Interview of
Zoe Cunningham
Ladies World Champion 2010



Mike: Hi Zoe, thanx for agreeing to this interview.
Zoe: Hi Mike.

Mike: You have had your share of good results in the few years that you have been playing backgammon – Mind Sports Olympiad Cambridge winner 2005, 2 WSOB Satellite Finalists in 2008 and The Scope Charity Tournament Masters Flight Finalist in 2010. You’ve also made great strides in the filming and presentation of backgammon for the internet though working for WSOB, presenting Backgammon Live in London 2009 and The Nordic Open 2010. As such quite a few heads have turned your way and you’re now a know person of the backgammon world.

Over the last few years you have been very much against the holding of Ladies Tournaments in backgammon. Can you explain your reasoning for this please?
Zoe: A long time ago, women weren't able to compete with men in all kinds of events, owing to lack of schooling, in extreme cases, nutrition, and in all cases because of a lack of expectation from society. Initially, along with not having access to meaningful employment, women would simply not have competed at all. As they started to compete, the skill gap was such that it only made sense for them to compete in separate events. Nowadays, although there is still a case for separate events for some physical sports, there is certainly no need for one in backgammon. The wonderful performance of Pia Jeppesen in reaching the semi-finals in the main world championship event this year is proof enough of this. Congratulations Pia!

Mike: I agree with you that backgammon is a mindsport and that in this day and age there should be no place for such gender discrimination events. So can you now please tell us why it is that you entered the Ladies World Championships Tournament in Monte Carlo this year?

Do you not feel as if you have betrayed your principles in playing in a Ladies Tournament?
Zoe: You can get too stressed about these things :)

Mike: Did you just enter the Ladies Tournament in Monte Carlo simply because it carries the title of World Champion?
Zoe: It has always been my dream to be the Backgammon World Champion, and I confess that this year when I was offered a second chance after I'd been knocked out I took it. I have never played in a ladies'
tournament prior to this. As you say, it was sell-out time.

Mike: What sort of signal do you think your actions send out to other female players?
Zoe: I've noticed at all events that the top female players are not interested In competing in female only events. I don't expect anything I do to change that.

Mike: What sort of signal do you think your actions send out to those outside of backgammon?
Zoe: There is still an issue that not many women compete at the top level of backgammon. I think that articles such as this one, saying that women can compete at the top level on equal terms, can only be a
good thing.

Mike: Will you play in other Ladies Tournaments now?
Zoe: Nope :)

Mike: Thank you Zoe for this interview.
Zoe: Thanks Mike and thanks for all the great work you do at Backgammon in London and helping to run international tournaments.

Interview by Mike Main of Backgammon in London
Published 30th July 2010