HONOURS were even after the opening ‘innings’ in a 10,000-mile Ashes-style clash in an ancient board game.

Teams from Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, and its namesake in New South Wales, Australia, are playing a round-robin online backgammon challenge match, traditionally played on a board with 15 checkers per player and two dice.

The Newcastle upon Tyne team, Martin Barkwill, Tim Cross, Pol Lapidakis and Gary Bratton, are pitted against Robert Disney, Mick Dyett, Michelle Taubman and Tony Walker from Newcastle, “Down Under”, each playing one member of the opposition quartet per week.

Mr Disney came up with the idea as backgammon players are restricted to online games in these days of social distancing around the world.

The challenge arose as Mr Dyett met Mr Barkwill at an international tournament and the two clubs have since stayed in touch.

Following the opening weekend the score stood at 2-2, with further information via www.northeastbackgammon.com, the website of the North-East Backgammon Association.