Inteview with Karen Davis


By Robert Stoller

Karen Davis has served as President/Executive Director of the U.S. Backgammon Federation since January 2017, having previously served as Chairman of the Board of Directors since 2010. With the approach of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the USBGF in December 2009, we asked USBGF historian Robert Stoller to interview Karen, focusing upon her experience with USBGF and her personal journey as a backgammon player. –Ed

Robert Stoller: To my surprise when I Googled “Karen Davis— health care professional”, I discovered that you have your own Wikipedia page! I had recalled from our luncheon conversation at Novi a few years ago that you had advised the Clinton White House, but I had not known that you worked in the Carter Administration as well! Could you tell us about your professional career?

Karen Davis: As an undergraduate I attended Rice University in Houston, with a double major in math and economics. I did my graduate work at Rice as well. I was awarded a doctorate in economics, and then taught for a few years as an Assistant Professor. In 1970 I moved to Washington, D.C. as a Brookings Institution Economic Policy Fellow, working for a year at the Social Security Administration in the Medicare Research office. That was followed by a six-year stint at Brookings as a Senior Fellow, writing books and articles on health economics and health financing. I spent 1974-1975 at Harvard University as a visiting lecturer in health economics.

During his presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter read my Brookings book on National Health Insurance. Once he had been elected, he invited me (in 1977) to serve as his head of health policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, and then as the director of a Public Health Service agency. The responsibilities that these jobs entailed—advising on programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program that affected the lives of millions of elderly people, children, and low-income populations in need of health care—were significant, and more gratifying than my work outside the public sector.

At the end of the Carter Administration, I took a position at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health as a Professor of Economics, chairing the Department of Health Policy and Management. In 1992, I moved to New York City—where, for the next 20 years, I headed a $700 million philanthropy, The Commonwealth Fund, devoted to financing research on improving the performance of health systems. We pioneered international surveys of health-system performance and developed innovations in the U.S. to improve the payment, quality, and delivery of health services.

Robert Stoller: When did you first learn about backgammon? What were the circumstances?

Karen Davis: I started playing in 1981 when I left the Carter Administration. I was writing a book on Medicare, and would get stir crazy from sitting at the typewriter all day and go out in the evening to play backgammon. It was the height of the backgammon craze, and the Georgetown bars in D.C. had regular backgammon tournaments. I discovered the Dupont Circle Backgammon Club, with Kent Goulding, Kit Woolsey, Ed O’Laughlin, John Klein, and other excellent players in attendance. We had frequent visitors from New York, Pittsburgh, and Richmond, including the Zaltash brothers, Dennis Culpepper, and Mike Senkiewicz. Whenever I traveled for work, I would find backgammon clubs in New York, Boston, Chicago. It was a heady time, with Goulding publishing Backgammon with the Champions and Inside Backgammon, and Woolsey writing some of his early books and articles. I learned mostly from watching and listening to chouette discussions and reading everything I could get my hands on, especially works by Woolsey, Goulding, and Robertie. I took some lessons from Goulding, and when I moved to New York, from Paul Magriel.

The attraction to me was the mathematics of backgammon. It was second nature for me to calculate probabilities, and I learned counting techniques from Jack Kissane and Kit Woolsey.

Robert Stoller: In your President’s Column in the Summer 2018 issue of PTB [Neil Kazaross cover photo], you mention taking lessons with Paul Magriel during the period 1994-1995.

How did this come about?

When, where and how did you first meet Paul?

How did the lessons proceed?

Did Professor Magriel task you with any homework assignments? If so, what can you remember about them?

Karen Davis: I moved to New York City in 1992 for professional reasons and would play at the Coterie on Madison Avenue: an exclusive club run by Louise Goldsmith. Its members included both the older generation of players like Gino Scalamandre and the young Turks like Paul Magriel, Mike Senkiewicz, Billy Horan, Jason Lester, Phil Laak, Falafel, Katie Wright, Lynn Goldsmith, and Fran Goldfarb. In addition, top European players would always visit when they came to the U.S.: for example, Gus Hansen (a Danish professional poker player and Giant of Backgammon) and Mads Andersen (also from Denmark and Backgammon World Champion in 2002)
I took lessons from Paul Magriel for two years. He was a great teacher. He was infinitely curious, and wanted records of all his matches. So in the pre-bot era some of us learned how to quickly record matches as they were played, and Magriel would give me free lessons in exchange for that work. He would keep index cards of the positions that interested him then and ask 15-20 top players what they would do and why. He kept records of how they “voted” and came to understand all the different aspects of—and arguments for—alternative plays.

