PrimeTime BG Winter 2020

Cover-Winter-thumbOur Winter issue features 2019 ABT Champion Frank Raposa, two ways: with a fine cover photo, and an article by Karen Davis and Marty Storer, not only recapping the Michigan tournament but also featuring Frank’s play as the winner over finalist Phil Simborg. The other feature articles are also intriguing: Bill Riles recaps November’s Cyprus tournament, including an interview with veteran director Arda Fındıkoğlu and a preview of his new spring tournament to be held in Cyprus. We have rollicking reports on both the Denver Shootout and the California State Championship, with pictures provided by Candace Mayeron and others. Finally, we have Karen Davis’s coverage of her Sunny Florida tournament, including Marty Storer’s analysis from two historic final matches: the undefeated bracket and the tournament final, both played between 80-year-old Ed O’Laughlin, who took the tournament title after many swings, and fresh-faced Cary Hoarty, who tore up the U.S. circuit this year at the tender age of 20. All tournament reporting is accompanied by pictures galore.

In his regular Math Overboard column, Art Benjamin delves into bearoffs. His “Counting Bearoffs” article makes a good study companion to Michy Kageyama’s recent book Endgame Technique. Rich Munitz’s Rulings column thoroughly covers the rules about cube actions: When is a double really a double and a take really a take? The answers are unambiguous!

Chris Bray, author of many books as well as the USBGF’s regular online column “Bray’s Learning Curve,” brings us wittily rendered news from across the pond. A short time ago his regular column in The Independent had been canceled when the publication went digital, but now he is the backgammon columnist for The Times, the world-famous newspaper based in London. We congratulate The Times on gaining his services, and wish Chris the best in his new role.

Karen Davis, USBGF President and Executive Director, gives us a historic column for a historic event: the Federation’s tenth anniversary, including latest news, history, goals, ongoing challenges, and metrics of success. Separately, she provides the latest information on local clubs, giving Prime Club information and also players of the year. Not only that, our valued Founding Sponsors are listed. Their generosity, which now includes some great new gifts, makes it possible for us to operate not only on the U.S. but also the world stage.

All this is accompanied by final ABT standings, complete tournament results, and info on upcoming events, among them NY Metro, Texas, and the Boston Open. Following those popular extravaganzas, we can look forward to Ohio State, the U.S. Open, Atlanta, and the Cherry Blossom tournament in D.C. This is capped by the program for the exciting 2020 Hall of Fame Awards Dinner, to be held at the Bill Riles and Tara Mendicino’s San Antonio tournament.

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PrimeTime BG Fall 2019

Our current issue has some of everything. Our feature articles are led by Bill Riles’s deep, entertaining, and detailed story of Jonah Seewald’s roller-coaster ride to victory this year in San Antonio. Wilcox Snellings returns to our pages to recap the Monte Carlo World Championship: his experiences and reminiscences, plus fantastic analysis of positions from the final matches between runner-up Petko Kostadinov and newly crowned champion Eli Roymi. Albert Steg gives us another thorough openings article, this time on how to follow up an opening 65.

We have a rollicking report on the L.A. Open, as well as Director Candace Mayeron’s profile of Eli Karp, the rising young star who showed up and won the USBGF National Championship West. Looking back 40 years, our historian Bob Stoller tells us all about the 1979 ITT Team Championship, a landmark event that featured the era’s leading lights of Europe and the USA. In a more personal vein, Ramez Abi-Akar, of the Peoria club, shares the tale of his international backgammon journey, with deep roots in his native land of Lebanon where the game has a rich history and tradition.

John O’Hagan, long-time Giant of Backgammon, insightfully reviews the recent and popular books by fellow Giant Michy Kageyama and co-author Roland Herrera: Opening Concepts and Endgame Technique. Mathemagician Art Benjamin reaches into his overflowing bag of tricks and pulls out a few to help count pips quickly and accurately. And Rich Munitz explains the rules for situations where it may be unclear whether a player has hit, reminding us to be careful when shuffling checkers!

President Karen Davis gives a rundown of the Federation’s latest efforts to grow the game through innovation. This includes next year’s elevation of the USBGF National Championship to a prime ABT event, through a generously donated prize fund. Besides detailing other ABT-level efforts, Karen tells how we’re cooperating with the World Backgammon Federation and the World Backgammon Internet Federation to field teams in international competitions. She covers the latest enhancements to streaming and expert commentary, as well as grass-roots activities: the Grunwald Newcomer Fund and the Local Club Initiative. And she introduces John Pirner as the newest member of the Board of Directors, giving us a detailed profile; he brings a lot to our table, to say the least. John will run in the upcoming Board of Directors election.

See the latest live and online tournament results, as well as our growing list of Founding Sponsors, Corporate Sponsors, and Prime Benefactors, to whom we owe a great debt. And check out the calendar of exciting tournaments coming up.

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Anita Marholm wins Womens Monthly for August!

AMarholmCongratulations to Anita Marholm for winning the USBGF Womens Monthly Online Circuit Event for August. Anita defeated Eva Zizkova in the 17-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the event was Leyla Zaloutskaya and Kat Denison.

The Women’s Circuit Monthly is a regular event on the USBGF Online Circuit that is open to any female USBGF member regardless of rating.

For more information about this tournament and other online events go to

PrimeTime BG Summer 2019

Cover-Summer-thumbThe Summer issue makes for great warm-weather reading!

We all want to know where the action is and who has been winning. And who better to provide those vital updates but our road-warrior President and Executive Director, Karen Davis? Just back from the 4th Merit Open Grand Prix and World Team Championships in the tiny European nation of Montenegro, Karen takes us inside this high-level team tournament, in which both the USA and Japan competed for the first time. Back stateside, she organized one of the premier events on the ABT calendar—the 2019 Cherry Blossom—and lets those who couldn’t attend know what they missed. The Cherry Blossom attracted over two dozen grandmasters, Giants of Backgammon, and international backgammon stars. After that, Bill Riles reports on two other major events: the Atlanta Spring Classic and the Chicago Open. Both tournaments featured interesting organizational innovations and major spurts in attendance.

Turnabout is fair play: and at this point our staff takes over, switching Karen’s role from reporter to reportee. In a far-ranging interview, USBGF Historian Bob Stoller investigates Karen’s impressive career as an economist and the pivotal role she has played in leading—and growing—the USBGF from its earliest days to the present. And it so happens that Karen’s backgammon career is getting interesting as well! In this issue I analyze a number of challenging positions that arose in her Super Jackpot final win over Sebastian Wilkinson at the New York Metropolitan Open.

Have you ever wondered what’s involved in competently directing a major tournament? In this issue Jeff Proctor, who has taken over directing the Atlanta Spring Classic, explains how he apprenticed for that job by volunteering to work on staff at the Texas Backgammon Championships. Judging by the 50% jump in attendance and rave reviews the tournament received, it worked!

