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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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.

[Read more…]

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?

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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!

[Read more…]

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!

[Read more…]

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!

[Read more…]

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!

[Read more…]

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!

[Read more…]

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!

[Read more…]

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!

[Read more…]

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!

[Read more…]

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!

[Read more…]

PrimeTime Backgammon, Mar-Apr

March-Apil 2015 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

We’re delighted with the positive response we’ve gotten to the USBGF bi-monthly PrimeTime Backgammon magazine. The electronic issue of the magazine is now available to all Premium and Youth members without charge. The print edition, at $25 a copy plus shipping, is increasingly in demand. If you’d like to subscribe to purchase a print version, sign up for automatic recurring purchase through our USBGF BG Shop and receive a 5 percent discount.

Victor Ashkenazi, the #11 ranked Giant of Backgammon, graces the cover of the March-April 2015 issue of PrimeTime Backgammon. Victor is off to a great start in 2015, leading in the newly-implemented USBGF Live Master Points System, with strong performances at both the New York Metro and the Texas Backgammon Championships, as well as the USBGF National Championship West. Having kept a low profile for years, Victor has emerged as one of backgammon’s superstars, winning a coveted place on the World Team in the Nordic Open’s 2014 event: The World vs. Denmark. In an insightful interview, Phil Simborg reveals the secrets behind Victor’s mastery.

In our feature article, Marty Storer analyzes an exciting final match between Bill Robertie (twice world champion and a recent Hall-of-Fame inductee) and fellow Bostonian Matt Reklaitis at the Connecticut State Championships last October.

Next, Stick, one of the world’s foremost opening experts, provides another fascinating column on first-roll responses. His subject this time: how to play 6-3 in response to an opening 5-4 split.

I hope you didn’t miss the American Backgammon Hall of Fame inaugural induction in San Antonio – but whether you made it or not, in this issue you’ll find heart-warming excerpts from the ceremony and a link to a video of the event.

The tournament scene has been action-packed of late, fueled by the launch of the USBGF Prime Tournament initiative (which provides added money in tournaments for USBGF members). We saw 128 entries to the NY Metro Mini-Match and 96 entries to the Texas USBGF Prime Tournament Freeroll! Our reporters cover the tournament beat. My article shows off the bright lights of the NY Metro; Ray Fogerlund reprises the Texas Backgammon Championships, with a special focus on the Dual Duel; and Steve Sax captures highlights of the California State Championships.

Backgammon is a game that attracts brilliant people and interesting personalities. Interviewing them is always a treat for me. In this issue I profile four of our recent online winners: Masters Divisional winners Frank Simon (Germany) and Igor Erovenko (currently leader of the USBGF Online Master Points race); Ralph Desimone, Advanced Divisional VI winner; and Harvey Gillis, winner of the November 2014 Circuit.

Putting a ribbon and bow on this issue, USBGF President Bill Riles brings us an update on the Federation’s recent membership growth.

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

[Read more…]

PrimeTime Backgammon, Jan-Feb

January-February 2015 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

A special treat is in store for our readers. This issue features the inaugural American Backgammon Hall of Fame inductees — with snapshots of each of the 13 honorees, an insightful essay by Jeremy Bagai on the class, a description by Karen Davis of the process used to select these individuals, and plans going forward by Bill Riles, USBGF President and Executive Director.

Ted Chee, USBGF All-Time and 2014 Online Master Points winner was honored along with the Hall of Famers at the USBGF Awards dinner in San Antonio on January 30, 2015. He is featured in a report on the online master point leaders since the launch of the USBGF Online Tournament Circuit in the fall of 2012.

Ray Fogerlund, who won the coveted #1 spot on the American Backgammon Tour for 2014, is profiled by Karen Davis. A feature on Frank Raposa, #2 ABT winner for 2014, is reprinted with permission from his hometown Fitchburg, Massachusetts newspaper, the Sentinel & Enterprise.

Stick makes his debut as a regular columnist for PrimeTime Backgammon with his first article on common errors in the early game that result in significant match equity loss.

This issue also showcases Bill Phipps, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” in an article by Iancho Hristov. Other player profiles by Karen Davis include: Jonah Seewald, 2014 USBGF Grand Champion; and Zdenìk Žižka from the Czech Republic, winner of the online Masters Divisional IV.