We would meet for an hour on Sunday mornings at my Upper East Side apartment for lessons. He didn’t prepare in advance. We would just start playing and he would comment. I took copious notes, and at the end of our two years organized his instruction into the various beginning game, mid-game, end-game, gameplan categories, and gave him the material hoping he would turn it into another book!

Robert Stoller: On page 18 of that issue of PTB, there is a cropped photograph of Paul playing a match. The caption identifies the circumstance as having occurred during the 1984 Invitational Cup tournament directed by Kent Goulding and Bill Robertie. Sitting to Paul’s left is a young woman identified as you (the image has been cropped to reveal only the right half of your face) and the caption states that you were recording the match in exchange for a free lesson from Paul. What, if anything, can you remember about that event? What was Paul’s “standard” hourly rate or per-lesson fee at that time, to the best of your recollection? Did you have other occasions when you recorded matches for him? Did you record matches for anyone else?

Karen Davis: Paul charged $100 an hour for lessons, and as I said some were complimentary in exchange for recording. After every match he had recorded, Paul would set up and go through his match to catch any error in my recording while the rolls and plays were fresh in his mind. I remember once recording a match of his against Wilcox Snellings in Costa Rica. When we went through it afterwards, Wilcox flagged a particular alternative play of double 3s, and I was shocked to realize Paul hadn’t really considered it since he, of course, normally saw all reasonable moves. So I learned a lot by recording him, and loved doing it although it took enormous concentration to anticipate moves and be ready to record the instant they were made to keep up with the flow of the game.

Robert Stoller: What was your first tournament?

What prompted you to enter it?

Were you apprehensive at all prior to commencing your first match? If so, how did you deal with your nerves?

What do you remember most vividly about that first tournament experience—both positive and negative?

How did you do in that event?

Karen Davis: Yes, my first tournament experience hooked me on going to tournaments. Several D.C. players were going to the North American Backgammon Championship on Paradise Island in the Bahamas in 1984 so I decided to join them. It was still the glamorous jet-setting era in backgammon. I lost to a Spanish countess wearing a white silk suit! She made quite an impression on me. I finished second in the Intermediate consolation. The trophy prize was a bottle of Courvoisier resting on a carriage. I still have it!

A Washington Post reporter Rudy Maxa covered the tournament, capturing the mix of jet-setting wealthy players and the emerging mathematical students of the game.

The excitement and glamour of the event hooked me. I decided
to move up immediately to the Open division, preferring to learn by playing the best.

Robert Stoller: The U.S. Backgammon Federation:

What prompted you to become involved with the USBGF?

It appears that you have served on the USBGF Board of Directors in one capacity or another continuously since the inception of the USBGF.

Karen Davis: When the USBGF was formed in December 2009, Perry Gartner asked me if I would be willing to serve on the Board and I readily agreed. So, yes, I was a Founding Board member, initially serving as Treasurer—given my training in economics and nonprofit management (and willingness to do the work!). In September 2010, after a rocky start for the organization, I stepped up to serve as Chairman and Treasurer, with Perry as President and Executive Director. We launched the online membership system in September 2010 and were off and running.

I love backgammon, and was eager to see the game grow and thrive. I’m also a big believer in the nonprofit sector where the goal is doing what’s best for the community while being fiscally responsible and breaking even over the long haul. I had served as Chair of the Board of a nonprofit professional membership organization with 2500 members and knew how important it was to deliver valuable benefits to members in exchange for their dues in order to grow and thrive. I knew that it would take a few years to get to a breakeven position, and recognized the importance of raising seed capital from Founding Sponsors.

Robert Stoller: Relatedly, it strongly appears that you have served as a major contributor to each and every issue of PrimeTime Backgammon since the first issue appeared in the autumn of 2010. (Volume 1, Number 1 is the September-October 2010 issue.) You served as the Managing Editor from 2010-2017 and as the Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board for each and every issue. You have also contributed numerous interviews, player profiles, tournament reports, and reports on team events (e.g. Ohio vs Michigan; Maryland-Virginia-D.C. team competitions). Do you, yourself, happen to know how many articles you have penned for PTB? In addition, you have been credited with numerous photographs, and for the past several issues you have been listed on the masthead as one of four principal “staff” photographers (along with Bill Riles, Tara Mendicino and Candace Mayeron).