This month’s regular features keep pace with past issues. Art Benjamin’s “Math Overboard” column introduces an easy way to count shots when your checker is on the bar; and Rich Munitz’s “What’s the Ruling?” contribution thoroughly covers the rules about placing your checker on your opponent’s blot but failing to pick up his checker. Turns out it depends on what you were thinking!

Karen presents a review of the USBGF Sponsor programs in her President’s column, highlighting the essential role Sponsor contributions have made in the growth of the game and USBGF membership.

Of course, we have tournament results, both live and online, and we list our much-appreciated Founding Sponsors, Corporate Sponsors, and Prime Benefactors. Details of upcoming tournaments round the issue out.

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PrimeTime BG Spring 2019

Cover-Spring-thumbThe Spring issue is chock full of fine content. We have interviews: Steve Sax, the great and popular player recently inducted into the Backgammon Hall of Fame at the Texas Championships, tells us of his life and times with the help of our historian Bob Stoller. Bob also interviews our latest corporate sponsor, Gammon Guys: Ross Gordon, Ed Corey, and Andrew Fazekas, who treat us to the fascinating story of their rise to U.S. backgammon fame, both as sellers of Artgammon equipment and as ABT directors and organizers. Karen Davis interviews Scott Ward, proud winner of the fourth online Director’s Cup tournament, and Marty Storer analyzes positions from his final match against Norm Friedman. With the help of two-time #1 Giant Wilcox Snellings, Marty also shares tips in an article on how to improve your game.

This month’s regular features keep pace with past issues. Art Benjamin’s Math Overboard column introduces the Rule of 17, an easy way to count double shots. Rich Munitz’s What’s the Ruling? thoroughly and entertainingly covers the rules about foreign-language conversations during tournaments.

We also have tributes. The top player Falafel Natanzon, and eXtreme Gammon’s author, Xavier Dufaure de Citres, have received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the USBGF, and we detail their accomplishments. Sadly, Steve Brown has passed away, and his friends Dana Nazarian and Christina Suter Elias share their memories of this wonderful person who also had an impressive backgammon career spanning many years.

As for tournament reports, Bill Riles outdoes himself yet again with his coverage of this year’s Texas Backgammon Championships: always one of the ABT’s highlights, with each year’s event surpassing the last. This time, innovative streaming and commentary was just one of many things the participants loved.

Karen Davis gives us a thorough rundown on another crown jewel ABT tournament, the NY Metro run by Lynn Ehrlich. Both tournaments were hugely successful, incidentally providing a store of recorded material for future analysis-including Karen’s own Super Jackpot final in New York against Britain’s Sebastian Wilkinson, and some exciting DMP games from San Antonio.

Karen, USBGF’s President and Executive Director, presents detailed information about the Federation’s ongoing successes in growing our game by supporting local clubs. Social media has been a big help. Check out this article to get the latest on the Local Club Initiative, and to see what’s going on at a club near you.

Of course, we have tournament results, both live and online, and we list our much-appreciated Founding Sponsors, Corporate Sponsors, and Prime Benefactors. Details of upcoming tournaments round the issue out.

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PrimeTime BG Winter 2019

Cover-Winter-thumbOur Winter issue is one of our very best. We have great feature articles: a brilliant analysis of the 2018 Michi­gan Masters final (Mamlet vs. O’Laughlin) from top players, theoreticians, and authors Nack Ballard and Paul Weaver; an interview of Tournament of Champions winner Adam Prager (by Karen Davis) along with analysis of his final match against Jaime Obregón (by Marty Storer); and an interview of American star Jason Pack by the Greek VICE News in which Jason gives a fascinating report of his experiences in Monte Carlo last year, and analyzes positions that were part of his great successes there.

On the lighter side, Minnesota novice Christina Suter Elias provides rollicking entertainment with chronicles of her adventures as she battles Fate to travel to her first tournament: Wisconsin 2018.

Not only that, we have introduced three regular features! The ever-witty, ever-insightful Giant and ABT star Ray Fogerlund kicks off his blog, Ray’s Instant Replays (also available via the USBGF website) in which he relives his experiences on the circuit. Art Benjamin, the USBGF’s genial Mathemagician, gives us his first Math Overboard column with a quick and easy explanation of the power of triangular numbers. And Rich Munitz, chairman of the USBGF Board’s Rules Committee, inaugurates What’s the Ruling?—the USBGF Rules in action, covered lucidly and in depth. Reaching for the cube, is my opponent committed or just thinking? Read the column and find out.

And then, tournament reports. Bill Riles outdoes himself with thorough coverage of the Cyprus Merit Open: a huge, prestigious extravaganza held in a breathtakingly beautiful and desirable venue, organized and run to perfection under the guiding hand of Arda Findikoglu. With USBGF Vice President Tara Mendicino, Bill also reports (Parting Shots) on backgammon-related travels in some lovely corners of England. Check out all the photos!

Veteran organizers Carol Joy Cole and Karen Davis recap the big Michigan Summer Championships held in July, and Karen covers her own baby, the successful Sunny Florida tournament in Fort Lauderdale. These events are not to be missed.

On the serious, but exciting side, USBGF Board Chairman Joe Russell gives us a rundown of ongoing international cooperation between the USBGF, Europe/WBF, and Japan. We hope that backgammon will take over the world! As if that weren’t enough, President and Executive Director Karen Davis gives her usual detailed report of USBGF business: plans, goals, finances, and progress metrics. We are doing our part to grow this game, step by step!

Again we name and thank our Founding Sponsors, Corporate Sponsors, and Prime Benefactors, who do so much for our fed­eration and for backgammon. And of course, we have the gamut of results and upcoming tournaments, as well as featuring local club players of the year.

Finally, we want to inform you that we’ve changed our position diagram format. We were inspired by Nack Ballard and Paul Weaver, who requested that their article be formatted like their great book, Backgam­mon Openings. Thanks to their help, and to our hard-working Production Editor, Tara Mendicino, we have been able to grant their request and extend it going forward, simplifying our presentation and likely realizing a page-count savings of about 10%. Your feedback on the new format is welcome and desired.

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PrimeTime BG Fall 2018

Fall 2018 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Marty Storer, Managing Editor

Cover-Fall-thumbOur Fall issue is loaded with great content. It recaps the Michigan Summer Championships (by Managing Editor Marty Storer, including analysis of the Talbot-Woolsey BMAB tournament final), and the 43rd Backgammon World Championship (by World Championship staff member, PrimeTime publisher, and USBGF Board member Bill Riles). The USBGF has honored Falafel with a Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented at Monte Carlo; the beloved American/Israeli star is pictured on the cover.

