Alexis Obolensky

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Alexis Obolensky Jr.
Born(1915-04-20)April 20, 1915
DiedFebruary 8, 1986(1986-02-08) (aged 70)
Alma materUniversity of Virginia
Occupation(s)Real estate broker
Backgammon player
Jane Wheeler Irby
(m. 1939; div. 1952)

Katherine Taylor Gennett
(m. 1952, divorced)

Jacqueline Ann Stedman
(m. 1965)
FamilyObolensky family

Prince Alexis Obolensky Jr. (April 20, 1915 – February 8, 1986) was a Russian-American socialite, real estate broker, and backgammon player, and sometimes called the "father of modern backgammon". He was a member of the princely Obolensky family of the Rurik Dynasty.

Early life[edit]

Obolensky was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on April 20, 1915. He was the son of Alexey Alexandrovitch Obolensky (1883–1942) and Lubov Petrovna "Luba" (née Troubetzkoy) Obolensky (1888–1980). Among his siblings was older sister Alexandra Obolensky, the wife of Anatol Nicholas Sazonoff,[1] Princess Luba Troubetzkoy of Sea Cliff on Long Island.[2] He was a cousin of Prince Serge Obolensky, who married the American heiress Ava Alice Muriel Astor.[3]

In 1917, his family fled to Istanbul from Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution, and in the 1930s, they emigrated to the United States from France. He later attended the Kent School in Kent, Connecticut, and graduated from the University of Virginia,[4][2] where he was a member of the Virginia Glee Club and Zeta Psi.[5]


Obolensky worked as a real estate broker in the Palm Beach area, where he maintained a home.[6]

During the 1960s and 1970s, he traveled widely promoting backgammon as a gambling and tournament game. He co-founded the World Backgammon Club, an organization in Manhattan that sponsors international tournaments, serving as its president until his death.[7]

Personal life[edit]

On January 6, 1939,[8] Obolensky was married to Jane Wheeler Irby (1914–1981), a Fermata School graduate, in Aiken, who was the daughter of Robert Garland Irby, at Manassas, Virginia. They finally divorced, in April 1952, and were the parents of three children:[8]

  • Anne Obolensky
  • Alexis Obolensky Jr. (1944–1999)[9]
  • Mary Obolensky (1946–1986), who married Antony Underwood of London.[10]

On November 22, 1952, he was married to Katherine Taylor "Kappy" (née Pearce) Gennett (1919–1998), the former wife of Carter Tate Gennett and daughter of J. McAlister Pearce, in New York City.[4] His first wife later remarried to Harold Hegeler Lihme in November 1953.[11] They also divorced and in 1965, he married Jacqueline Ann Stedman (1939–2002).[12]

Obolensky died at his home in Manhattan on February 8, 1986.[2][13]


In 2018, Obolensky was elected to the Backgammon Hall of Fame.[6]

Published works[edit]

  • Obolensky, Alexis (with Ted James): Backgammon: The Action Game, Collier Books, 1969, ISBN 9780020810308


  1. ^ Ferrand, Jacques (1984). Recueil généalogique et photographique de la descendance du prince Nicolas Pétrovitch Troubetzkoy: 1828-1900 (in French). W. Troubetzkoy. pp. 141, 143. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Alexis Obolensky". The New York Times. 11 February 1986. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  3. ^ Oblensky, Prince Serge (2015). One Man In His Time: The Memoirs Of Serge Obolensky. Pickle Partners Publishing. p. 370. ISBN 9781786256539. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Mrs. Katherine P. Gennett Is Wed to Prince Obolensky". Asheville Citizen-Times. 24 November 1952. p. 16. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  5. ^ Corks and Curls. 1935. p. 139.
  6. ^ a b "Prince Alexis Obolensky – The Father of Modern Backgammon". The Gammon Press. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  7. ^ Kerr, Dale. "World Championships of Backgammon". Australian Backgammon Bulletin Board. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Mrs. Obolensky Gets Final Divorce Decree". The Palm Beach Post. 19 April 1952. p. 5. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Alexis Obolensky". Palm Beach Daily News. 28 October 1999. p. 2. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Mary Obolensky Dies". Palm Beach Daily News. 14 December 1986. p. 4. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Mrs. Jane Obolensky Weds Harold H. Lihme Sunday". The Palm Beach Post. 2 November 1953. p. 6. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  12. ^ Van Rensselaer, Charles (19 September 1971). "Being a Princess Is an On and Off Matter". The Palm Beach Post. p. 34. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  13. ^ "Prince Alexis Obolensky, 71, Dies in NYC". Palm Beach Daily News. 10 February 1986. p. 1. Retrieved 7 March 2019.