PrimeTime Backgammon, Mar-Apr

MARCH-APRIL ISSUE
OF PRIMETIME BACKGAMMON 

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We are delighted, in this content-packed issue of PrimeTime Backgammon, to welcome two distinguished new authors to our galaxy of member-contributors. First Ray Fogerlund, three-time winner of the American Backgammon Tour and highest ABT annual point winner, lets readers inside his head to see how he conceived, executed, and almost successfully pulled off a daring game plan against world champion Mochy Mochizuki in the Dual-Duel event at the Texas Backgammon Championships. Then Jason Pack, a foreign-affairs expert who has written for (among others) the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, describes the game-theoretic strategy used by Slava Pryadkin in winning the 2013 Backgammon World Championship over former champion Lars Trabolt.

The excitement and buzz of first-class tournament play is attracting a growing field of entrants and world-wide streaming audiences. In this issue Steve Sax submits reports on two major events: the Texas Backgammon Championships and December’s California State Championships. From our foreign desk, the fine Turkish player Sabri Büyüksoy fills us in on the action in Cyprus, where several organizers have recently run very well-attended and successful tournaments, and provides a stunning pictorial album of the ISTAVDER 6th Anniversary Festival in Turkey. And I report, in prose and photos, on the New York Metro Open — where players from 10 countries converged at the beginning of the New Year to compete for Statue of Liberty trophies.

On the organizational front, Scott Butki, director of the Austin Backgammon Club, shares with us his approach to nurturing a local club. Scott, as a journalist and special education teacher, has received a wealth of on-the-job training in patience and persistence — qualities that he has put to good use in turning out his club members in force to enter this year’s Texas Backgammon Championships.

With its new President Bill Riles at the helm, the U.S. Backgammon Federation is thriving. Phil Simborg’s candid interview reveals what makes Bill such an effective leader. And speaking of leaders, the results of the first web-enabled, member-wide election of seats on the USBGF Board of Directors are in. Dorn Bishop and Neil Kazaross won seats on the Board, with Karen Davis, Patrick Gibson, and Richard Munitz coming back for second terms.

There’s much more — see especially the profile of Jamie Rosen, at age 14 the youngest participant in the NY Metropolitan Open event, and the feature on the Director’s Cup II online tournament winner Greg Kurrell.

Check out the live and online tournament rankings, and as Bill Riles says: Get in the Game!

[Read more...]

PrimeTime Backgammon, Jan-Feb

JANUARY-FEBRUARY ISSUE
OF PRIMETIME BACKGAMMON

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Perennial winner, larger-than-life giant, and unfailingly courteous gentleman Malcolm Davis is featured on the cover of the January-February 2014 issue of PrimeTime Backgammon. Malcolm has amassed numerous trophies over the last 20 years, from the 1993 Illinois State Championship to most recently the Masters Jackpot at the 1st Capital Classic in Washington DC in November. He stands at #3 on the All-Time American Backgammon Tour, a testament to his assiduous recording and study of his game.

This issue of PrimeTime Backgammon features the newest offering on the U.S. Backgammon Federation online tournament circuit – the USBGF Team Championship won by a team of California players naming themselves Scared Hitless. Marty Storer, the USBGF Special Editor for Annotated Matches, analyzes key positions in the finals round. The online tournaments have become hugely popular as backgammon players from around the world compete for fame and the thrill of playing highly competitive matches with skilled players.

But live tournaments continue to trump online play, as the sight and sound of backgammon in action and camaraderie continue to captivate. Karen Davis covers the 1st Capital Classic in the Washington DC area. Ben Friesen gives a collegiate competitor’s candid take on his match with Japan’s top young player Yuri Hiroki in the U.S.-Japan Youth Challenge Match in Las Vegas.

There’s lots in this issue for players of all levels. Raymond Kershaw from the UK presents examples of the Kauder Paradox, when it is correct to double at negative equity and it is correct to beaver!

Ken Larsen, director of the Durham-Chapel Hill Backgammon Club in North Carolina offers some thought-provoking ideas on a new way to rate top players based on points won per event entered. Phil Simborg, USBGF Education Adviser and lecturer extraordinaire, shares a sample of his USBGF teaching videos. Phil has created over 100 videos thus far, and all can be viewed on the USBGF website. And much more – see especially the profiles of online monthly circuit tournament winners Maya Peycheva and Harvey Gillis.