We continue our tribute to Paul Magriel with analysis of nine positions discussed by Giants Steve Sax and Marty Storer at May’s Cherry Blossom tournament in D.C. And we present two player profiles by USBGF President Karen Davis: of the fine player, Mathemagician, and USBGF Board member Art Benjamin, one of the game’s greatest teachers and contributors; and of the young Cary Hoarty, by all appearances a rising star. Storer analyzes eight positions from the ultimate match of the Cherry Blossom Advanced section, which Cary won.

Rules and Ethics Committee Chairman Rich Munitz inaugurates his Rules column with a simple, well-written explanation of the Dice on Checkers rule. And USBGF historian Bob Stoller gives ABT and U.S. Open statistics for some of the top performers.

Finally, we have a comprehensive rundown of results and ongoing USBGF efforts: international collaboration, communications including social media, novice development, the Local Club Initiative, upcoming elections, and live streaming. Enjoy!

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PrimeTime BG Summer 2018

Summer 2018 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Marty Storer, Managing Editor

This issue, like our last, celebrates the great Paul Magriel. In her President’s column, entitled “Lessons from Magriel,” Karen Davis writes of her long acquaintance with him as his competitor and his student. She shares valuable tips from lessons taken in 1994-95. As if that weren’t enough, Renée Magriel Roberts, Paul’s first wife and love, favors us all with a beautifully written article: an inside look at his genius, character, and quirks, and an account of their collaboration on Backgammon, a book still known as the game’s Bible. Our tribute will continue in the Fall issue.

We introduce a new author to these pages: Albert Steg of the New England Backgammon Club. He delves into a “3rd-roll complex,” elucidating principles for countering the opening reply of 66. Not only that, he provides a FileMaker quizzing application, downloadable from our website, that runs on the Apple iPad. This fine theoretical effort is what we might expect from such a strong and promising player; we will definitely be hearing more from Albert.

Author, PrimeTime editor, and Giant Bob Wachtel contributes a thoughtful piece on brilliancy in backgammon. He believes the attempt to minimize eXtreme Gammon PR numbers leads to a mind-set where only mistakes seem interesting, while good and even great plays are treated as run-of-themill. He says we should aspire to heights of creativity, both in play and analysis; and he gives recommendations for changing our ways and outlook.

Marty Storer and Karen Davis give us a profile of the Czech player Martin Filipi, whose dedication led to his victory in the online USBGF Tournament of Champions for 2017. It’s interesting to hear from Martin how he came so far so fast. Marty analyzes five interesting positions from the final match against the top U.S. player Alfred Mamlet.

Alexander Auer has a profile and interview of German craftsman Volker Wenzlaff, whose Gammoner boards are among the world’s finest. Alexander and his photographer wife, Doris, spent a day the Gammoner facility in Münster; the article is full of fascinating stories, as well as descriptions and photos of the processes and materials that help make up a top-quality backgammon set. We also have a short profile of photographer Peter Senzamici, whose beautiful work graces this issue’s pages. We appreciate his contributions.

We have fantastic reports on three big and exciting tournaments: the U.S. Open in Las Vegas, and the Chicago Open (both by Bill Riles), and the Cherry Blossom in the D.C. area (by organizer Karen Davis). The Chicago Open featured a great USA vs. Japan challenge match, and lots of good backgammon; Bill Calton won the main event as well as Mochy’s Proficiency Test, and Giants did very well. In the Cherry Blossom, Roberto Litzenberger won his first, and overdue, ABT victory; as a dedicated teacher of novices, he was pleased to see a record turnout for the Novice event! U.S. Open victor and all-time ABT leader Neil Kazaross is featured on the cover, and Ray Fogerlund also did extremely well at that tournament. For full details, check out the articles and summaries of results!

USBGF Historian Bob Stoller reviews the second edition of Bill Robertie’s book, 501 Essential Backgammon Problems. There’s a lot more to the article than a dry technical review of this fine book; Bob recaps Bill’s achievements over many years, reminding us why “Robertie” could be a short way to say “Hall of Fame Genius.”

Besides results, standings, and upcoming tournaments, there’s an article for newcomers: “Getting the Most out of your New USBGF Membership.” PrimeTime Backgammon, teaching videos, seminars, the online match, discounts on entries and equipment, added money for live and online member tournaments—these are some of the benefits you get by joining the U.S. Backgammon Federation. Though in this issue we shout out our appreciation of our 163 listed Founding Sponsors, who are indispensable to our work, we realize that ordinary members are the backbone of the Federation and the key to our success.

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PrimeTime BG Spring 2018

Spring 2018 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Marty Storer, Managing Editor

In this issue we celebrate Paul Magriel, backgammon’s great pioneer, who died untimely on March 5 to our bitter loss. Besides many photos, tributes, and reminiscences, we have a recap of his life and times from USBGF Historian Bob Stoller. Our Summer issue will feature some of his games, old and new.

Our other feature articles are intriguing, as usual. Prince Alexis Obolensky and Joe Sylvester were inducted into the American Backgammon Hall of Fame at February’s annual San Antonio tournament, ABT trophies were presented for 2017, and Perry Gartner and Patti Rubin were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards. Besides Perry himself, Bob Stoller, Bill Riles, Arda Findikoglu, and Jake Jacobs explain what the honorees have done for our game.

Paul Weaver contributes yet another penetrating analysis, this time of 10 positions from the November Las Vegas finals between 2017 ABT Champion Matt Cohn-Geier and fourth-place finisher Leyla Zaloutskaya.

David Presser and Igor Erovenko have studied opening cubes deeply. Check out their article, “A Simple Rule: Adjusting Opening Cube Action to Match Play.” All serious players need to have this rule in their arsenal.

Ray Fogerlund gives us a colorful report on the 2017 California State Championships. Does “fogerlund” mean “colorful” in Danish? Considering this article and Ray’s past ones, it may as well. He rehashes the overall experience in inimitable style, and treats us to analysis as well. Besides positions from his own matches against Mochy and Akiko, he goes over others from Akiko, winner Steve Sax, and runner-up Michael Neagu.

On the subject of tournaments: Bill Riles and Tara Mendicino ran the 6th Texas Championships in February, in beautiful, historic San Antonio, and as usual it was a great success. Bill’s big writeup of the event includes all the news and comes with a fabulous spread of photos. He thanks Swedish director Jesper Carlsson for his help, which I can attest was considerable-truly an international effort this time around!

Karen Davis interviews Candace Mayeron, co-director of the California State Championship and soon to have the same role in June’s Los Angeles Open. For those who are not familiar with Candace and what she does, read the profile. If she keeps up her good work, she will soon be another Patti Rubin, organizer extraordinaire.