Karen Davis: Yes, the PrimeTime Backgammon magazine has been a labor of love since its onset. In the early months the Board of Directors of the USBGF held long monthly conference calls where we discussed the mission and goals of the organization. I’m action-oriented and after one lengthy call, I decided that we needed to do less talking and more doing. As an academic, I had authored a half dozen books and hundreds of professional journal articles. So it seemed to be an easy task to create a magazine, plan issues, ask leading backgammon authors to contribute articles, write content, engage a top-flight editor, have the magazine laid out by a production editor, post on our website, and send out notices to the membership that it was available. So I put together the inaugural September-October 2010 issue to coincide with the launch of our membership system. Matt Cohn-Geier served as Founding Editor with Bob Wachtel quickly becoming our major editor, both contributing articles and editing material from other authors. Gus Contos was our production editor using the Publisher software. As you note, I wrote most of the news and profile articles. It was laid out in “newsletter” format, with each issue about 30 pages long. Initially we issued it every two months, but switched to quarterly issues in 2016.

I also began taking photos at tournaments since they really increase the appeal of a magazine—the old “a picture is worth a thousand words” adage.

The magazine was offered as a benefit to Premium members and was instrumental in bringing the organization into the black after five years. We increased the Premium membership dues to $60 in September 2013 and the Basic to $35 with the main difference being electronic access to the magazine. Many thought it would be the death of the organization, but the magazine was appealing enough to attract Premium members, including many international members. And we haven’t had a dues increase since, while we’ve continued to add benefits such as a popular online tournament system!

We substantially enhanced the magazine’s content, expanding to about 120 pages per issue, and worked with Tara Mendicino to do the layout using Adobe InDesign professional software. She and Bill Riles also oversee the printing and distribution of the print issues.

I’m so appreciative for all the donated articles by top-flight authors who do so without compensation. We’ve had contributions from nearly all leading U.S. backgammon experts, making it a must-read for those serious about improving their game.

Marty Storer took over as Managing Editor in January 2017 when I stepped up as President/Executive Director of the organization. His amazing analytic insight (now the top-PR U.S. Grandmaster rated by the Backgammon Masters Awarding Body), as well as writing and editing skills, help make it the premier backgammon magazine today. It’s just gotten better and better over time!

This Summer 2019 issue is the 47th issue of PTB. A typical issue now has over a dozen articles, including 1-2 articles analyzing matches or some particular aspect of backgammon, columns by experts like Art Benjamin and Richard Munitz (and formerly Mary Hickey), and news, profile articles, and columns. Seventy backgammon experts have authored articles for the magazine over the decade. I’ve probably contributed close to 200 articles—but I’ve never taken the time to count!

Robert Stoller: What prompted you to launch the Cherry Blossom and the Sunny Florida ABT tournaments?

For the benefit of more recent tournament organizers and directors as well as for those members of the United States backgammon community who are thinking about possibly organizing their own tournament(s), do you have any thoughts you would care to share regarding what you have found to be “best practices” as well as “unsuccessful practices to be avoided if at all possible”?

Karen Davis: I lived in the Washington, D.C. area from 1970-1992, and then again from 2013-2017. It’s a powerhouse of a backgammon community with three clubs and many top-rated players. In the Spring of 2016, I spent six months in Vermont helping my younger grandson finish up boarding school. I got a call that the D.C. Capital Classic ABT tournament wasn’t going well and needed a new organizer. (See Ray Fogerlund, “Nation’s Capital 2016” in PTB Fall 2016). It seemed a shame that the nation’s capital wouldn’t have a first-rate tournament so I agreed to organize the 2017 Cherry Blossom Backgammon Championship. I’m a big believer in doing what I know I can do well, and recruiting others to do what I’m not good at! So I recruited Bill Riles as tournament director, and convinced local club director Barry Silliman to come back to help run it along with Jason Lee. After a year Barry was ready to step back into the TD role in 2018 and 2019, assisted by Ben Friesen, Kent Goulding, and others. Ben is ready to take over the lead role in another year.

It has also been an important venue for the USBGF—hosting the USBGF Tournament of Stars and the USBGF National Championship East. So it became part of the USBGF fund-raising strategy, attracting new Founding Sponsors to be part of the Tournament of Stars.