And there are tournament reports galore: the inaugural U.K. Open by Peter Bennet, the Japan Open by Jake Jacobs, and the 2nd Merit Open in Cyprus by Sabri Büyüksoy on the international scene, and the Illinois State by Linda Rockwell closer to home. The Kansas City Backgammon Club, formed a decade ago by Eric Barr, is thriving with the addition of Julius High and his popular Backgammon Study Group. It is the newest addition to the USBGF list of 15 Prime Clubs.

Finally, USBGF President Bill Riles brings us up to date on the Federation with the recent election of Board members Julius High and Michelle Steinberg. Make plans to attend 2015 Prime Tournaments including the upcoming D.C. Capital Classic, the Ohio State Championships, the U.S. Open in Las Vegas, Atlanta Spring Classic, Chicago Open, Los Angeles Open, and the Michigan Summer Championships and take home added money exclusively for USBGF members!

Check out the live and online tournament rankings, and Get in the Game!

[Read more…]

PrimeTime Backgammon Magazine Indexes

Full list of magazines here
JAN – FEB 2016

  • 2016 American Backgammon Hall Of Fame Inductees by Bill Riles And Jeremy Bagai
  • Abridged Interview With Goulding And Senkiewicz by Robert Stoller
  • Presser Versus Simon: Final Of The 2014 Online Toc by Marty Storer And David Presser
  • One Man’s Meat by Jake Jacobs
  • 3rd Merit Open by Sabri Büyüksoy
  • Art Benjamin by Phil Simborg
  • Ray Cifani by Karen Davis
  • 2015 Seattle Backgammon Classic by Ray Fogerlund
  • Flashback App By Bagai: Backgammon Flashcards by Bruce J. Farquhar
  • Qualifying Prime Clubs
  • Live Tournament Results
  • Online Circuit Winners
  • Upcoming Tournaments
  • President’s Column By Bill Riles
  • Newest USBGF Directors
  • Founding Sponsors
  • Master Point Leaders By Rich Munitz
  • National Leaderboard By Barry Silliman
  • Online Leaderboard By Tara Mendicino

2016 MAR – JUN

  • 2016 American Backgammon Hall Of Fame Awards Dinner By Bill Riles And Robert Stoller
  • Abridged Interview With Goulding And Senkiewicz By Robert Stoller
  • Too Good At The New York Metro Open: Stick Vs. Phipps By Paul Weaver
  • USA Versus The World By Steve Sax
  • 2016 Texas Backgammon Championships By Bill Riles And Tara Mendicino
  • Brian Lonergan By Phil Simborg
  • Cynthia Belonogoff By Karen Davis
  • Jason Marshall By Karen Davis
  • Regional Team Tournaments By Chuck Bower, David Rockwell, Karen Davis, Carol Joy Cole, And Sean Garber
  • Qualifying Prime Clubs
  • Live Tournament Results
  • Online Circuit Winners
  • Upcoming Tournaments
  • President’s Column By Bill Riles
  • Founding Sponsors
  • National Leaderboard By Barry Silliman
  • Online Leaderboard By Tara Mendicino

2016 Summer

  • 4th USBGF Club Team Championship By Dmitriy Obukhov.
  • Backgame Checker Play At The Texas Championships By Paul Weaver.
  • Opening Cubes By David Presser And Igor Erovenko.
  • Gibraltar: Rolling On The Rock By Bob Wachtel.
  • 2016 Nordic Open By Jesper Carlsson.
  • Robert Wachtel By Vera Degtiarova.
  • It’s A Family Affair By Karen Davis.
  • Barry Silliman By Karen Davis.
  • Atlanta Spring Classic By Stuart Thomson.
  • Ohio State Championships By Karen Davis.
  • Live Tournament Results – ABT In Atlanta, Washington D.C., Chicago, And Los Angeles.
  • Online Circuit Winners Through Mid May 2016.
  • Upcoming Tournaments Upcoming ABT Tournaments And USBGF Online Events.
  • President’s Column By Bill Riles.
  • Founding Sponsors Master Point Leaders For 2016.
  • Online Leaderboard See The Latest Leaders BY Tara Mendicino.