We salute the 8 local clubs that achieved Prime Club status in 2013 with USBGF members ranging from 10 in the Austin Backgammon Club to 34 in the Los Angeles area Gammon Associates.

USBGF President Bill Riles issues a call for volunteering on the part of members to help our member-run organization achieve its potential. Check it out, and as Bill says, Get in the Game!

Also check out the latest live and online Leader Boards. Get your name on the marquee by playing in the many USBGF online tournament offerings, or the upcoming American Backgammon Tour live events listed in the magazine.

You’ll find that PrimeTime Backgammon has features attuned to the interests of our entire membership, offering more and more ways to enhance your playing experience. You won’t want to miss out on all the great action.

[Read more...]

PrimeTime Backgammon, Nov-Dec

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER ISSUE
OF PRIMETIME BACKGAMMON 

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There’s something for everyone in the latest November-December issue of PrimeTime Backgammon. Mike Mannon has joined the list of exemplar backgammon analysts and authors in writing for the magazine. His column on “Using the Opening Move to Figure Out a Reply” illustrates how much failing to get the opening move affects play. We look forward to more interesting columns from Mike.

This issue features an article, “Home Field Advantage: The Comic Book, Episode II,” by USBGF Editor Bob Wachtel featuring Jeremy Bagai’s capture of the 2012 USBGF National Championship over Ed O’Laughlin. The fickle finger of fate is often a determining factor when two top-rated players face off.

Sabri Buyuksoy who just joined as a regular contributor to PrimeTime Backgammon in the last issue follows up with highlights from the Georgia Open. This feature is tailored to the interests of the growing international membership of the U.S. Backgammon Federation.

And from the heartland, Linda Rockwell reports on the 2013 Illinois State Championships, with an all-female staff that knows how to Take Time for Fun at this Halloween-themed tournament.

With this issue, we’ve started a new feature focused on local clubs with an article by Ken Larsen, director of the Durham/Chapel Hill Backgammon Club, founded in 2008. Ken shares his ideas for using point systems to stir the competitive juices of his members and motivate them to learn more about the game.

Phil Simborg, USBGF Education Adviser and lecturer extraordinaire, shares a sample of his USBGF teaching videos. Phil has created over 100 videos thus far, and all can be viewed on the USBGF website.

USBGF President Bill Riles outlines his Priorities and Plans and announces a new President’s Membership Challenge. He will give a new USBGF Crisloid backgammon board valued at $300 to the member who signs up the most new members between December 1, 2013 and February 28, 2014. He has set a goal of attracting 100 new members through this initiative, and will upgrade his Founding Sponsorship to the Gold level if we meet the challenge he has set. If you didn’t see it, check out the great article on Bill that ran recently in the Houston Chronicle.

There’s much more – profiles of online monthly circuit tournament winners Charles Raichle and Gerard Jendras, as well as a profile of one of the newest backgammon converts, Kevin Helton, who got introduced to the game in its birthplace during his tour of duty in Iraq with the Army Corps of Engineers.

You’ll find that PrimeTime Backgammon has features and news attuned to the interests of our entire membership, offering more and more ways to enhance your playing experience. Also check out the latest live and online Leader Boards. You won’t want to miss out on all the great action. If you’re not yet a member or your membership has lapsed, be sure to join or renew now and get set for what’s to come!

[Read more...]

PrimeTime Backgammon, Sept-Oct 2013

SPECIAL THIRD ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
OF PRIMETIME BACKGAMMON 

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We’re delighted to share with you this special Third Anniversary issue of PrimeTime Backgammon – now available to all members and website registered guests as a complimentary introduction to the brand-new design. Tara Mendicino, USBGF Director of Communications and member of the Board of Directors, has used cutting-edge software to give the magazine a new look with exciting features. We welcome your suggestions and feedback!

The issue features world champion Masayuki (Mochy) Mochizuki, not only a great player but outstanding lecturer and ambassador for backgammon. Marty Storer analyzes key positions from Mochy’s matches with Neil Kazaross and Matt-Cohn Geier on his way to winning the 33rd Chicago Open Championship. The article includes insightful commentary from Mochy and Neil on key positions as well. The introductory profile of Mochy captures his meteoric rise to Super Star and Super Ambassador status!