It’s been a joy to watch the attendance climb to 146 this year, one of the five largest on the ABT in just three short years. Organizing a tournament has a lot of moving parts that have to be done well— hotel contract, putting together a top-flight staff, using modern communication and marketing techniques, attractive website with online registration system, setting and hitting a budget, overseeing an operational plan for ensuring that everything goes smoothly, as well as the actual running of the tournament. I keep intending to draft an ABT Directors Handbook to have a repository of tournament director suggestions and practices to make it easier for new directors and organizers. So that’s still on the To Do list!

Similarly, when I retired from a full-time position at Johns Hopkins at the end of 2017 and moved to my South Florida condo, I decided to rebuild an active backgammon tournament community in South Florida. There had been successful ABT tournaments there a decade earlier under director Elayne Feinstein. Kathy Weiner had taken over, but was moving to Vegas and was unable to continue. So it seemed natural to try a new approach, building on the appeal of Florida as a sunny, vacation destination.

Robert Stoller: I had not realized until I started cataloging every time your name appears in the current issue of PTB that you have also energized the South Florida Backgammon Club as a “Prime Club”. According to the data compiled at page 98 of the Spring 2019 issue, yours is the third-largest Prime Club in the nation (behind Beltway Backgammon and Backgammon-By-The-Bay, but ahead of a whole host of long-standing, well-established clubs, including Gammon Associates (Patrick Gibson), Flint Area (Carol Joy Cole), NYC (Richard Munitz), Chicago Bar Point (Amy Trudeau), and New England (Albert Steg and Alex Zamanian).

My questions are, how did you decide to pursue that initiative, and to what do you attribute your resounding success?

Karen Davis: I’m a big believer that local clubs are the bedrock of a successful, thriving backgammon community. I started the D.C. Metro Backgammon Club in Washington, D.C. and used social media including MeetUp, Facebook, and bulk e-mails to area players. It’s a long-term investment, but attracts one or two new players at each gathering. Vinson Blanton took over as director of D.C. Metro when I moved to Florida, but I continue to pay for the MeetUp site and play at the club when I am in D.C.. We also experimented with a USBGF MeetUp site which sent out notices of local D.C. club events as well as ABT events. Those efforts have been successful in attracting anywhere from 15-25 players at weekly or bi-weekly D.C.-area tournaments. I also started a backgammon interest group at the Cosmos Club, a private social club where I stay when I am in D.C.

We had the same experience in South Florida using MeetUp, the Sunny Florida Facebook site, and a bulk e-mail service. I’ve now built up a South Florida mailing list of about 200 backgammon players (450 in all of Florida) and send out notices of meetings. I also get out the results and statistics including Player of the Year points using, typically reporting results the evening after the tournament (no matter how exhausted I am at that point!). We post photos on the Sunny Florida Facebook page. Players love the instant feedback—and it lets visitors to our MeetUp and Sunny Florida Facebook page know that we have an active, thriving community.

We now draw 16-25 players at our twice-monthly events—one in Aventura between Miami and Fort Lauderdale and one in Boca Raton between Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. Gary Koscielny and Rick Wolf have been great, running the tournaments when I’m traveling. We also plan activities with the Palm Beach chapter (run by Jason Briggs), and I attend the weekly Miami Club tournament in Coral Gables (run by Leo Bueno) when I’m in town. We make sure to promote all the South Florida backgammon events regularly.

That kind of backgammon community base has been instrumental in building attendance at our annual regional South Florida tournaments (part of the USBGF Local Club Initiative) as well as the Sunny Florida ABT event.

I believe that this type of sustained long-term activity by local clubs has been instrumental in increasing our Novice division turnout at Cherry Blossom and Sunny Florida. We had 23 Novices in the 2017 Cherry Blossom, which grew to 32 Novices/Advanced Novices in the 2018 Cherry Blossom and 42 Novices/Intermediates at the 2019 Cherry Blossom—the second largest after NY Metro in the ABT (NY Metro also uses MeetUp to grow its player base). We had 16 Novices at our 2018 Sunny Florida tournament.

We still need to experiment with attracting and retaining Novice players, and with helping them to stay engaged and become tournament players. Too often they show up at weekly or monthly tournaments, lose, and feel that they aren’t of a caliber of other players so drop out. Recently we received a suggestion to try an Mentor/Novice doubles tournament—with the Novice playing and Mentor advising on moves. That seems a keen way to help Novices learn, win some of the time, and enjoy both the social and competitive nature of the game. So that’s also on the To Do list!

Robert Stoller: Team Competitions—Ohio vs Michigan; Maryland-Virginia-D.C.

How did these events come about?