2016 Fall

  • Abridged Interview with Patrick Gibson By Robert Stoller
  • Klein Vs. Senkiewicz: Liberty Cup Masters Final By Marty Storer
  • The 2016 Dual-Duel By Steve Sax
  • A-B Approach To Opening Cubes By David Presser And Igor Erovenko
  • The Greatest Redouble Ever By Malcolm Davis
  • Bespoke Backgammon: Geoffrey Parker Games By Robert Stoller
  • The 41st Backgammon World Championship By Bill Riles
  • The Other Georgia By Bob Wachtel
  • Live Tournament Results
  • Online Circuit Winners Through Early August 2016.
  • President’s Column By Bill Riles
  • Founding Sponsors – Thanks To Our Newest Founding Sponsors.
  • Master Point Leaders Check Out The Top-Ten Players in Both the USBGF National And Online Master Points Races For 2016.
  • National Leader board – Leaders In USBGF Elo Ratings In Live Events and 2016 ABT Points. By Barry Silliman
  • Online Leader board – Leaders from USBGF Online Tournaments, Plus Wins, Losses, And Tournaments Won By Tara Mendicino

2017 Winter

  • The MFIC: Patrick Gibson. By Bill Riles
  • Nation’s Capitol 2016. By Ray Fogerlund
  • Michigan Summer Championships. By Paul Weaver
  • 2016 London Open. By Julia Hayward With Comments By Brendan Burgess and Anna Clarke
  • 4th Merit Cyprus Open By Blake Fleetwood
  • Doubles Dilemmas in Cyprus By Bob Wachtel with Commentary By Christian Sorensen
  • Growing Backgammon Through Social Media By Karen Davis
  • The Great Jim Scott By Malcolm Davis
  • Chicago Open By Bill Riles
  • Prime Club Awards
  • Live Tournament Results
  • AT Final Standings for 2016
  • USBGF President and Executive Director announces latest developments to grow the backgammon community. By Bill Riles
  • Founding Sponsors – newest Gold Founding Sponsor Arkadiy Tsinis; Silver Founding Sponsor Russell Sands; and Bronze Founding Sponsors Shay Asraff, Ed Rosenblum, and Kirby Domingue
  • Master Point Leaders for 2016.
  • National Leader board: Open, Advanced, and Novice leaders in USBGF Elo ratings in live events and 2016 ABT Points. By Barry Silliman
  • Online Leader board

2017 Spring

  • 2017 American Backgammon Hall Of Fame Awards Dinner
  • Inductees Joseph Russell & Mike Svobodny by Jeremy Bagai
  • Inductees Joseph Russell & Ray Fogerlund by Steve Sax
  • Norm Wiggins by Steve Sax
  • Louise GOLDSMITH by Michael Senkiewicz
  • Memories of Louise by Karen Davis, Mike Svobodny, And Martha Ghio
  • Checker Play After An Opening Cube by David Presser And Igor Erovenko
  • Backgammon Is As Easy As…1-2-3 by Steve Sax
  • The Changing Of The Guard by Bill Riles
  • Tom Buckner by Phil Simborg
  • Rodryk Schönfeld by Karen Davis
  • 2017 New York Metro Open by Bill Riles and Karen Davis
  • Live Tournament Results
  • 2017 ABT Standings Top 6
  • Chairman’s Message USBGF by Joseph Russell
  • Founding Sponsors
  • Master Point Leaders
  • Online Circuit Winners
  • Upcoming Tournaments

2017 Summer

  • Abridged Interview With Neil Kazaross By Robert Stoller
  • 2017 Ohio State Championships By Stick
  • Cube Action In The Cherry Blossom Final By Paul Weaver
  • Saving The Gammon On The Last Roll By Marty Storer
  • Forty-Year Milestone For The U.S. Open By Robert Stoller
  • House Of Cards By Ed Rosenblum
  • 2017 Cherry Blossom Championship By Steve Sax
  • Conquering Backgammon: Viking Style! By Blake Fleetwood
  • How To Compensate Players Not Eligible For Byes By Art Benjamin And Patrick Gibson
  • Grant Hoffman By Karen Davis
  • Gerry Tansey By Karen Davis
  • Primetime Exclusive
  • Photography By Doris Auer
  • President’s Column By Karen Davis
  • Your USBGF Membership
  • USBGF National & Online Stats
  • Master Point Leaders
  • Online Leaderboard By Tara Mendicino
  • Online Circuit Winners

