third round, and Bassett lost to Sargent in the fourth. That set up the semifinals meeting of Ijams and the craggy-faced, chain-smoking Sargent, who could be called a professional at backgammon. After Ijams beat Sargent his luck seemed to be running high, and he quickly got a lead on Wacker in the finals. But the tide changes swiftly in backgammon, and in two and a half hours of play to 25 points Wacker put out Ijams 26-20. Ijams was not overcome with disappointment. "I was fortunate to beat Sargent," he said. Ijams had been worth $2,468 to the holder of his Calcutta ticket and had collected $705 for his $50 entry fee. Wacker paid off $6,170 for his Calcutta bidder and collected $1,645 from the entry fees. That put them all in the mood for Connie Dinkler's black-tie celebration party, which wound up with a daylight swim and more backgammon for stakes much richer than those of the tournament.
What is the appeal of the game? "It is a game for gentlemen and will last as long as there are gentlemen. It is a game for the Racquet Clubs, though of course not the Racquet Clubs of Miami or Palm Springs," says Mrs. Nina Thompson of Delray Beach. "It is an ancient and exciting game," said Prince Obolensky, who is already planning the Second Annual International Backgammon Tournament.
"I don't know what it is," said Jelly Wehby, who had bounced through the whole affair with the expression of someone watching grown men playing hopscotch. "It looks like what kids do, moving little deals around on that board. But it's got action, and cash passes hands. I guess I better learn it, in case they come down here again."