To what extent, if at all, have any of these events brought new players into ABT competitions, either live tournaments or on-line events?

Karen Davis: Regional team competitions are a great way for players to get to know other players in their area and socialize. There’s a natural competitive spirit between geographic regions. I have a home in Toledo, Ohio, which is accessible to both Michigan and Ohio players. That prompted me to start the Ohio-Michigan Team Challenge eight years ago. It uses a round-robin format of 8 players per team. The local club director serves as team captain (Carol Joy Cole for Michigan and Joe Miller for Ohio). I provide hospitality and the playing venue at my home. The Ohio players tend to come in Saturday evening for dinner and a warm-up tournament plus chouette play. The Michigan players come in on Sunday morning for brunch and the team tournament, with lots of food on hand—chili, sandwiches, fruit, vegetables.

Michigan won the first five years, but Ohio has won the last three. The 2018 Ohio-Michigan Team Challenge was a cliff-hanger. After the 8-player round robin 7-point matches, the teams were tied at 32-32. A 3-point playoff between Chris Yep (director of the Columbus OH club) and Dmitriy Obukhov (MI) decided the outcome. Dmitriy left a 1:17 shot in the bear-off of the last game, Chris hit, contained Dmitriy’s checker and won—making history. The Ohio team included Joe Miller, captain, John Baron, Ray Cifani, Karen Davis, Farhad Forudi, Mary Hickey, Mike Vasilatos, Chris Yep. The Michigan team was Carol Joy Cole (captain), Bill Calton, Paul Farah, Faris Gabbara, Ricky Griggs, Dmitriy Obukhov, John Quinn, and Jim Slomkoski.

It’s a fun day both teams look forward to each year. Socializing at my home with lots of good food creates a very different atmosphere than most tournaments. It fosters friendships, and lots of camaraderie that is good for the game.

I also supported a Maryland-Virginia-D.C. event held at the restaurant where the Beltway monthly tournaments were held. It ended when the restaurant closed and the club switched venues. As I had hoped, it was also a fun event, forging great relationships among area clubs and players.

I also organized a competition between the Cosmos Club backgammon club in Washington, D.C. and the Metropolitan Club this year. The Metropolitan Club has 70 members in its backgammon interest group compared with about a dozen at the Cosmos Club. We put up a valiant effort—but lost! One of the future challenges is getting more private social club players engaged in ABT tournament play. We had several at the 2018 and 2019 Cherry Blossom, so it’s beginning to take form.

Robert Stoller: You’ve enjoyed some success at backgammon in the last few years. As of the end of November 2018, you had earned 26.00 ABT points, raising your lifetime ABT points total to 107.53—thereby moving you up to 49th place on the ABT’s all-time leader-board. Only 45 players had broken the 100-point (lifetime) barrier.

Hall of Fame inductees who were trailing you on the ABT’s all-time leader-board as
of that juncture were:
» CJC—#50/ 103.33 life-time ABT points
» Howard Markowitz—#58/ 93.56
» Bill Robertie—#81/ 68.11
» Joe Sylvester—#110/ 54.23
» X-22—#199/ 32.71
» KG—#230/ 29.19
» Nack—#420/ 17.03

HOFers who exceeded you as of 11-27-2018 were:
» Neil—#1/ 577.14
» Ray—#2/ 555.64
» Ed O’—#3/311.91
» Malcolm—#6/ 264.76 [note—Steve Sax had not yet been inducted] » Kit—#14/ 182.10
» Senk—#18/ 154.66
» Joe Russell—#19/ 154.61
» Walter Trice—#23/ 146.53

My question is: To what do you attribute your recent ABT “breakthrough”?

Karen Davis: I’ve found a little more time to work on my game since retiring from my full-time professional position at the end of 2017. I’ve taken lessons from Marty Storer, and participated in Backgammon Masters Awarding Body events, gradually working my way up to my current Masters Class 2 rating. I’ve enjoyed reading Michy Kageyama’s new books, and have reread some of the classics.


4TH MERIT OPEN MONTENEGRO Karen enjoyed learning ideas for tournament organization from the superbly organized Merit Open Montenegro.

This year it was a particular thrill to be selected as a member of Team USA in the World Team Championships at the 4th Merit Open Montenegro. I certainly wasn’t the strongest member of the team but did pull off the best win-loss record and finished 3rd/4th in the Ladies Tournament in the Merit Open. I had all my matches recorded by Mate Feher, even managing one match with a PR under 2!