2017 Fall

  • Abridged Interview With Joseph Russell By Robert Stoller
  • 2016 Federation Cup Final By Marty Storer
  • Worldwide Trophy Ii: Tbilisi 2017 By Bob Wachtel
  • 42nd Backgammon World Championship By Bill Riles
  • The World Championship Final From My Perspective By Bill Riles
  • Malcolm Davis Quiz: Part I By Malcolm Davis
  • Viking Horde Plunders Wisconsin’s Cheese By Ray Fogerlund
  • Fazil Terlemez: 20th Anniversary Of Fth Boards By Alexander And Doris Auer
  • Ross Gordon By Karen Davis
  • 1972 World Chess Championship By Robert Stoller
  • Live Tournament Results
  • 2017 ABT Standings Top 60
  • Chairman’s Message By Joseph Russell
  • President’s Column By Karen Davis
  • Founding Sponsors
  • Master Point Leaders
  • Online Leaderboard
  • Online Circuit Winners
  • Upcoming Tournaments

2018 Winter

  • Abridged Interview With Lee Genud by Robert Stoller
  • Mamlet And Ashkenazi: Duel For Michigan Masters by Paul Weaver
  • 2016 & 2017 USBGF National Championships by Ray Fogerlund
  • Malcolm Davis Quiz: Part II By Malcolm Davis
  • Carter Beats The Machine: World’s Richest Tournament by Blake Fleetwood
  • New International Champion by Taylor Hartz, Chicago Sun-Times
  • Chris Knapp: Champion In Canadian Contest by Marty Storer And Karen Davis
  • Ken Bame: Winner Of The 3rd USBGF Director’s Cup by Karen Davis
  • 2017 USBGF Prime Club Players Of The Year by Karen Davis
  • Local Affiliated Clubs List
  • Live Tournament Results
  • ABT Final Standings For 2017: Matt Cohn-Geier, Ed O’Laughlin, and Antoinette Williams will be honored at the 2018 USBGF awards.
  • Chairman’s Message: 2018 Board of Directors members are announced by Joseph Russell
  • President’s Column: USBGF president and executive director shares her five major goals for 2018 by Karen Davis
  • Founding Sponsors: Thanks To Our Newest Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Corporate Founding Sponsors
  • Master Point Leaders: The Top-Ten Players In Both the USBGF National and Online Master Points For 2017
  • Online Leaderboard: The Latest Leaders From USBGF Online Tournaments
  • Online Circuit Winners: View The List Of USBGF Members Who Have Won
  • Upcoming Tournaments: Mark Your Calendar and attend these exciting ABT and USBGF events taking place across the country

2018 Spring

  • 2018 American Backgammon Hall Of Fame Awards Dinner
  • Tributes To Paul Magriel Introduction By Karen Davis
  • Documenting Magriel By Robert Stoller
  • 2017 Las Vegas Open Championship Final By Paul Weaver
  • 2017 California State Championship By Ray Fogerlund
  • Adjusting Opening Cube Action To Match Play By David Presser And Igor Erovenko
  • 6th Texas Backgammon Championships By Bill Riles
  • Candace Mayeron 2017 California State: Interview By Karen Davis
  • Local Club Initiative By Karen Davis And Ray Bills
  • 2018 ABT Standings Top 60
  • President’s Column By Karen Davis
  • Founding Sponsors
  • Master Point Leaders
  • Online Leaderboard
  • Online Circuit Winners
  • Tournament Calendar
  • Upcoming Tournaments

