Muscovite killed after betting life on game of backgammon

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MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti) - A 35-year-old Muscovite has admitted to murdering a visitor to his flat who agreed to stake his life on a game of backgammon, Russian media have reported.

Sergei Smirnitsky was arrested in south Moscow on murder charges after reportedly knocking on his neighbor's door to ask him to help drag a corpse from his eighth-floor flat to the street. The shocked neighbor called the police instead.

"Boss, judge for yourself, how could I do otherwise?" Smirnitsky later reportedly told police. "My word is my word."

The story began when Smirnitsky and his victim-to-be, 23-year-old Vasily Lobozov, agreed to share a taxi together. During the ride, Smirnitsky invited his new acquaintance to come to his flat, and Lobozov agreed.

Upon their arrival, Lobozov noticed and remarked upon a backgammon set sitting on the shelf.

"I made that in the labor camp," said Smirnitsky, who had earlier served time for robbery. "It took me years."

"Shall we play a game?" his guest replied.

Smirnitsky, who was reportedly in a dark mood following the recent death of his brother, then informed his guest that, "With that backgammon set you can only play for dough."

When Lobozov replied that he had no money, his host answered: "Then stake your life."

Lobozov, who presumably did not take the proposal seriously, agreed, and the two men sat down to play. Fifteen minutes later, after Smirnitsky had beaten his young opponent, he went into the kitchen, chose a knife, and plunged it five times into Lobozov's neck.

"We agreed that he who lost would die," Smirnitsky told an investigator in a recorded interview posted on the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper's website, adding: "He lost."

"Didn't you feel sorry for him?" asked the investigator.

"I did," came the impassive reply.

Smirnitsky also said that although he often played backgammon and did not always win, this was the first time he had played for such high stakes.

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