With USBGF Membership Director Ray Bills, Karen explains the Local Club Initiative, our latest effort to promote and grow local clubs. From November through February, the USBGF sponsored tournaments at local clubs. The response was outstanding, and no doubt contributed to a big spike in membership compared to the same time period 12 months earlier. This is just the beginning of our effort to bring more clubs and players into the game. As the authors say, this is a WIN, WIN, WIN! proposition.

Karen Davis’s President’s Column in this issue is titled, “Attracting New Players.” She lays out five goals the Federation had set in order to do just that, and evaluates our performance. We have reached out to local clubs, directors, sponsors, new players, novices, and existing members, and things are looking up. The take-away is that the USBGF is thinking big.
As usual, we have tournament results and standings—see who’s been winning in 2018.
So, what are you waiting for?

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PrimeTime BG Winter 2018

Winter 2018 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Marty Storer, Managing Editor

In this issue we look back on 2017, and turn an eye to the future. One of last year’s biggest events was the 5th Merit Open International, held in Cyprus in November. Blake Fleetwood’s article showcases that mega-tourney, and the big win by Chicago’s Carter Mattig over former World Champion Lars Trabolt. Closer to home, Paul Weaver reports on the Novi tournament, always a U.S. highlight, and ably analyzes the Michigan Masters finals between Alfred Mamlet and Victor Ashkenazi. Karen Davis and I cover the first international American Backgammon Tour event, the Montreal Open, where Canadians did very well but Americans also had their say; check out the analysis of the finals match between champion Chris Knapp and Voice of Backgammon stream-master Larry Shiller. Hall-of-Famer Ray Fogerlund contributes a colorful piece on his 2017 USBGF Grand Championship win over Faddoul Khoury, and his 2016 near miss against ABT Champion Ed O’Laughlin. The venerable Malcolm Davis provides more great technical content as he wraps up last issue’s doubling quiz, sharing answers, cube philosophy, and historical reminiscences.

Turning the clock back a bit further, USBGF historian Bob Stoller interviews 1981 World Champion Lee Genud, backgammon’s first female superstar and still a wonderful ambassador for the game. She gives us a fascinating glimpse into her glamorous life in backgammon, and the storied days of the ’70s and ’80s. Karen Davis profiles another veteran, Ken Bame, director of the Silicon Valley Open, who won the 2017 USBGF Director’s Cup and has posted many other impressive results.

USBGF President Karen Davis gives us her usual thoughtful, lucid, and data-driven assessment of the past year in American backgammon, “Metrics of Success.” She discusses everything from the tumultuous reworking and adoption of USBGF rules for ABT tournaments, to the promising Local Prime Club initiative. Read this report to find out how we met and exceeded some of our stated goals, where we fell short, and what the future may hold.

Joe Russell, Chairman of the USBGF Board of Directors, provides his perspective on past and future events. He presents results of the recent Board of Directors election, and welcomes the two new members, Matt Reklaitis and Jack Edelson. He describes their unique talents and the ways they want to contribute to backgammon in the USA and beyond. His discussion of the ABT’s implementation of the USBGF rules adds to Karen’s insights. Finally, he talks about support and promotion of local clubs, and goals for international collaboration.

Of course, we have our usual array of tournament results, rankings, and master points, and the ever-prolific Karen Davis presents a listing of Prime Club champions and their photos.

The big take-away from this issue is that backgammon is growing. We want to keep up that trend.

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PrimeTime BG Fall 2017

Summer 2017 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Marty Storer, Deputy Managing Editor

We have some great content to share with you in this issue. Joe Russell, Chairman of the USBGF Board of Directors, kicks it off with an explanation of the Federation’s newly ratified 2018 Tournament Rules. Then President Karen Davis presents the USBGF’s current mission statement. Karen’s column is appropriately titled Metrics for Success: it is full of useful data, thoughtfully interpreted.

This quarter’s feature articles are entertaining and informative. First, Bill Riles provides a detailed report on this summer’s Backgammon World Championship in Monte Carlo.

Bob Stoller interviews Hall of Famer Joe Russell, truly one of the world’s great players. The interview showcases Joe’s amazing memory, not to mention his magnificent results.

My own article analyzes interesting decisions from the 2016 Federation Cup final, Jeb Horton vs. Dave Kettler, which among other things featured a massive backgame.

Long-time Giant and PrimeTime editor Bob Wachtel contributes a lively report on the Worldwide Trophy tournament, held this May in Tbilisi, Georgia (the country, not the state). Bob played board #2 for the U.S. team, and analyzes some tough positions from his match with Tim Cross when we faced off against Great Britain.

Recent Hall of Fame inductee Ray Fogerlund amusingly recaps the Madison, Wisconsin, tournament, where invading Minnesota Vikings, led by Steve Brown, made away with much of the home-state cheese hoard.

Malcolm Davis, a marvelous money and tournament player for decades, pops a quiz: five cube decisions. Make your choices and stay tuned for his analysis in our next issue!

We also present an interview by Alexander and Doris Auer of Fazil Terlemez, the premier craftsman who produces the fine FTH boards sold by Gammon Stuff (, a USBGF corporate sponsor. Fazil had to overcome many obstacles in his life, and, as this excellent interview makes clear, his is a labor of love. Alexander and Doris visited Fazil and his wife Hanim at their home and workshop in Michelstadt, Germany.

Forty-five years after Bobby Fischer’s landmark World Chess Championship victory over Boris Spassky, Federation historian Bob Stoller gives us a fascinating look at the backgammon connections of that match, including chess accomplishments of some of our game’s top players.

Karen Davis found an interesting subject this month for one of her signature interviews: Ross Gordon, the up-and-coming director of the Connecticut Backgammon Club. Ross directed this year’s Boston and Montreal Opens, and looks forward to running the Connecticut State Championships in October and the 2018 Boston Open in February.

Finally, you’ll find tournament and USBGF Master Point results and the calendar of upcoming events. Don’t miss too many of those! My head is spinning with all the choices. I hope to cross paths with you in Connecticut, Vegas, New York, Boston, or at any of the other exciting tournaments in store.

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PrimeTime BG Summer 2017

Summer 2017 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Marty Storer, Deputy Managing Editor

Three new American Backgammon Tour (ABT) tournaments kicked off in the first half of 2017: (1) the Boston Open in February; (2) the Viking Classic in Bloomington, Minnesota in March; and (3) the Cherry Blossom Championship in Dulles, Virginia (Washington, D.C. area) in April. The Boston Open was directed by Ross Gordon of the Connecticut Backgammon Club and sponsored by the New England Backgammon Club. The Viking Classic was co-directed by April Kennedy and Michael Mesich. The Cherry Blossom Championship was directed by Bill Riles and organized by Karen Davis. These events provided stunning venues, stirring themes, and innovations that attracted players from across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Japan.