Bob Wachtel captures the glamour and high drama of the 38th World Backgammon Championship in Monte Carlo where the suave Ukranian (and Monte Carlo resident), Vyacheslav “Slava” Pryadkin generated excitement around the world as avid backgammon players watched his streamed finals match against 2008 World Backgammon Champion and 2009 runner-up, Lars Trabolt (“Trabi”) of Denmark. Watch the embedded video by Martha Ghio capturing Slava’s acceptance of the trophy.

We’re pleased to welcome Sabri Büyüksoy as a regular contributor to PrimeTime Backgammon, starting with his article in this issue on highlights of the Cannes Summer Cup and breathtakingly beautiful photos.

Phil Simborg, USBGF Education Adviser and lecturer extraordinaire, shares his lecture at the LA Open in June, “Playing from Behind.” After giving the Sunday morning lecture, he then went on to demonstrate the key concepts by coming from behind to win a semi-final match with Matt Cohn- Geier, after being down 9-2 in a match to 11. Malcolm Davis, however, handily went on to win the event.

There’s much more – profiles of online tournament winners Adam Versaw, Mario Savan, and Eva Zizkova, plus news updates on the recent 10th Carolina Invitational tournament and announcement of the launch of the 3rd International Backgammon Championship.

Also check out the latest live and online Leader Boards. Get your name on the marquee by playing in the many USBGF online tournament offerings, or the upcoming American Backgammon Tour live events listed in the magazine.

The issue includes a recent news release announcing the appointment of Bill Riles as the new President and Executive Director of the Federation and his plans for the future. Outgoing-President Perry Gartner and Board of Directors Chairman Karen Davis share highlights of the first three years of the organization.

You’ll find that PrimeTime Backgammon has features and news attuned to the interests of our entire membership, offering more and more ways to enhance your playing experience. You won’t want to miss out on all the great action. If you’re not yet a member or your membership has lapsed, be sure to join or renew now and get set for what’s to come!

Download the latest issue here: PrimeTime Backgammon Sept-Oct 2013
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If you would like to print the current version of our magazine, download the print version here: PrimeTime Backgammon Sept-Oct 2013 – Print Version

Learning from the Young

Ben Friesen

Ben Friesen (photo by Karen Davis)

Stepan Nuniyants

Stepan Nuniyants, winner of the Super-32 in L.A. (photo by Steve Sax)

Youth players, attracted to backgammon during their student years and playing in USBGF online collegiate events, are making their mark on the backgammon scene. Take a Quiz prepared by noted backgammon author, winner, and Indiana University collegiate backgammon coach Chuck Bower in the current July-August issue of PrimeTime Backgammon. The Quiz is constructed from positions that arose in a USBGF online match between Ben Friesen, a student at the University of Michigan-Flint, and Ben Cousins, an undergraduate at Clemson, now studying at Georgia Tech. Chuck shows how tweaking the player’s and opponent’s boards just slightly may alter the choice of play.

Ben Friesen won the first individual USBGF U.S. Collegiate Backgammon Championship this year in an exciting finale against Michael Zakrajsek from the University of Texas-Austin. Northwestern won the team championship with David Presser, Michael Harper, and Daniel Learner. Harvey Mudd College, last year’s team winner, tied for second with the University of South Carolina. A parallel international event for students abroad was won by Agamir Gevorkyan from Russia with Junichi Kieda from Japan placing second. Ben Friesen will be playing an exhibition Youth match with a top Japanese student player at an ABT tournament this fall.

Dmitriy Obukhov, another impressive young player who has catapulted to the top ranks of live and online tournament play, and Paul Weaver probe the intricate relationship between the match score and how best to play an opening 64. Extensive rollouts show when running, splitting, or pointing is best at various match scores.

Two players who got the backgammon bug during their college years, and then set it aside for a decade or so as they focused on family and career, are making headlines in USBGF online events. See player profiles of Bruce Farquhar, a Canadian-Scotsman, who won the USBGF February 2013 online monthly circuit event, and Jim Stutz, who won the 1st Director’s Cup. Learn how they got hooked on the game, and how they have honed their skills in recent years with bots and online tournament play.

