• American Backgammon Hall of Fame

Art Benjamin

Art Benjamin over the board in action playing a backgammon game
From California

Art has been on the backgammon scene for over 30 years and has had tremendous success at the highest levels, finishing first, second, and third in the ABT, between 1993 and 1997. He is ranked 12th on the all-time ABT list, even though work prevents him from attending more than a few events a year. He won the first ABT Online Series in 2020 and is currently the number one player on the All-Time ABTO list. He has a Master Class One rating with the BMAB and recently recorded the lowest PR in the largest BMAB event ever held. He posted a stellar 3.3 PR and had far and away the strongest checker play in an exceptionally strong field.

He was a critical member of the USA Team that won The World Online Team Championship, which was a competition between 30 teams from throughout the world. His 7-3 record was critical to the team’s success.

But more than just a player, he is a scholar, a teacher, a volunteer, an innovator, and a mediator as well.

He is a professor of mathematics and has done and continues to do serious academic research into the game, publishing his results in research articles and a regular backgammon column called Math Overboard, which he writes for PrimeTime Magazine. These articles provide new and fundamental concepts pertaining to doubling, racing, match equities, and over-the-board shortcuts to improve the play of players at all levels. As a professor, he loves to teach and has given numerous talks at many backgammon tournaments over the past few years. Since 2011, he has served on the Board of Directors of the USBGF. He has written numerous books and created numerous video courses for the general public. One of these courses is on the Mathematics of Games and Puzzles, which features backgammon prominently.

In addition to his tremendous accomplishments as a player, teacher and innovator, he has been very instrumental to the success of U.S. backgammon and especially the USBGF. He is the Vice Chair and has served on many important committees and volunteered his valuable time and expertise in helping solve many pressing and important issues. He brings an intelligent perspective and calm demeanor to any committee he is on, creating a contagious and productive synergy. His calm approach and mediation skills have often been employed to help settle difficult issues or disputes. In addition to his work with the USBGF, for the past 10 years, he has run a backgammon workshop and playing session at the national meetings of the Mathematical Association of America, attracting new players to the game.

He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He went to college in Pittsburgh (Carnegie Mellon) where he played in his first tournaments run by the Pittsburgh Backgammon Association. He earned his Ph.D. in Mathematical Sciences from Johns Hopkins University, where he met his wife Deena. They were married at the Magic Castle in Hollywood and on June 20th will celebrate their 29th year of marriage. They have two daughters, Laurel and Ariel.

Since 1989, he has been a professor of mathematics at Harvey Mudd College in Southern California, where he holds an endowed professorship and has served as department chair. His research specialty is Combinatorics (clever ways of counting) along with probability and game theory.

He serves as President of the Fibonacci Association. He has traveled the world as a Mathemagician, combining his passions of mathematics and magic, and has appeared on several television programs, including CNN, The Today Show and the Colbert Report. He has been profiled in The New York Times, L.A. Times, Scientific American, and People magazine.

He has given three TED talks, which have been viewed over 50 million times. He has written seven books that share the beauty and magic of mathematics. His book, Secrets of Mental Math, has sold over 300,000 copies and his latest book, The Magic of Math, was a New York Times Bestseller.

He has won numerous awards for his teaching, writing, and promotion of mathematics, including the 2017 Communications Award from the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics. Reader’s Digest calls him “America’s Best Math Whiz.” He is a genuinely nice person, always displaying a calm demeanor, and he is willing to give his time to anyone of any level with a smile.