Outsmart, outplay: 3rd Baloot Championship begins in Saudi Arabia

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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
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Updated 14 February 2020

Outsmart, outplay: 3rd Baloot Championship begins in Saudi Arabia

  • 40 female groups will participate for the first time

JEDDAH: The 2020 Baloot Championship is underway in Riyadh with over 18,000 players participating. 

For the first time, 40 female groups will participate in this, the championship’s third edition, that commenced on Thursday, Feb. 13, and will continue on until Feb. 22.

Organized by the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS) and supported by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), this year’s winners will go home with SR2 million ($533,234). There are 600 judges monitoring the teams.

In 2018, the first every Baloot Championship took place under the patronage of the GEA with 2,000 participants. The winners received a prize of one million Saudi riyals.

Many apps of the popular game are available to download on Apple Store and Google Play, with over 2 million downloads. 

Believed to have been brought to the Hijazi region from Indian immigrants through trading routes during the time of the Ottoman Empire, the origins of the game could also have come from France where it’s known as “Belote” and migrated during the Ottoman Expansion in the region.

The objective of the game is to outsmart and outplay your opponent. For decades, Baloot has been one of the most popular games in the Gulf, and Saudi Arabia in particular. Men and women alike have played the game in which four players are divided into two teams, two players each. The rules are strict and straight forward. The game uses 32 cards, includes the Joker card and excludes the numbers 2 and 6. There are two systems, Hokom and San, with the latter being the strongest set.

The key component of the game is to constantly be vigilant, no speaking allowed and players must keep a poker face.
 


Saudi Arabia records highest daily number of coronavirus deaths

Updated 05 July 2020

Saudi Arabia records highest daily number of coronavirus deaths

  • 2,642 more patients recover from coronavirus disease
  • Number of active cases in Saudi Arabia now stands at 60,815

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia reported 56 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, the highest daily number since the Kingdom began recording coronavirus infections on March 2.

The death toll is now 1,858, and there were 4,128 new cases on Saturday, taking the total number to 205,929.

Of the new cases, 360 were reported in Riyadh, 315 in Dammam, 217 in Hufof and 214 in Qatif.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 143,256 after 2,642 more patients recovered from the virus.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 143,256 after 2,642 more patients recovered from the virus.

Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 11.3 million people and killed more than 530,000.

FASTFACTS

  • 205,929 - The total number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia
  • 143,256 - The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom

There are 60,815 active cases as five patients were admitted to critical care units, raising the number of patients in critical care units to 2,295.

The ministry has launched several testing centers and units across the Kingdom in an effort to relieve the need for people to visit hospitals. The drive-through testing centers, launched by insurance company Tawuniya in coordination with the ministry, have allowed people who want to get tested to be able to do so from the comfort of their car.

People can visit one of the 21 mobile testing centers spread across cities — Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah, Abha and Dammam — by booking an appointment through the Sehaty app or calling 937 and choosing a convenient time slot.

A barcode is displayed on the app once the appointment is confirmed with a message being sent with the site’s location. It is checked upon arrival by the designated organizer at the test site and again at the designated track.

A health care worker standing at least a meter away conducts an oral swab test by inserting the swab into the mouth to reach the back of the throat, a process that takes no longer than 15 seconds. The sample is securely sealed away immediately afterwards.

Test results are sent by text message between one and five days after the test. People are instructed to self-isolate and monitor their condition every day through the ministry’s Tatamman app.

There have been 52,135 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests conducted in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of tests carried out to date to more than 1.8 million. The PCR test looks for evidence that the virus is currently in someone’s body by detecting the presence of its genetic material in a swab sample taken from the nose or throat.