JEDDAH: Riyadh will host the first-ever Baloot championship from April 4 to 18, the General Sports Authority (GSA) has announced via Twitter.
The card game, similar to the French version Belote, is popular with Saudi men.
The championships will be held in the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, with the top four players receiving prize money totalling more than SR1 million ($270,000), including SR500,000 for the winner.
Aiman Turkistani from Makkah told , “The championship is a good idea and will raise spirits. Many will take part from all over the Kingdom and it will be exciting to witness people being competitive. It’s an ancient game that has been passed down from generation to generation, and this championship will gradually spread the culture of baloot to the Arab world, and maybe even further, on an international level.”
Baleegh Abdullah, a veteran Baloot player from Jeddah, expects women to take part in the championships, and also predicts the game’s popularity to grow.
“Baloot will definitely evolve through the championship. It’s a very competitive, clever game that relies on synchronicity between team members,” he said.
“Such prize money for a first-time championship is unprecedented. It was larger than expected, and I’m certain it will encourage people to develop an interest in the game.”