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BWW April Newsletter



We have big news this month! We have expanded our board of directors, adding Melanie Hughes and Irina Litzenberger to our group of committed women in the competitive world of backgammon.

 

 Both Melanie and Irina have already demonstrated their skills at the tournament tables. They're both dedicated to our mission and the journey to provide excellence and honor in everything we do.

 

We're grateful they agreed to join our board and to help steer us in new directions and hone our results in the commitments we've already made.



"I started playing backgammon online in late 2020 during COVID, as a pastime when other ways of interacting were limited. It was fascinating. I learned through videos, books and articles.

 

“As the world opened up again in October 2021, I found a local club in my town and played my first game on a backgammon board, met some great people… I was hooked! They persuaded me to go to the Connecticut tournament where I won the Novice division.

 

“As a competitive person who loves a challenge, this was so much fun for me. I went on to play in the New York tournament and in Florida, where I won the doubles with my partner Jerry Shea (beating my idol Michy in the final), and won the Consolation in the Women’s event. 

 

“Since then I have met many wonderful people who have taught me a lot, notably Karen Davis and Roberto Litzenberger, who is my coach.

 

“As a woman who was often the only female at the executive table, I fought for other women to progress and to provide the opportunities for them to succeed and be represented at the highest levels in the corporate world. I want to take that experience and apply it to the backgammon world - supporting women to compete and succeed, but most of all, get enjoyment out of this wonderful game.

 

“WWB has made great progress in increasing women’s participation. We have a big opportunity to open the door for women to compete in tournaments, learn and participate at the highest levels in the backgammon world.” 

- Melanie Hughes



 “I learned how to play backgammon as a teenager, and later, I learned to play it more seriously, though I thought I already knew how. Now, I realize that I will be learning backgammon forever!

 

“Playing backgammon started simply as a fun game to play at home in the afternoons and evenings. Everything changed when Roberto, my husband, began studying the game back when we lived in Buenos Aires. As we played, he shared some of the things he was learning, to the extent that I was interested at the time. As my skills improved, my interest in the game slowly increased. I remember accompanying Roberto to the club in Buenos Aires and playing a few times before we moved back to the US.

 

“The first tournament I attended was the Thousand Islands in 2010, where we won the doubles, but I didn't play in the individual event. My participation in tournaments increased as my sons grew and became more independent. Then, I reached a point of no return; I enjoyed going to tournaments, meeting people, and improving my skills. I love the game, and I love competing!

 

“I would like women to enjoy tournaments and feel motivated to learn and improve their game. WWB is doing an amazing job providing resources and incentives to achieve that. I hope that sharing my experience inspires some women to feel more confident about learning and playing. 

 

"I'm just happy to be a part of it and to work alongside Christine, Karen, 

and Melanie.”

 - Irina Litzenberger 


***


And, so we continue to grow. It’s a great day for 

Women's World of Backgammon. 

 

--Christine Merser & Karen Davis, co-founders

Women's World of Backgammon


****

Round 2 of the WWB Mixed Doubles Tournament


The 3rd Women's World of Backgammon Mixed Doubles Tournament has concluded the second round of competition. There are 8 teams still in the running in the Championship division and 4 in the Intermediate division.

 

To see the latest updated brackets click here:

 To see the status of the brackets in the Championship division click here.

To see the status of the brackets in the Intermediate division click here. 

 

Christa Groll and Bernhard Mayr defeated Gigi Goyette and Scott Kelland in their Round 2 match. Bernhard and Christa are from Austria. Bernhard is President and Executive Director of the World Backgammon Federation (WBGF), the World Backgammon Internet Federation (WBIF), and the Backgammon Masters Awarding Body (BMAB) where he has qualified as a Grandmaster.

 

Phyllis Shapiro from Israel and Steven Waller defeated a very strong Ukranian team of Yuliia Tkach and Jakob Garal. Jakob is President of the Ukranian Backgammon Federation, and maker of many interesting backgammon boards and equipment.