But old hands aren’t out of it yet, Steve Sax shows that “experience still rules” at the 2013 L.A. Open. In Michigan, however, many new faces appeared in the winner’s circle, despite an excellent turn-out of Giants of Backgammon, as Karen Davis reports in her article on the tournament, Everyone a Winner!

Check out the latest USBGF Online Leader Board, with the top-ten ranked players by Elo rating, win-loss records, and USBGF online tournaments won. If you haven’t played in an online tourney yet, sign up now for fun and fame. And it’s not too late to enter a three-person team to play in the USBGF Club Team Championship.

We encourage players in live ABT tournaments at every level to check out their ratings and stats on the complete USBGF Player Standings list, and the updated Leader Board prepared by Barry Silliman, USBGF Rankings Editor, with ABT rankings as of July 1, 2013, and USBGF Elo ratings for Open, Advanced, and Novice divisions based on ABT/USBGF tournament play since 2009 through July 1, 2013.

If you’re not yet a member of USBGF, or your membership has expired, sign up now and join the fun. You’ll enhance your playing experience—and enjoy this  70-page action-packed issue of PrimeTime Backgammon.

PrimeTime Backgammon, July-August 2013

Vadim & Stepan Nuniyants, Carol Joy Cole

Vadim (left) & Stepan Nuniyants, Open Doubles champions, with Tournament Director Carol Joy Cole (photo by Karen Davis)

 

Howard Markowitz

Howard Markowitz faces Herb Roman at the L.A. Open

The U.S. Backgammon Federation presents the July-August 2013 issue of its bi-monthly electronic magazine, PrimeTime Backgammon. In it, you’ll find articles by leading backgammon players and authors.

Selected contents include:

  • Chuck Bower—USBGF Collegiate Championship Quiz
  • Steve Sax—Experience Rules at the 2013 L.A. Open
  • Dmitriy Obukhov and Paul Weaver—Opening 64 in a Seven-Point Match
  • Player Profile—Bruce Farquhar: Scottish Sportsman
  • Player Profile—Jim Stutz: Winner of the USBGF Director’s Cup
  • Karen Davis—Everyone a Winner! Michigan Sumer Backgammon Championships

USBGF News:

  • Perry Gartner—Changes in USBGF Benefits and Dues
  • Barry Silliman—The Leading U.S. Players
  • Tara Mendicino—USBGF Online Leader Board
  • Founding Sponsors
  • Upcoming U.S. Backgammon Events
  • Tournament Results (May 1–July 8, 2013)
  • Perry Gartner—Update on the U.S. Backgammon Federation
  • USBGF Club Team Championship

This issue of PrimeTime Backgammon, and other analytic articles, are restricted to Premium, Youth, and Founding Sponsor members. Join now, and you’ll enhance your playing experience—and have more fun! For those of you who have joined, again, many thanks for your confidence in us, and enjoy this 70-page action-packed, fun-filled issue.

PrimeTime Backgammon, May-June 2013

The U.S. Backgammon Federation presents the May-June 2013 issue of its bi-monthly electronic magazine, PrimeTime Backgammon. In it, you’ll find articles by leading backgammon players and authors.

John Klein

John Klein, winner of the December 2012 USBGF Online Circuit (photo by Karen Davis)

Selected contents include:

  • Marty Storer and Jason Lee—USBGF Members vs. Neil Kazaross: Online Match #1
  • Paul Weaver—Denmark vs. the World 2013
  • Kit Woolsey—To Double or Not to Double
  • Bob Wachtel—The Riviera in Winter
  • Bob Wachtel—Mind Games Center: A Review

USBGF News:

  • Karen Davis and Jason Lee—Mathematics of Backgammon Featured at the New National Museum of Mathematics
  • Karen Davis—John Klein: Student of the Game
  • Karen Davis— Alfred Mamlet: Winner of the January 2013 Online Circuit
  • Barry Silliman—The Leading U.S. Players
  • Tara Mendicino—USBGF Online Leader Board
  • Founding Sponsors
  • Upcoming U.S. Backgammon Events
  • 10th Annual Carolina Invitational
  • Tournament Results (March 25-April 21, 2013)
  • Perry Gartner—Update on the U.S. Backgammon Federation
  • Annual Membership Meeting

This issue of PrimeTime Backgammon, and other analytic articles, are restricted to Premium, Youth, and Founding Sponsor members. Join now, and you’ll enhance your playing experience—and have more fun! For those of you who have joined, again, many thanks for your confidence in us, and enjoy this 62-page action-packed, fun-filled issue.