2018 was definitely a good year for me across the board. In addition to finishing #9 in ABT points (#49 in All-time ABT Points), I ranked #3 in USBGF National Master Points (#6 in Lifetime), and rank #2 in Lifetime USBGF Online Master Points.

Perhaps the biggest thrill was winning the NY Metropolitan Open Super Jackpot in 2019, playing Sebastian Wilkinson the top-ranked BMAB British payer and Giant #30.

Recent wins include:

2019—1st Super Jackpot, NY Metropolitan Open; 1st Consolation, Ohio; 3rd/4th Ladies Tournament, 4th Merit Open Montenegro Grand Prix International Backgammon Championship; 1st BMABUSA #10 at the Cherry Blossom; 1st (tied) After-tournament tourney, Chicago Open.

2018—2nd ProAm Texas (with Kit Woolsey); 1st Consolation, Texas; Ohio Masters Jackpot 2nd; US Open 3rd Consolation; Atlanta, 1st Consolation; Chicago Open, tied for 4th in Swiss format.

2017—1st in Montreal Open Masters Jackpot; finalist in Masters Jackpot and 2nd in Consolation at Ohio State; 1st Consolation at NY Metro; 2nd in Pro-Am Doubles (with Kit Woolsey) at Texas; 1st in Doubles and 1st Tie in BMAB (with 4.6 PR) at Michigan; 1st in Older & Wiser Senior event at Silicon Valley.

Robert Stoller: Mentoring Stephen Collins

I notice that you won the Michigan doubles in 2017 with your grandson Stephen Collins. Has this effort also encouraged any of Stephen’s friends/schoolmates to get into backgammon?

Karen Davis: Stephen (21) is a great doubles partner for me. He’s a very spatial-visual player, and I’m more mathematically oriented. So the combination is great. He also came in 2nd in doubles with Tuvya Felt in Carolina in 2014, and we came in second in doubles at Carolina 2015. He’s played off and on at ABT tournaments since he was 13, finishing 1st or 2nd in the Novice or Junior division at 2011 Chicago Open, 2011 Florida, 2012 NY Metro, 2012 Pittsburgh, 2012 Ohio, and 3rd in Charlotte NC in 2013
But he’s really more into outdoors active sports—skateboarding is his current love, along with surfing, water skiing, snowboarding.

Backgammon has provided a time for us to travel together, enjoy each other’s company, and have fun. He’s lived with me except when he’s been away to school since his mother (my daughter) passed away from breast cancer in December 2010. His brother David (23) lives with his dad and stepmother and her children at our family home in Toledo where he studies engineering at the University of Toledo. He goes with me to backgammon tournaments in New York and Chicago—but he spends his time exploring big city attractions! When he was a teenager, I took him to Magic the Gathering tournaments and was stunned to see thousands of young men playing the game. It has an Elo system, streamed matches, and many features in common with backgammon—but clearly has found a way to appeal to youth that we’ve yet to unearth in backgammon.

Robert Stoller: Do you have any unrealized goals in backgammon that you still hope to achieve?

Karen Davis: The big one is ensuring the long-term viability of the USBGF and a smooth transition to new leadership. In my view the organization would benefit from someone at the helm who is younger, savvy with the latest technology, and has the time, energy, and enthusiasm to take the organization to a new level of performance.

Robert Stoller: Is there anything else you would like to discuss or comment upon that I have not already asked about?

Karen Davis: It’s been an extraordinary opportunity to have had a leadership role in shaping USBGF policies and ensuring their execution over the last decade. It’s an amazing organization that has benefitted in innumerable ways from the contributions of members, volunteers, staff, directors, and sponsors. Thanks to you for serving as our historian and ensuring we have a record of this remarkable period of our history. We can all share with pride in the record of accomplishment in its first decade. Here’s to an even more exciting future! 



Robert Stoller is the USBGF historian, a post he has earned through his prodigious knowledge of the history of backgammon. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he served as Assistant Attorney General for the state of Alaska.

He is an enthusiastic and generous supporter of the USBGF with a passion for ensuring that video interviews of inductees in the American Hall of Fame are recorded for posterity. He has overseen video productions of the American Backgammon Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in 2015 and 2016, and interviewed on videotape many of the inductees, using skills honed in his illustrious legal career.

He is a USBGF Diamond Founding Sponsor and Prime Benefactor. He is a co-founder of the Anchorage Backgammon Club, and has recruited fellow members of his Alaska backgammon club to become USBGF members.