 

Antoinette-Marie Williams and Joe Russell defeated Terese Flynn and Peter Wisniewski. Joe is Vice President of the World Backgammon Federation, a Backgammon World Champion (1989), Giant of Backgammon, and honoree of the American Backgammon Hall of Fame. Antoinette won the Ladies Event at the Backgammon World Championship in 2019 and the Texas State Championships in 2017. Watch this match below or on our YouTube channel, here



The Space Between Stimulus and Response




Last fall I played in the WBIF 2023 Women’s Championship, ending with a 3-2 win/loss record. I fell apart during my last two matches, with PRs in the high teens (maybe even the low 20s for the last match). This came after what was a strong showing for me—PRs just over 10 in the first three matches.

 

I was mortified. I never thought I’d win, nor do I care about that. I only care about playing at the top of my potential based on my mathematical ability and the amount of time I spend studying and practicing—which will never put me at the top of the game. But after the match, I struggled to understand why my play was all over the map; not understanding limits my ability to improve. I was even thinking about throwing in the towel and moving on to Words with Friends, which I think we can all agree might be easier.

 

Then, while reading the New York Times around the same time, I saw this synopsis of the Gauff/Mertens match at the U.S. Open.

 

In the opening set of her third-round match against Elise Mertens, Coco Gauff looked fallible, frustrated and like she would be finished early, nothing like she had earlier this week at the U.S. Open. Mertens, a 27-year-old Belgian, was playing loosely and aggressively, while Gauff, the 19-year-old American superstar, made error after error on just about every stroke. Gauff, usually possessing preternatural emotional maturity and composure, showed frustration throughout the early part of the match, uncharacteristically yelling out angrily after a double fault in the first set, which Mertens won 6-3.

 

My PR in any given match is similar to the play of Mertens… If my opponent makes mistakes, and luck goes my way, I play a PR I can be proud of. I know the move to make, and I make it. But the minute I make a mistake or luck gives me tough choices, I react instead of going through the process that my coach, ZZ, has taught me. “What could happen in the next roll? Go over every single option, taking the next roll into consideration. Then make your move.”

 

Philosopher Viktor Frankl’s quote about stimulus and response comes to mind here. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Let me rewrite it for backgammon. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our ability to find the right move.

 

Because the pace of a backgammon game has a rhythm to it, and I love that rhythm, I do not give space between when my dice stop on the board and when I move my checkers. If my opponent has a great roll, I react too quickly in my next roll. If I make a mistake, I do not slow down and regroup; I move faster—double up to catch up, so to speak. And, yes, I do double too early, and don’t take the cube when I should. It’s all part of it.

 

Watching Gauff take the space she needed after her bad shots on the court, or a great shot Mertens made, or losing the first set, I was inspired. Her play was a perfect example of the way I must change my game to earn PRs that will make me proud. To leave the past point behind. To leave the score behind.

 

Here’s the thing. Gauff didn't deviate from her intended game, even when she was making mistake after mistake. She just walked back to the baseline (okay, she was screaming sometimes, but let's leave that aside for now), and she played each point like it was the first one of the match.

 

I see now how the pace of a match, and the play of my opponent, can dictate my reactions. I see how this keeps me from taking control, putting mistakes and misfortunes out of my mind, and focusing on my plan to play my best. Know the board. Take whatever time I need to assess the options and the probabilities (as best I can without ZZ or a calculator, that is). Look at what could happen next. And then, after all that, make my move.

 

Just so you don’t take me too seriously, after Gauff’s match, which she won 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, she said she turned her play around when she saw Justin Bieber in the crowd watching; there was no way she was going to lose with her childhood idol watching her. Maybe we should be speaking about inspiration next.

 

Christine Merser, co-founder, Women's World of Backgammon


***



Winning Women Around the World


Winning Women Around the World

 

Women are increasingly placing in American Backgammon Tour and international events. We're sharing results from the following results in 

March and April so far: 

 

6th Merit Open Montenegro Grand Prix International 

Backgammon Championship 

March 19-24, 2024; Budva, Montenegro 

 

ABT - 29th Ohio State Backgammon Championships 

March 21-24, 2024; Middleburg Heights, Ohio


33rd Nordic Open Backgammon Tournament

March 27-31, 2024; Copenhagen, Denmark

 

Click here to catch up on all the action from the Atlanta Backgammon Classic. 