Pitting the Best Against the Best

Highlights of the first USBGF Online Match (OLM) lead off the current May-June 2013 issue of PrimeTime Backgammon. This OLM, first in a series inaugurated by Jason Lee, features USBGF members voting on checker plays and cube decisions in a match against the all-time American Backgammon Tour leader, Neil Kazaross. The first 11-point match was won by USBGF members, even though Neil’s inhumanly low Performance Rating (PR) of 0.18 far surpassed a still impressive 3.63 PR by USBGF members. Marty Storer, USBGF Editor for Annotated Matches, analyzes 11 of the most interesting positions. The second Online Match is underway—if you haven’t joined in the fun, start now!

Gus Hansen and the Danish Team vs. “Falafel” Natanzon and the World Team.

Gus Hansen plays for the Danish Team against “Falafel” Natanzon and the World Team. (photo courtesy of Paul Weaver)

The mighty Danes have again challenged the rest of the world in the World Team vs. Denmark event held in connection with the Nordic Open. The Danish team has won three of the four years the competition has been held, including this year when it won 37–36 at Double Match Point in the consulting team event. The World Team jumped to a 12–1 lead before losing at DMP. Paul Weaver analyzes nine positions, and contrasts the right decision At the Score with what would be best in a money game or unlimited match.

Kit Woolsey, one of backgammon’s finest authors, and master of the doubling cube, launches a new column, To Double or Not to Double, in this issue of the magazine.

Bob Wachtel covers the Cannes tournament, complete with analysis of several interesting positions he faced. He also captures the glamour and atmosphere that make the Riviera appealing at any time of the year.

And there’s lots more in this issue of the magazine. Alfred Mamlet and John Klein, winners of the January 2013 and December 2012 USBGF Monthly Circuit tournaments provide insight into how they have systematically gone about taking their game to a new level.

This issue also reports on a Mind Games event at the new Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) in New York City, where Jason Lee and Bob Koca explained the mathematics of backgammon to captivated attendees, and where veteran backgammon players from the New York metropolitan area played matches with those new to the game. Richard Munitz treated them all to a thrilling game against the brother of a MoMath employee—a game whose exciting finish demonstrated how players can win or lose at the whim of the dice gods.

Check out the latest USBGF Online Leader Board, with the top-ten ranked players by Elo rating, showing win-loss records and USBGF online tournaments won. If you haven’t played in an online tourney yet, sign up now for fun and fame. And start organizing a team to play in the upcoming USBGF National Club Team Championship—details coming soon.

We encourage players in live ABT tournaments at every level to check out their ratings and stats on the complete USBGF Player Standings list, and the updated Leader Board prepared by Barry Silliman, USBGF Rankings Editor, with ABT rankings as of May 10, 2013, and USBGF Elo ratings for Open, Advanced, and Novice divisions based on ABT/USBGF tournament play since 2009 through May 10, 2013.

If you’re not yet a member of USBGF, or your membership has expired, sign up now and join the fun. You’ll enhance your playing experience—and enjoy this 62-page action-packed issue of PrimeTime Backgammon.

PrimeTime Backgammon, March-April 2013

Malcolm Davis

Malcolm Davis, Open Division winner of the 2013 Texas Backgammon Championships (photo by Karen Davis)

The U.S. Backgammon Federation presents the March-April 2013 issue of its bi-monthly electronic magazine, PrimeTime Backgammon. In it, you’ll find articles by leading backgammon players and authors.