This issue is replete with reports on these and other U.S. events. Paul Weaver treats us to an analysis of difficult cube decisions in the final of the Cherry Blossom Championship, while Steve Sax hits the high notes of the tournament and his path to winning the Cherry Blossom Jackpot. Blake Fleetwood, former journalist for The New York Times, captures the Nordic lore on display at the Viking Classic in prose and photos — and Stick, host of the popular BGonline forum and one of backgammon’s leading theoreticians, regales us with tales of multiple triumph in his home-state tournament, the Ohio State Championships in March. Stick won the Masters Jackpot and the Open Consolation.

For this quarter’s history lesson, USBGF historian Robert Stoller shares his research on the 40-year history of the U.S. Open. This issue also features Bob’s interview of Neil Kazaross, all-time American Backgammon Tour point leader, and American Backgammon Hall of Fame honoree.

Interviews by Karen Davis introduce us to two relatively unknown top players who showed their expertise at the Chicago Open in May: Grant Hoffman and Gerry Tansey. Grant has directed the New Zealand Backgammon Championship and has won several Australian and New Zealand championships. Gerry, from the “Show-Me” state of Missouri, won the Backgammon Olympiad in Chicago as well as Mochy’s 7th Backgammon Proficiency Test. His score of 37 topped the field in Chicago as well as those who took the test at the Japan Open.

Several articles in this issue contain suggestions for fine-tuning your game. Ed Rosenblum shares his system of producing flashcards tailored to his own errors. I offer shortcuts for calculating the best gammon-saving play as you bear the last checker in. In addition, Art Benjamin and Patrick Gibson explain a mathematical system for equitably compensating players in events with two starting times where only the second group is eligible for byes.

Joe Russell, Chairman of the USBGF Board of Directors, brings us up to date on the draft revised USBGF Tournament Rules and invites suggestions during a 30-day public comment period before seeking ratification of the Rules by a vote of the membership.

Karen Davis, in her President’s Column, reminds us of some of the USBGF’s accomplishments this year, particularly in its programs designed to attract newcomers to tournament play. Almost 200 Novices entered ABT events in 2016, and the numbers for 2017 are trending even higher, with five of the ten ABT tournaments held through the end of May having double-digit Novice entrants.
Karen also outlines an exciting new USBGF Local Club Initiative that will provide added money based on USBGF membership to an annual club tournament, with winners eligible for an inter-club champion online competition leading to award of an ABT tournament entry fee of the winner’s choice.

You’ll also find in this issue a summary of the great benefits offered by the USBGF, with tips on how to ensure you get the most out of your membership. Check out the latest statistics and upcoming events, and work on moving up in the rankings list in 2017.

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PrimeTime BG Spring 2017

Spring 2017 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Marty Storer, Deputy Managing Editor

The induction of new members into he American Backgammon Hall of Fame is one of those events that our community looks forward to and enjoys. We are pleased, in this Spring issue of the magazine, to offer a transcript of the speeches made at the Awards Dinner in San Antonio in February, along with brief tributes to this year’s honorees: Hall of Famers Ray Fogerlund, Joe Russell, and Mike Svobodny, and Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Louise Goldsmith and Norm Wiggins.

David Presser and Igor Erovenko treat us to another of their series of fine articles, this time exploring the nuances of checker play after an opening cube in a classic double 3s blitz. For novice players, Steve Sax provides them with an insightful overview of basic strategy, explaining that choosing the right move is as easy as 1-2-3.

Bill Riles and Karen Davis provide coverage and great photos from the New York Metro Open in January (record attendance!) and the Texas Backgammon Championships in February.

Also in this issue, Phil Simborg interviews Tom Buckner, a USBGF Founding Sponsor, backgammon enthusiast and philanthropist, and the genius behind the line of P-40 backgammon boards and equipment. The tremendous attention to detail and attention to customer feedback that are hallmarks of Tom’s work ethic are a marvel to contemplate, and confirm that the goal he set for himself was no trivial one. Beautifully designed and engineered, P-40 boards have quickly become the equipment of choice on the American backgammon scene.

An interview by Karen Davis of Charles Ziegler, a teacher who includes backgammon in a mind-games course he teaches at a Montessori high school in Houston, provides insight into the social value of backgammon. So highly does Ziegler judge the educational benefits of backgammon that he enrolled all of his students in the USBGF in January; which, incidentally, pushed our membership over the 1000 mark!

In yet another interview, Online Circuit winner Rodryk Schönfeld from Germany tells us how he has worked to improve his game through lessons, study, and online and live competition.

In January, the U.S. Backgammon Federation Board of Directors elected Joe Russell as Chairman, Karen Davis as President and Executive Director, Dorn Bishop as Vice Chairman and Secretary, and Bill Riles as Treasurer. Joe and Karen share their vision for the game and the Federation in overviews they have contributed to this issue.

Check out the latest statistics and upcoming events and work on moving up in the rankings list in 2017. Get in the Game!

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Simborg Video Lesson: Splitting for Beginners

Simborg Video Lesson: Splitting for Beginners

Featured content exclusively for USBGF Premium, Youth, & Basic Members.

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Simborg Video Lesson: Basic Numbers and Odds for Beginners

Simborg Video Lesson: Basic Numbers and Odds for Beginners
Featured content exclusively for USBGF Premium, Youth, & Basic Members.

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Delta Airlines Discount for Tournament Travel!

We have negotiated a Delta Airline travel discount to backgammon tournament attendees in 2017. Blake Fleetwood has graciously organized this exclusive deal for the USBGF.
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PrimeTime BG Winter 2017

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!

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USBGF Tournament Rules

USBGF Board of Directors Approves Tournament Rules

Approved by U.S. Backgammon Federation Board of Directors September 22, 2016.

PrimeTime Backgammon Fall 2016

Fall 2016 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

The high point of the backgammon year is always the World Championships in Monte Carlo – and this year’s finale, pitting Sweden’s two-time World Champion Jörgen Granstedt against the USA’s own former World Champion Joe Russell, was a thriller. A member of the World Championship staff this year, USBGF President and Executive Director Bill Riles covers the action for the magazine as an embedded reporter in Monte Carlo.

Next, Marty Storer, USBGF Match Feature Editor, provides an in-depth review of the John Klein-Michael Senkiewicz Liberty Cup final at the New York Metropolitan Open. John emerged victorious – but Hall of Fame awardee Senk has returned to the game with a vengeance, winning the New York Metro Championship and the Atlanta Spring Classic on his way to earning a Grandmaster title from the Backgammon Masters Awarding Body.

Teaching the serious backgammon student how to think about the game, David Presser and Igor Erovenko follow up their excellent article on opening cubes from the Summer issue, demonstrating how to vary the features of a position from A to B – “Always” to “Borderline.”

As a special treat, Malcolm Davis offers us his candidate for the best redouble of his life. It occurred in his match against James Colen in the round of 8 in the 1996 World Cup. Sit back and appreciate the masterstroke of an all-time great.