2018 Summer

  • My Life With Paul Magriel And The Genesis Of Bg’s Bible by Renée Magriel Roberts
  • Countering The 66 Reply by Albert Steg
  • Searching For Backgammon Brilliancy by Bob Wachtel
  • Kazaross Reigns: 2018 U.S. Open At Las Vegas by Bill Riles
  • Featured Photography by Peter Senzamici
  • Cherry Blossom Attracts A Strong Field by Karen Davis
  • 38th Chicago Open by Bill Riles
  • Featured Photography by Brian Schilling
  • Martin Filipi: Winner Of 2017 USBGF Online ToC by Marty Storer and Karen Davis
  • A Day At Gammoner Boards: Volker Wenzlaff by Alexander Auer
  • Featured Photography By Doris Auer
  • Robertie’s 501 Essential Backgammon Problems by Robert Stoller
  • Live Tournament Results
  • 2018 ABT Standings Top 60
  • President’s Column by Karen Davis
  • Founding Sponsors
  • Master Point Leaders
  • Online Leaderboard
  • Online Circuit Winners
  • Upcoming Tournaments

2019 Winter

  • Super Jackpot: Karen Davis Vs. Sebastian Wilkinson By Marty Storer
  • 4th Montenegro Grand Prix By Karen Davis
  • Learning In Texas By Jeff Proctor
  • 2019 Atlanta Spring Classic By Bill Riles
  • Cherry Blossom Showcases Backgammon Stars by Karen Davis
  • 39th Chicago Open by Bill Riles
  • Shots From The Bar And The 2EH Formula by Art Benjamin
  • Interview With Karen Davis Interview By Robert Stoller
  • Illegal Moves by Richard Munitz
  • Live Tournament Results
  • President’s Column by Karen Davis
  • Founding Sponsors
  • 2019 ABT Standings Top 60
  • Master Point Leaders
  • Online Leaderboard
  • Online Circuit Winners
  • Upcoming Tournaments

PrimeTime Backgammon, Nov-Dec

November-December 2014 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon 

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

Petko Kostadinov has emerged as the #6 ranked Giant of Backgammon — winning the International Backgammon Championship II in 2013 and the Tournament of Champions at the 2013 Chicago Open, joining the World Team for the 2014 Nordic Open, and most recently winning the Land of Lincoln Masters Jackpot in Illinois. In this issue Marty Storer, USBGF Editor for Annotated Matches, analyzes Petko’s 2014 Texas Championships Dual-Duel match with Saba Bejanishvili, where both played phenomenally, at under 3.0 PR. Petko and Saba then teamed up to win the 2014 USBGF Tournament of Stars, a doubles event for USBGF Founding Sponsors and Giants of Backgammon.

Jason Pack, recent winner of the UK Open and the 2014 Nordic Open Super Jackpot, and a finalist in the 2014 London Open Professionals’ Tournament, concludes his three-part series on the 2013 World Backgammon Championship match between Slava Pryadkin and Lars Trabolt, contrasting their aggressive and conservative cube strategies. Slava’s recube to 4 at 11-away/16-away, which XG++ deems a .109 blunder, was, as Jason explains, the tactic of a world champion — rewarded with a backgammon on a dramatic double-fives final roll.

Ray Fogerlund, current ABT-points leader, provides an in-person account of the DC Capital Classic. Karen Davis covers the 11th Carolina Invitational, and two regional events: the Ohio-Michigan Team Challenge and the Maryland-Virginia-DC Team Challenge.

This issue showcases two online tournament winners: Irina Litzenberger, winner of the May Circuit; and our own Bill Riles, winner of the June Circuit. Open and Advanced division winners of the 2013-2014 National Internet Championship, Jacob Atie and Tom Christner are profiled.

Finally, USBGF President Bill Riles brings us up to date on the Federation’s 2014 accomplishments, 2015 plans, and goals for the future of the organization. Planning and fund-raising for the Prime Tournament initiative are well underway, with Prime Benefactors contributing added money for USBGF-member players. The NY Metropolitan Open will kick off the Prime Tournament roster, followed quickly by the Texas Backgammon Championships, the D.C. Capital Classic, Ohio, and Atlanta. Make your plans to attend now!