Selected contents include:

  • Marty Storer and Bill Riles – Dual-Duel in San Antonio
  • Jake Jacobs – Off the top of My Head: Part II
  • Phil Simborg – Lecture in Texas: Magriel’s Bold/Safe Criteria
  • Karen Davis – Remember the Alamo! Inaugural Texas Backgammon Championships

USBGF News:

  • Karen Davis – Scott Kelland: Winner of the 2012-2013 National Internet Championship Advanced Division
  • Karen Davis – Nowruz at the Smithsonian
  • Tara Mendicino – USBGF Online Leader Board
  • Barry Silliman – The Leading U.S. Players
  • Founding Sponsors
  • Upcoming U.S. Backgammon Events
  • February-March 2013 Tournament Results
  • Perry Gartner – Update on the U.S. Backgammon Federation

This issue of PrimeTime Backgammon, and other analytic articles, are restricted to Premium, Youth, and Founding Sponsor members. Join now, and you’ll enhance your playing experience – and have more fun! For those of you who have joined, again, many thanks for your confidence in us, and enjoy this 60-page action-packed, fun-filled issue.

Texas Tops the Tour

Akiko Yazawa

Akiko Yazawa—winner of the first Dual-Duel (photo by Paul Weaver)

The Inaugural Texas Backgammon Championships, held January 31–February 3, 2013, in San Antonio, raised the bar for exciting backgammon competition. It drew 133 participants from as far away as Japan, Norway, and Israel, including the top five ranked Giants of Backgammon, as well as a strong field of 44 Texans who ably defended Texas honor by taking the top places in the Open, Advanced, and Novice Divisions of the Main event.

In the March–April 2013 issue of PrimeTime Backgammon, Marty Storer analyzes 30 positions from matches in a new event, the Dual-Duel. Tournament co-director Bill Riles explains that he designed this unique event, in which players advance on two sides of the bracket based on Performance Rating or match score, to respond to the growing interest in the performance ratings of elite players. Akiko Yazawa, an electrifying young Japanese player, captured the trophy for first place in the event, defeating Giants of Backgammon Ed O’Laughlin, Petko Kostadinov, Mochy Mochizuki, and Matt Cohn-Geier on the way to victory.

Phil Simborg highlights the lecture on Bold Play/Safe Play Criteria that he and Mochy gave at the Texas tournament. Thirty matches and the lecture were streamed to viewers around the world by Rynell Nunez, with over 3000 pageviews. Karen Davis summarizes the tournament highlights and winners, including Richard Munitz, winner of the USBGF National Championship West event and Bob Koca and Scott Kelland, winner of the USBGF Tournament of Stars doubles event. Tara Mendicino, tournament co-director, helped participants enjoy the sight-seeing and “amusement park of restaurants” in this destination city with gorgeous, South Texas ‘winter’ weather. Super Bowl parties hosted by Mike Svobodny and Bill Riles culminated the extravaganza.

Jake Jacobs, in the second installment of his history of backgammon, captures the excitement of the backgammon scene in the late 1970s as two parallel backgammon worlds—one inhabited by princes and socialites and one inhabited by young, serious students of the game—collided.

And there’s lots more in this issue of the magazine. Scott Kelland, winner of the 2012–2013 National Internet Championship Advanced Division, provides insight into how the new generation of players has honed its game with instant expert feedback from eXtremeGammon software.

This issue also reports on the Nowruz Persian New Year celebration at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery in Washington DC on March 16, where area backgammon players and USBGF Board of Directors Chairman Karen Davis taught and played backgammon with many of the 10,000 attendees ranging in age from 5 to 82.

This issue features the USBGF Online Leader Board with the top-ten ranked players by Elo rating, showing win-loss records and USBGF online tournaments won. Adam Versaw, winner of the 2012-2013 USBGF National Internet Championship Open Division, is in first place as this issue goes to print. The ranking changes continuously as more than 280 USBGF members play in a dazzling array of tournaments. If you haven’t played in an online tourney yet, sign up now for fun and fame. And start organizing a team to play in the upcoming USBGF Team Championship – details coming soon. Currently, 22 U.S. college students from a dozen universities, along with nine international students are participating in the USBGF U.S. and International Collegiate Championship. All matches are played on the GridGammon backgammon server.

We encourage players in live ABT tournaments at every level to check out their ratings and stats on the complete USBGF Player Standings list, and the updated Leader Board prepared by Barry Silliman, USBGF Rankings Editor, with ABT rankings as of March 15, 2013, and USBGF Elo ratings for Open, Advanced, and Novice divisions based on ABT/USBGF tournament play since 2009 through March 15, 2013.

If you’re not yet a member of USBGF, or your membership has expired, sign up now and join the fun. You’ll enhance your playing experience—and enjoy this 60-page action-packed issue.