After consuming all that food for thought, travel the world with tournament reports from our far-flung correspondents. PrimeTime Backgammon Editor Bob Wachtel gives us beautiful photos and a culturally rich essay on a major tournament in “the other” Georgia, and Steve Sax shares highlights from his Texas Dual-Duel final with the same Bob Wachtel.

USBGF historian Robert Stoller makes history in two articles: an insightful interview with tournament director par excellence and 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Patrick Gibson, and an essay on the history of Geoffrey Parker Games’ foray into the backgammon-equipment business.

This issue opens with USBGF President Bill Riles’ column, updating our members on the latest Federation news. Check out the live and online tournament rankings and master points, tournament results, upcoming events, and Get in the Game!

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Backgammon is WAR by Julius High

Julius High — member of the USBGF Board of Directors, outstanding player, and all around nice guy — presents an enlightening and entertaining seminar on “Backgammon is War”. ‘Commander’ High uses military terminology and strategies to define, illustrate, and emphasize fundamental backgammon principles. The presentation will intrigue children, instruct less experienced players, and provide all players concepts for consideration in an enjoyable context.

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PrimeTime Backgammon Summer

Summer 2016 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

Looking for beach reading? Take along the summer PrimeTime Backgammon! With our shift to quarterly publication, this issue is filled with even more great tournament reports, player profiles, news, and analytic articles designed to take your game to the next level.

We kick off with an instructive article by the Russian expert, Dmitriy Obukhov. In it, Dmitriy analyzes several tough positions that surfaced in the final round of the 4th USBGF Online Club Team Championship. The winning Czech team, which calls itself Hrrrrrrrrr na ne! (it’s a Czech battle cry), was composed of Zdenk Žižka, Eva Žižkova and Jan Cerný. The finalist Phoenix Stars were Doug Amenda, Harvey Gillis, and Todd Crosner.

Another treat in store for you is an essay on opening doubling decisions, carefully researched and written by David Presser and Igor Erovenko. While opening rolls and second-roll responses have received a lot of attention in the literature, much less has been written about these initial doubling decisions.

Yet another high-level analytical article, this one on backgames, follows. Written by that perennial Giant and student of the game, Paul Weaver, this study spotlights six extremely difficult backgame positions, taken from streamed matches from this February’s Texas Backgammon Championships.

After all that work, lay back in your beach chair and let your mind travel far and wide with tournament reports from our far-flung correspondents. Jesper Carlssen reports on the Nordic Open, PrimeTime Backgammon Editor Bob Wachtel gives us the inside scoop on the Gibraltar Open, Stuart Thomson covers the Atlanta Spring Classic, and Karen Davis highlights the Ohio State Championships.

But it’s people that make backgammon so enjoyable. Russian photojournalist Vera Degtiarova interviews our own editor Bob Wachtel on his backgammon travels in the exotic middle-eastern nation of Georgia; we profile the Zakrajsek family, all of whom are garnering success on the backgammon circuit; also profiled is Barry Silliman, director of the Washington DC-area Beltway Backgammon Club. Finally, Tore Christian Helliesen shows us how much fun backgammon can be when played on his “big board” in Norwegian schools.

This issue is completed by USBGF President Bill Riles’ column, updating our members on new USBGF initiatives. Check out the live and online tournament rankings and master points, Prime Clubs, upcoming events, and Get in the Game!

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PrimeTime Backgammon, Mar-Jun

March – June Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

Just a few months into 2016, we barely have enough space in this issue to cover the burgeoning action on the U.S. backgammon scene. The first tournament of the year, the New York Metropolitan Open in January, was grander than ever, with ten of the top ten 2015 Giants in attendance.

The Metro Open featured two spectacular side events. The first was an inaugural challenge match between USA and the rest of the world. And who better to report on that elite competition than our correspondent Steve Sax, team member and Giant #9?

The second side event, the High Roller, drew gamblers from around the nation. Two of those fearless competitors, Bill Phipps and Stick, played a swingy match in which the question of whether to play for the gammon arose repeatedly. Using no less than ten positions from this match as examples, our resident analyst Paul Weaver explores the subtleties of this too-good-or-not theme.

Next on the calendar was the Texas Backgammon Championships in San Antonio in February. For anyone who missed that event or the show at its gala dinner, the 2016 American Hall of Fame honorees were Patrick Gibson, Tim Holland, Danny Kleinman, and Howard Markowitz. We include a transcript of the ceremony, and catch up with a couple of last year’s inductees with the conclusion of USBGF historian Robert Stoller’s interview with Kent Goulding and Michael Senkiewicz. Senkiewicz, the quintessential New York games player, hasn’t lost his touch — winning the New York Metro Championship (above) and finishing as finalist in the Liberty Cup Masters.

Next, Texas co-directors Bill Riles and Tara Mendicino share highlights of the San Antonio tournament, won by USBGF Board of Directors member Richard Munitz. The coveted Dual-Duel crown went to our own PrimeTime Backgammon editor (and Giant #12), Bob Wachtel, after a hard-fought final with Steve Sax.

But the younger generation is eager to make its mark. Brian Lonergan, an under-30 player from New Orleans, describes his determined effort to take his game to the top level. Another hopeful, Australia’s Cindy Belonogoff, gives us her perspective on the U.S. scene after a tour of major American tournaments and some fine results on the USBGF Online Circuit.

Others are pursuing regional fame. We present results of team tournaments in the heartland from Virginia to Illinois, and reprise the rise of the Columbus, Ohio backgammon club to USBGF Prime Club status under Jason Marshall’s leadership.

In other news, we describe USBGF Education Committee chairman Art Benjamin’s ongoing program of organizing backgammon social events at mathematics conferences.

This issue concludes with USBGF President Bill Riles’ column, updating the membership on new USBGF initiatives, including the recently launched online Federation Cup — a free tournament with cash prizes — and a new Newcomer/Novice initiative at Prime Tournaments. He shares his vision for the evolution of organized backgammon play in the U.S. and internationally.

Check out the live and online tournament rankings and master points, Prime Clubs, upcoming events, and Get in the Game!

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PrimeTime Backgammon, Jan-Feb

January – February Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

Wishing the whole backgammon community a happy new year, we kick off 2016’s first issue of PrimeTime Backgammon by announcing the induction of four new members to the American Backgammon Hall of Fame. The ceremony honoring these backgammon greats took place at the Texas Backgammon Championships in San Antonio on February 5, 2016. Bill Riles presented plaques to the inductees who are profiled in this issue, and Jeremy Bagai contributes an essay on the honorees.

In our first feature, we train the spotlight on two of last year’s Hall of Famers, as USBGF historian Robert Stoller presents a lively interview with Kent Goulding and Michael Senkiewicz: pioneers whose acute analysis of the game in the pre-bot era helped raise the level of professional play.