***


Upcoming Tournaments and Events


March 1 – July 31 – WWB Online Mixed Doubles. 

Contact Karen Davis for details, 917-488-5364.

 

March 21 – BMAB in conjunction with the Ohio State Championship, Dmitriy Obukhov, director. View details here.

 

March 21-24 – ABT: 29th Ohio State Championship will take place at the Crowne Plaza, Middleburg Heights, Ohio. View details here.

 

April 17 – BMAB in conjunction with the Cherry Blossom Championship, Ben Friesen, director. View details here

 

April 17-21 – ABT: Cherry Blossom Championship will take place at the Hyatt Regency Dulles, Hearndon, VA View details here.

 

May 22 – BMAB in conjunction with the Chicago Open, Dmitriy Obukhov.

View details here.

 

May 22-27 – 42nd Chicago Open, Hyatt Rosemont O’Hare, IL. The 2024 Women’s National Championship will start on May 23. View details here

Rory Pascar 617-699-9100

 

June 5 – BMAB in conjunction with the Los Angeles Open, Roberto Litzenberger, director.

 

June 6-9 – 47th Los Angeles Open, Hilton LAX, Los Angeles, CA 

Candace Mayeron 310-422-1646

View details here.

 

July 3 – BMAB in conjunction with the Michigan Summer Championship, Novi, MI, Dmitri Obukhov and Roberto Litzenberger, directors.

 

July 3-7 – 49th Michigan Summer Championship, Sheraton, Novi, MI 

View details here. 810-212-9731

 

July 7-14 -- WBGF Women’s World Team Championship, Stockholm, Sweden. Held in conjunction with the Swedish Open. View details here

 

October 16 -- BMAB Denver, Ben Friesen director held in conjunction with the 6th Wild West Shootout, October 16-20, Embassy Suites, Denver, CO 303-356-3679. View details here

***

Upcoming Tournaments and Events


April 17 – BMAB in conjunction with the Cherry Blossom Championship, Ben Friesen, director. View details here.

 

April 17-21 – ABT: Cherry Blossom Championship will take place at the Hyatt Regency Dulles, Hearndon, VA. View details here.

 

May 22 – BMAB in conjunction with the Chicago Open, Dmitriy Obukhov

View details here.

 

May 22-27 – 42nd Chicago Open, Hyatt Rosemont O’Hare, IL. The 2024 Women’s National Championship will start on May 23.  

Rory Pascar 617-699-9100. View details here

 

June 5 – BMAB in conjunction with the Los Angeles Open, Roberto Litzenberger, director. 

June 6-9 – 47th Los Angeles Open, Hilton LAX, 

Los Angeles, CA Candace Mayeron 310-422-1646. View details here.

 

July 3 – BMAB in conjunction with the Michigan Summer Championship, Novi, MI, Dmitriy Obukhov and Roberto Litzenberger, directors. July 3-7 – 49th Michigan Summer Championship, Sheraton, Novi, MI 810-212-9731.

View details here

 

July 7-14 -- WBGF Women’s World Team Championship, Stockholm, Sweden. Held in conjunction with the Swedish Open. View details here.

 

July 27-August 4 – Backgammon World Championship, Fairmont Hotel, Monte Carlo, Monaco. View details here

 

October 16 -- BMAB Denver, Ben Friesen director held in conjunction with the 6th Wild West Shootout, October 16-20, Embassy Suites, Denver, CO 303-356-3679. View details here


Upcoming WWB Events


April 23, 6 pm-7 pm EDT – Art Benjamin, Utilizing Heroes to Improve Your Game, WWB Zoom session. Register to join session here

 

April 30, 7 pm EDT – Highlights of the Atlanta Backgammon Masters Awarding Body Event, Roberto Litzenberger, WWB Zoom session. 

Register to join session here

 

May 14, 7 pm EDT - Watch Round 3 of the WWB Mixed Doubles tournament. Register to watch matches here


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Winning Women - April/May

Women are increasingly placing in American Backgammon Tour and international events. In March/April they include: WBF - 2nd LOUTRAKI GRAND PRIX INTERNATIONAL BACKGAMMON CHAMPIONSHIP April 17-21, 2024;

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