Check out the live and online tournament rankings, and Get in the Game!
[Read more…]

PrimeTime Backgammon, Sept-Oct

September-October 2014 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon 

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

Cover-Sept-Oct-2014-thumbEach year in August, players from around the world flock to backgammon’s mecca, Monte Carlo, for the gala tournament known as the “World Championship.” This year’s event, the 39th episode in its illustrious history, drew 224 players to the Main flight. The September-October 2014 issue of PrimeTime Backgammon maintains the international flavor of our coverage (the July-August issue featured an in-depth trio of articles on the 2014 Nordic Open and the Denmark vs. the World match) with an analysis of the final match, between Japan’s Akiko Yazawa and the USA’s Doug Mayfield, presented by participant and journalist Jason Pack. Jason’s close analysis of the strategic nuances of play is complemented by a stunning photo essay on the elegant spectacle, prepared by our Turkish correspondent, Sabri Büyüksoy.

Akiko won the prestigious crown with a spectacular comeback at DMP. With uncanny timing, Paul Weaver presaged her victory by preparing for this issue an in-depth analysis of her win over John O’Hagan at the Michigan Summer Championships in July. Along with his breakdown of the backgammon, Paul provides a first-hand description of this “must-attend” Michigan event – whose turnout, now that it no longer overlaps Monte Carlo – burgeoned to an impressive 175 entrants including side event entrants. Mochy provides an update on his PR 4.0 Club, which now numbers seven individuals, including most recently Paul Weaver.

We follow Paul’s article with another generous helping of world-class analysis – this time provided by the American legend and Giant #10, Stick Rice. Stick surveys the final match of the USBGF Tournament of Champions, between the young U.S. expert Ben Friesen and Germany’s Tilman Söhnchen. Twenty-nine winners of U.S. Backgammon Federation online tournaments from October 2012 to December 2013 competed in the event, with Friesen emerging victorious.

We are always interested in introducing our readers to the diverse galaxy of accomplished individuals who make up our community. This issue showcases a number of online tournament winners, including Peter Toftsø, winner of the USBGF Masters Divisional I; David Kettler, winner of the USBGF April 2014 Circuit; and Ted Chee, winner of the USBGF Circuit Monthly for December 2013. As a special treat, we explore the advanced training methods employed by the emerging Midwest star, Julius High. Julius’s concept of “backgammon study groups” deserves the attention of all serious students of the game.

Patti Rubin outlines her plans for the best ever 40th Backgammon World Championship in 2015. Correspondent Jason Pack offers his suggestions for improving players’ experience.

Finally, USBGF President Bill Riles brings us up to date on the Federation’s latest programs and initiatives, including a Prime Tournament designation with added money for USBGF members, a U.S. Backgammon Hall of Fame, and an annual USBGF Awards Dinner. All of these projects are designed to benefit USBGF members, encourage live and online tournament participation, and to recognize achievement.

Check out the live and online tournament rankings, and Get in the Game!

[Read more…]

PrimeTime Backgammon, July-Aug

July-August 2014 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon 

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

Cover-July-August-2014-thumbDespite its population of only 6 million, Denmark has done more than any other country, over the last two decades, to spearhead the revitalization of backgammon and to foster a truly international community for the game. This issue of PrimeTime Backgammon puts a spotlight on that small country’s gala annual backgammon festival, the Nordic Open: the “toughest tournament in the world,” and one accompanied by a unique challenge match: Denmark vs. the World. Our coverage begins with a couple of far-ranging and candid interviews conducted before the event by the Bulgarian expert, Iancho Hristov, with playing captains Thomas Kristensen (Denmark) and Mochy Mochizuki (World). With the stage thus set, we move to the big match itself, with an eyewitness report by our editor and World team member, Bob Wachtel. Bob adds local color to his account by highlighting not only the actual moves that were played in the match but also the heated discussions, banter, and fearless side betting that accompanied them. Our Turkish friend Sabri Büyüksoy completes the Scandinavian sketch by sharing with us his panoramic photographic portrayal of the event.

Not that the U.S. does not have some superstrong tournaments itself. The release of the Giants of Backgammon list brought a number of Giants to Rory Pascar’s Chicago Open to receive their certificates. Five of the top six Giants participated (Chicagoan Neil Kazaross was sidelined for health reasons). Paul Weaver analyzes a round-robin match in the World Backgammon Tournament of Champions between #3 and #5 Giants, Falafel Natanzon and Matt Cohn-Geier. Jake Jacobs provides his own witty take on the Giants list.

