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.