Next, we move from the distant past to the recent past. This issue includes lists of top performers in 2015 – including the ABT point list topped by Dorn Bishop, the USBGF cumulative Elo over the period from 2009-2015 headed by Joe Russell, the newly instituted USBGF National Master Point list for 2015 with Ray Fogerlund finishing first, and the USBGF 2015 Online Master Points Leaderboard headed by Jan Honza Černý from the Czech Republic.

All these champions! Can you become one too? Improve your game with Marty Storer, our Feature Editor for Annotated Matches. Next up in this issue: Marty analyzes 11 key positions from the USBGF Online Tournament of Champions final match, between Israel’s David Presser and Germany’s Frank Simon. David and Frank were among the 23 winners of 2014 USBGF online tournaments who qualified for a coveted slot in the event.

After doing your homework with Marty, relax and let your mind wander with tournament reports from our far-flung correspondents: Ray Fogerlund on the Seattle Backgammon Classic; Jake Jacobs on the Japan Open; and Sabri Büyüksoy on the 3rd Merit Open in Cyprus.

A craftsman, the saying goes, is only as good as his tools. It is 2016, and by now we all know how to use programs like XG, but how many of us can remember all the replies to the opening moves? The solution may lie with an app created by American expert Jeremy Bagai. Jeremy calls his app, which uses the efficient learning-technique of flashcards, “FlashBack.” But before we rush to buy the app, let’s read the reviews. Canadian Bruce Farquhar lets us do just that, ably assessing FlashBack’s features and promise.

But backgammon is played by people, so we move from mathematical apps to mathemagicians, profiling the extraordinary accomplishments of USBGF Board member Art Benjamin. The second “person of interest” we introduce to our readers is a Rip Van Winkle character: Cleveland’s Ray Cifani, who is attacking the game with fresh enthusiasm after a three-decade layoff!

This issue opens with USBGF President Bill Riles’ updates on the recent Board of Directors election and his thanks for the generous contributions of 32 Founding Sponsors, Prime Benefactors, and major donors – who contributed over $40,000 in 2015. Looking towards a bright 2016, Bill previews his plan to implement a 1000-member campaign.

Check out the live and online tournament rankings and master points, Prime Clubs, upcoming events, and Get in the Game!

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PrimeTime Backgammon, Nov-Dec

November-December 2015 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

Halloween trick or treat is just behind us, but we’ve saved the real treat for this issue of PrimeTime Backgammon with an in-depth analysis of Marty Storer’s march to victory in Michigan — by none other than our USBGF Editor for Annotated Matches, Marty Storer himself. Marty won both the Championship division and the USBGF National Championship East, compiling a remarkable 17-1 win-loss record in those two events.

Continuing to profile the inaugural cohort of Hall of Fame inductees, we present abridged interviews of tournament directors par excellence Bill Davis and Carol Joy Cole, conducted by USBGF historian Robert Stoller.

Following the ABT circuit, Steve Sax reports on the LA Open, in which Cliff Pappas climbed to backgammon fame after two decades at the poker table. Ray Fogerlund sends news from the Vietor Cup, and Linda Rockwell provides a spooky, spoofy report on the Halloween-themed Illinois tournament. Our international correspondent, Sabri Büyüksoy, treats us with one of his signature photo essays, from a gala tournament held in the Republic of Georgia.

The backgammon literature is constantly growing — and being vetted. John O’Hagan does the honors this month with his review of Ed Rosenblum’s new book, Conquering Backgammon.

Online backgammon on the USBGF Circuit is a wonderful way to meet and play top players from around the world. In this issue I profile the Czech Republic’s Jan Cerny, who won the USBGF Circuit Monthly for July — and his fellow country “man,” 14-year old Martin Zizka, winner of the Advanced Divisional IX.

In his bi-monthly briefing of the membership on the Federation’s affairs, USBGF President Bill Riles gives us a glimpse of some of the great happenings planned for 2016.

Check out the live and online tournament rankings and master points, Prime Clubs, upcoming events, and Get in the Game!

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Notice of Annual Board of Directors Election

In accordance with the By-Laws, as cited below, this e-mail provides notice of our annual Board of Directors election which will be held this year, via our e-voting system, with a voting window beginning at 12:01 a.m. EST Monday, December 28, 2015 and ending at 11:59 p.m. EST, Monday, January 4, 2016. An e-mail including specific voting instructions, with links to the ballot and to candidate information, will be forwarded to members immediately prior to the beginning of the voting period.

“Elections shall be scheduled and overseen by the Governance and Nominations Committee with the assistance of the Executive Director and other officers as needed. Members shall be entitled to cast up to one vote for each vacancy. However, no Member may cast more than one vote for any candidate on his/her ballot. The Board shall provide reasonable notice of the date range for voting, at least fourteen (14) calendar days in advance, through publication on the Federation’s internet website and, to the extent practicable, through other methods reasonably calculated to provide notice to the Federation’s Members. There shall be a period of at least seven (7) days for voting. Candidates receiving the greatest number of votes, up to the number of vacancies, and named on at least 50% of the ballots cast will be elected. The seat numbers listed as being up for election on the ballot shall be in descending order of the time remaining on their respective terms and will be sequentially assigned to elected candidates in descending order of the number of votes received. If not all the seats are filled in the initial round of elections, then there will be a runoff between the “x” number of candidates receiving the most votes (but not elected), where “x” is equal to twice the number of remaining seats on the Board to be filled in the election, provided that a candidate must have received votes from at least 5% of the ballots cast in the initial round to be eligible for the runoff. In the event of ties for the last remaining slot(s) on a runoff ballot, each of the candidates in the tie will be placed on the runoff ballot. Candidates receiving the greatest number of votes, up to the remaining number of vacancies, and named on at least 50% of the ballots cast will be elected.”

PrimeTime Backgammon, Sept-Oct

September-October 2015 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

The September-October 2015 issue of PrimeTime Backgammon is now available. We apologize that its release is somewhat behind schedule, but we hope that you will agree it is well worth the wait. It includes coverage of one of the most elegant, luxurious events in the worldwide tournament calendar, the 40th anniversary edition of the Backgammon World Championship, held at the beachfront Fairmont Monte Carlo hotel in the richest (per capita) country in the world, Monaco.

The winner, Cihangir Çetinel, is the first Turkish player to claim the honor of World Champion; and the losing finalist was another Eastern European: the young Russian expert, Sergey Erokhin. Two other articles complete our coverage of this premier event. First, our editor and #8 Giant Bob Wachtel analyzes a few key positions from the final match; then Çetinel’s Turkish countryman, Sabri Büyüksoy, provides one of his signature essays, in which he profiles the new champion.