We also showcase #8 Giant Bob Wachtel’s new book, In the Game Until the End, Volume II, a sequel to his pioneering 1993 pre-bot-era study of ace-point endings. Reviewing the book, John O’Hagan calls it a “great work” and a “must read” for serious students of the game. As Bob explains it, “some of the most intriguing – and mysterious – positions in the backgammon universe lie at contact’s 11th hour. Holding the opponent’s ace point, a competitor is ‘in the game until the end’ – an end which can run the gamut from utter disaster to miraculous deliverance.” After a hiatus of 20 years, Bob finally deploys the cuttingedge tool of deep computer (XG) rollout analysis to debug his prior research and to carefully extend it to a variety of more complex ace-point endings.

Around the U.S. tournament scene, we feature Steve Sax’s report on the LA Open, where perennial winner Ray Fogerlund added the LA championship title to his U.S. Open and California State Championship crowns, making him this year’s King of the West. We also profile: an outstanding club, Barry Silliman’s Beltway Backgammon Club; an active female player, Michelle Steinberg; and a promising junior, young Max Crosner. Finally, USBGF President Bill Riles brings us up to date on the Federation’s latest programs and initiatives, all designed to increase member benefits, encourage member participation, and recruit new blood from the great mass of recreational American backgammon players. Check out the live and online tournament rankings, and Get in the Game!

[Read more…]

PrimeTime Backgammon, May-June

Young Lions Make Their Mark:
May-June 2014 Issue of PrimeTime Backgammon 

By Karen Davis, Managing Editor

Cover-May-June-2014-thumbThis content-packed issue of PrimeTime Backgammon  shines the spotlight on strong new players — Saba Bejanishvili, Julius High, and David Presser. Marty Storer provides an analysis of a match between shooting star Saba Bejanishvili of Marietta, Georgia (who also hails from the Republic of Georgia) and Giant of Backgammon Matt Cohn-Geier (MCG) in the Dual-Duel event at the Texas Backgammon Championships. Saba stunned the online audience by winning on performance rating and score against MCG. Recently, he won the Tournament of Champions at the Chicago Open.

Ray Fogerlund reports on the Atlanta tournament, highlighting Julius High’s amazing trifecta: the Championship division, the Atlanta Cup jackpot, and the Seniors event. Ray also pays his respects to Frank Talbot, who captured the Bob Wilensky Memorial Masters.

See especially the profile of David Presser, the winner of the February and March 2014 USBGF Online Circuit and another of the young lions making their early mark in the backgammon world. David had the second highest score (after Falafel) on Mochy’s 4th Proficiency Exam administered at the Chicago Open.

Washington DC has emerged as a backgammon powerhouse. The Beltway Backgammon Club, under the directorship of Barry Silliman, has dominated the USBGF National Club Team Championship, with a second place finish in the inaugural event in 2011, first and second in 2012, and first in 2013. Frank Raposa, Jason Lee, and Bob Koca (the FrankLee Unflappable team) each provide commentary on the 2013 finals matches with the Jersey Boys (Jeff Acierno, Alan Grunwald, and Artie Sutton). Frank Raposa just won the Championship division of the Chicago Open, taking the lead in the ABT points race for the year.

Bill Davis shares with us his impressions of the Central States Invitational at the beginning of March, and I report, in prose and photos, on the 20th anniversary of the Ohio State Backgammon Championships in Cleveland in late March.

USBGF President Bill Riles explains the new USBGF policy on Legal Moves — a stance that was adopted by players voting at the Las Vegas U.S. Open tournament in April.

There’s much more — Jason Pack, with a breakthrough year himself, continues with his analysis of the World Backgammon Championship match between Slava and Lars. Paul Weaver analyzes a match between #1 Giant Mochy and #2 Giant Michy at the 2013 Las Vegas Open.

Congratulations to our latest USBGF Prime Clubs: Dallas Backgammon League, Arizona Backgammon Club, Las Vegas Backgammon Club, and Colorado Backgammon Club!

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

[Read more…]

PrimeTime Backgammon, Mar-Apr



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


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



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…]