Winter 2017 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon
By Karen Davis, Managing Editor
The biggest tournament of 2016 was the 4th Merit Open in Kyrenia in Northern Cyprus – with almost 500 entrants. The Merit had it all – high stakes events, added sponsorship money, a beautiful locale, 24/7 service and hospitality, parties and other festivities galore – and, to really take it over the top, an underwater tournament played in scuba gear!
Ron Rubin, who began his backgammon career winning the “World Amateur Backgammon Championship” in Las Vegas in 1978, captured the Master Flight, following on his Monte Carlo Open win in July. Blake Fleetwood, a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times and other prestigious publications, reports on the event in this issue. To complement the copy, PrimeTime Backgammon editor Bob Wachtel shares with us some difficult decisions that he and his partner faced in the doubles event in Cyprus.
Paul Weaver, one of our most insightful technical analysts, provides an in-depth look at key positions in the Ed O’Laughlin-Victor Ashkenazi final of the 41st Michigan Summer Championships. Ed emerged victorious, propelling him to the top of the ABT points race for the year – but top-ranked BMAB Grandmaster Victor also had a stellar year, winning the 4th annual Connecticut tournament, tying for second in the main event of the 13th Carolina Championship, and also placing second in the Capital Classic Championship division.
At season’s end, Ed found himself in undisputed first place in the ABT points race, followed by Steve Sax who won the California State Championship, with Victor finishing in third place. Congratulations to them all! Ed, Victor, and Jack Edelman also took the top three in the USBGF national master points race for 2016, while Igor Erovenko, Mislav Kovacic, and Zdenek Zizka headed the USBGF online master points race. Check out the Leaderboard top-ten lists in this issue and find out where you stand by checking the national and online Leaderboards on our website under the Ratings tab.
Bill Riles, President and Executive Director of the USBGF, announced the acquisition of the American Backgammon Tour by the USBGF, with an assurance that the ABT ranking system will be continued.
As ever, our far-flung correspondents have checked in from events around the world. In this issue, the UK Backgammon Federation shares its report on the London Open; Ray Fogerlund covers the Capital Classic, contributing some intriguing positions in his match with Michy Kageyama; and Bill Riles provides photos and commentary on the Chicago Open.
There is always an appetite for tales of derring-do from the glory days of backgammon. In this issue, Malcolm Davis, one of the great storytellers of the game, profiles a true American original: his fellow Texan Jim Scott, with whom he won the doubles at the 1986 Williams Island Pro-Am.
April Kennedy and Michael Mesich in the Minnesota Twin Cities area have demonstrated how effective use of social media can attract new players to the game. It’s exciting to see three new upcoming ABT tournaments — the Viking Classic directed by April and Michael this March, the Boston Open in February, and the Cherry Blossom Classic in the Washington, D.C. area in April.
Twenty local clubs achieved USBGF Prime Club status with 10 or more USBGF members in 2016 and received free USBGF Premium memberships to award. This issue includes a listing of Prime Clubs as well as their Players of the Year.
USBGF President Bill Riles’ column hits the highpoints of the year welcoming the newly elected Dennis Culpepper to the Board of Directors and thanking Patrick Gibson for his six years of service. Patrick graces our cover; Bill’s profile reveals the keys to Patrick’s success in life as well as a quintessential tournament director. Check out the upcoming events and work on moving up in the rankings list in 2017. Get in the Game!