All this is not to say that nothing was happening domestically, with tournaments in Chicago in May and Michigan in July generating quite a buzz. On the way to winning the Markowitz Masters in Chicago, Giant #2, Michihito Kageyama (Michy) was paired with Giant #5 Matt Cohn-Geier. An epic match like this one is grist for the mill of USBGF Match Editor Marty Storer; and Marty does not disappoint, astutely analyzing ten key positions from the match. And in July it was Marty himself who took the spotlight, winning both the Michigan Summer Championship and the USBGF National Championship East!

Our tribute to the inaugural cohort of American Backgammon Hall of Fame honorees continues with USBGF Historian Robert Stoller’s interview of two-time world champion Bill Robertie who is featured on the cover. Bill is a gifted and prolific author, publisher, and promoter/director whose books have taught innumerable players both the basics and finer points of the game.

Each backgammon game begins with the opening; and in this issue expert Jeremy Bagai presents us, in an article entitled “Bagai’s Replies Surprise,” with a set of rules to make the choice of second-roll replies to opening moves foolproof. On another technical note, New Zealand’s Grant Hoffman shares a short cut, the “Rule of 8,” to facilitate over-the-board bearoff calculations of the 1296 possible two-roll dice combinations.

As the backgammon literature expands, players need extensive consumer reports to help keep up. In this issue Robert Stoller reviews Danish expert Marc Olsen’s new book, Backgammon: From Basics to Badass.

Online backgammon on the USBGF Circuit is a wonderful way to meet and test your skills against top players from around the world. The issue includes profiles of Dmitriy Obukhov and Walt Smith, winners of USBGF online tournaments, both of whom made the transition from chess to backgammon, as well as social player Genna Cowan. Supplementing his Hall-of-Fame duties, Robert Stoller gives us an insightful profile of Ed Sawyer, winner of the first USBGF Advanced Divisional.

USBGF President Bill Riles, in his message to the membership, urges members to participate in the upcoming election of directors and nominate qualified candidates for the American Backgammon Hall of Fame.

Check out the live and online tournament rankings and master points, Prime Clubs, upcoming events, and Get in the Game!

[Read more…]

PrimeTime Backgammon, July-Aug

July-August 2015 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

Joe Russell, fresh from victories at the U.S. Open and the Atlanta Masters Jackpot, appears on the cover of our August 2015 issue. A spectacularly successful competitor, Joe won the World Championship (Monte Carlo) in 1989 and has consistently scored ABT titles over the years. He is a member of the USBGF Board of Directors and has been instrumental in the development of its collegiate program and master points system.

In our feature article, USBGF Editor and World Team member Bob Wachtel reports on this year’s Nordic Open, presenting material from the World vs. Denmark team event (Denmark won in a squeaker) and from the main draw itself. In his analysis, Bob weighs in on a controversy that divides both players and teachers: calculation or vision? Bob’s moral: check twice before you make the pretty play!

Our coverage of the inaugural cohort of American Backgammon Hall of Fame honorees continues with USBGF Historian Robert Stoller’s interview of all-time great, Malcolm Davis. Stoller, director of the Anchorage Backgammon Club, conceived and executed the idea of video interviews of Hall of Fame inductees and the induction
ceremony. Along with a generous helping
of lore, anecdote, and general backgammon wisdom, Malcolm provides us with a his- tory of the Dallas Backgammon League (a USBGF Prime Club, known locally as DBL!).

An important segment of this issue is devoted to the memory of leading members of our community who passed away recently. In homage to Herb Gurland, USBGF Match Editor Marty Storer analyzes a fascinating match he played with Herb at the New England Backgammon Club tournament in 2001. Then Paul Weaver provides a more formal obituary, including reflections of just a few of Herb’s many friends on his love of the game and unique sense of humor. We end with a fond remembrance of Elayne Feinstein, the fun and feisty director of local clubs in Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale and the Florida State Championships.

On the tournament front, Ray Fogerlund reports on the U.S. Open in April, and Sabri Büyüksoy presents a pictorially stunning report on the Russian Sport Backgammon Federation tournament in Sochi, Russia in May. I feature the highlights of the “player- friendly” event, the 7th Atlanta Spring Classic (April).

Online backgammon on the USBGF Circuit is a wonderful way to meet and test your skills against top players from around the world. In this issue I profile Argentina’s Fernando Neumark, winner of the USBGF Masters Divisional IX.

USBGF President Bill Riles, in his message to the membership, appeals for support of the streaming, transcribing, and archiving of major tournament matches. He then briefs us on the progress of the USBGF’s latest initiatives.

Check out the live and online tournament rankings and master points, Prime Clubs, upcoming events, and Get in the Game!

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PrimeTime Backgammon, May-June

May-June 2015 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

Saba Bejanishvili, the recent Atlanta Spring Classic champion, graces the cover of the May-June 2015 issue of PrimeTime Backgammon. Saba grew up in the Republic of Georgia, and came to the U.S. to study neurology at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, He got seriously interested in backgammon in February 2013 when he purchased eXtreme Gammon software out of curiosity. Within one year he played in the 2014 Texas Backgammon Championships Dual-Duel event, defeating top players Matt Cohn-Geier and Petko Kostadinov on Performance Rating. His polite demeanor, discipline, and sportsmanship make him a role model for many aspiring backgammon players.

In our feature article, Marty Storer analyzes an exciting match between Saba and Mochy in the finals of the Dual-Duel event in 2014. Saba won on match score but Mochy’s PR carried the day.

There’s lots of interesting tournament news. Sabri Büyüksoy captures the Istavder tournament in Istanbul in February with 346 attendees from 16 countries in a wonderful photo montage. Our reporters cover the tournament beat. Ray Fogerlund reprises the DC Capital Classic Championships and Bob Wachtel shares news of the oldest running tournament in the US, the Vietor Cup.

Online backgammon on the USBGF Circuit is a wonderful way to meet and test your skills against top players from around the world. In this issue I profile three of our recent online winners: Masters Divisional winner Cüneyt Argun Genc (Turkey); Intermediate Division winner Deborah Ferolito (FL); and December 2014 Circuit winner John Gamalielson (WA). Winners of all 2014 online tournaments are competing in the USBGF Tournament of Champions.

In an age when cyberbullying is a growing source of concern, USBGF President Bill Riles shares his thoughts on the importance of treating players with respect and consideration, whether in person or in social media.

Check out the live and online tournament rankings and master points, Prime Clubs, upcoming events, and Get in the Game!

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Simborg Video Lesson: Doubling Window by John and Phil

Doubling Window by John O’Hagan and Phil Simborg, USBGF Teaching Pro. Enjoy!
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Simborg Video Lesson: Action Doubles 2

Action Doubles 2 by Phil Simborg, USBGF Teaching Pro. Enjoy!
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