Time to Vote for the USBGF Board of Directors

Cast your vote by November 25th, 2023.
Vote for Board of Directors

The USBGF Board of Directors election is underway. All members in good standing are eligible to vote. Members may vote until 11:45 p.m. EST, Wednesday, November 25, 2023. Each member may submit only one ballot.

The vote will be taken through SurveyMonkey.com. Current members will receive an email from john@usbgf.org via SurveyMonkey <member@surveymonkeyuser.com>

The email will contain instructions on how to vote.

We have four board seats to fill and four candidates to choose from. Yes, there are four candidates for four seats, but our Bylaws require that we hold an election to fill the seats.  The candidates are:

Alex Eshaghian
April Mesich (incumbent)
Rich Munitz
Ian Terry

Candidate bios and photos are below.

Members may vote for 1 to 4 candidates. A candidate may receive only one vote from a member.

Should you have any difficulties in voting, or if you do not receive an invitation to vote, or have any questions regarding the voting process, please email John Pirner at: John@usbgf.org.

2023 Board of Director Candidates

Alex Eshaghian

Why do you want to join the board?

I have been playing backgammon since a child and it is a passion for me and I would like others to enjoy it as much as I do.

What do you want to accomplish as a board member?

These are some specific goals I have in mind as a board member of the USBGF:

  • Improving attendance at local and ABT tournaments. I have taken an informal survey to see what people are interested in and I would like to pass on the results to the USBGF.
  • Improving streaming videos at tournaments. I would like to have an “how to” in writing.
  • Look for sponsorship opportunities.
  • Encouraging an environment where everyone works together in the benefit of the game.

What skills and expertise will you bring to the board?

These are some of my accomplishments in backgammon:

  • Written multiple books: opening strategies, opening replies, early game blitzes, backgame strategy
  • Started a YouTube channel with over 100 videos, over 20,000 views, and over 300 subscribers
  • Contribute to online forums
  • Been a member of the USBGF since inception
  • Assisted running local tournaments in Los Angeles
  • Started a backgammon club at UCLA
  • Currently working on making business cards for local tournaments
  • Created a bracket for weekly tournaments
  • Won multiple tournaments including Los Angeles Open (intermediate), Gammon Associates Tournament of Champions, and many Gammon Associates weekly tournaments
  • Provided commentary at the 2023 Los Angeles Open
  • I will be helping with the USBGF online match in collaboration with Jason Lee.
  • I have had discussions with April Mesich regarding creating more videos.
  • I have donated the dice distribution spreadsheet to the USBGF which is being used as an incentive for premium membership.
  • I would like to create a USBGF series on my YouTube channel to help promote the USBGF.

April Mesich

Over the past three years, I have had the privilege of working alongside dedicated and passionate individuals who share a deep love for the game of backgammon. During my tenure, I have also served as the head of marketing, allowing me to apply my professional expertise to enhance our organization’s outreach, engagement, and visibility. 

As a working board member, I have actively shaped the strategic direction of the U.S. Backgammon Federation (USBGF). I have helped to drive initiatives that have strengthened our community, expanded our membership, and increased our presence at regional and national events. It is crucial that we continue to promote backgammon as a game of skill, strategy, and camaraderie, and I am committed to advancing these goals.

If re-elected, I will continue to focus on the following key areas:

1. Inviting and Welcoming More Players: I am dedicated to growing our membership base and ensuring our organization remains inclusive and welcoming to players of all skill levels. By doing so, we can create a more vibrant and diverse backgammon community.

2. Promotion and Outreach: Building on my experience in marketing, I will continue to promote the USBGF through various channels, including social media, email, newsletters, collaborations with other backgammon organizations, and utilizing a $10k per month grant from Google to run ads. This will help us reach new audiences and showcase the beauty of the game.

3. Expanding Opportunities to Play:  I’m committed to enhancing opportunities for you to play backgammon, whether in person, online, nationally, or locally, to enhance your enjoyment of the game. 

4. Transparency and Accountability: I believe in open communication and accountability. I will work to ensure that our members have access to information about the decisions and actions of the board. We need to be responsive to your feedback and concerns.

I am truly dedicated to the mission of the USBGF, and I am confident that, by working together, we can achieve even greater success in the years to come. 

Thank you for your trust, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve you and the USBGF.

Rich Munitz

Each Director should add value to the Board. I know the dynamics of the USBGF Board from my past service and know the value that I add. I contribute as a strategist, communicator and a voice of reason. It is not easy to find the right path and build consensus among a large Board of 13. It often requires someone who is able and willing to articulate key issues and rationale in a way everyone can understand. I ask hard questions. I am willing to challenge. But I believe in the USBGF Board’s long standing culture of acting by consensus; I work to achieve it and provide valuable glue to make the Board more cohesive and effective.

I have always been and will continue to be a doer, not just a talker. We need doers. I will continue to lead development of the USBGF’s tournament software. I will remain deeply involved with tournament and ABT rules and policies including working with our international partners, with the ABT and USBGF master points systems, statistics and other means of recognition.

I ask for your vote so that I may continue to represent and serve you and all members of the backgammon community. I promise that I have always and will always place the interests of the USBGF and its members ahead of my own; I will always advocate for and do what’s right.

Ian Terry

Ever since attending my first ABT tournament in 2016, I’ve been thrilled to be a part of the U.S. backgammon community. While our favorite game’s presence is growing thanks to the efforts of the current Board, we must look to the future and find ways to accelerate this growth. My main motivation for running is two-fold. First, I believe that I can offer a younger perspective to the existing Board that may help us tap into new markets to bring new players into the game. Second, I believe that we can make the game more enjoyable for the current player base by applying data-driven decision-making to matters like tournament eligibility and financial resource planning. I would be honored to represent our fun and vibrant community as a member of the Board.

As I mentioned, I believe that I can bring a younger perspective to the Board that could help us expand our player base. The USBGF has recently taken great strides in expanding its presence onto newer, more relevant social media platforms to attract a wider audience. I would be strongly interested in helping the USBGF leverage these platforms to their fullest extent.

For example, not long ago at the local Houston Club, we had a college-aged player show up at one of our tournaments. He remarked that he had found our club by happening across streamed footage from a recent USBGF tournament (while looking for chess videos, of course). He was familiar with several players at our Houston club from the stream, as well as some of the commentators he enjoyed (namely, Carter Mattig). The next month, the young player brought along three of his friends from his university – all of whom are now club regulars. The whole sequence of events got me thinking, “this is how we grow the game.” As a member of the Board, I would like to emphasize high-quality streaming at major tournaments that is aimed at entertaining, educating, and promoting tournaments to new players, while still offering up agreat viewing experience for seasoned pros. Chess is currently going through a renaissance of sorts due to a surge of streaming, savvy influencers, and influx of chess content. There is no reason that backgammon can’t take advantage of these platforms similarly and see a boom of its own.

In addition to making the game more appealing to new players, I hope that my election to the Board would lead to better playing experiences for existing players. In the past year, I joined the USBGF Eligibility Committee as a founding member (along with Dmitriy Obukhov, Roberto Litzenberger, Jonah Seewald, and Rory Pascar), and we have introduced data-driven guidelines for tournament division skill levels. Under Rory’s direction, we have seen a significant number of former intermediates “play up” to the open division and, often, find success there (on a personal note, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a “borderline” player move up to the open and have a great showing). This has helped true intermediates have positive playing experiences and allows for the middle division to serve as a training ground for the stars of tomorrow. As a member of the board, my experiences as a data consultant will be helpful in bringing a data-driven methodology to other areas of the organization that will increase the overall player experience. This can be implemented to help directors introduce many smaller “quality of life” improvements to the tournament scene. Additionally, I believe it could be used to identify locales that are underrepresented on the ABT tour so that the geographic diversity of offered tournaments can be improved.

As a current Mission Bronze sponsor, I love to contribute the USBGF. It Is my sincere hope that you’ll consider voting for me so that I can contribute in a brand new way as a member of the Board!

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