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BWW February Newsletter

Friends and fellow backgammon players,


Did we mention that we are publishing a book? THE BACKGAMMON PRIMER. 


The book will be available on Amazon by mid-April. It encompasses the genesis of both the results of our survey, as well as interviews with women around the roadblocks they face when entering tournament play. It was inspired by Melanie Hughes' outreach two years ago when she suggested that we create a resource about tournament play, covering topics such as how to enter, what to enter, etiquette, dos and don'ts, and more.


Keep an eye out for "The Backgammon Primer." Our hope is that after reading it, women will feel more confident as they enter the tournament room and embark on their journey to success. We welcome your thoughts on what should be included, and we will provide more information in the coming weeks.


Now, let's share some insights from Christine's interview with Richard Munitz. Richard is not only a renowned player but has also dedicated a significant portion of the past few years to working on the definitive rules of backgammon. These rules are now used in all US Backgammon Federation tournaments and helped shape those used in tournaments worldwide. The primer will contain the new 2024 USBGF Tournament Rules document. 


During the interview, the topic of rules and their consistent enforcement (or lack thereof) came up for discussion. The power of tournament directors to enforce rules as they see fit, often with little guidance, has been a subject of conversation for years. The phrase "at the discretion of the Tournament Director" can sometimes be grating.


Richard confronted this issue directly. He explained, "There has to be discretion by the tournament director because much of the challenge in executing the rules arises from a 'he said, she said' situation. However, from my perspective, sometimes the confusion lies in the fact that many players, and even some tournament directors, are not knowledgeable about the rules, or do not know them as well as they should."


He highlighted the importance of rules and how they are sometimes undervalued. Richard believes that the integrity and future of the game depend on the clarity of the rules and the knowledge of every player and director.


He emphasizes the importance of truly knowing the rules, inside and out, just like a teen tennis player aspiring to greatness knows the rules of tennis or a fighter jet pilot knows how her plane operates. Richard posed a question to Christine, asking, "When was the last time you read the rules?" 

Christine's response? "Oh wait, never."


The discussion took an even more interesting turn when Richard and Christine discussed women's tendency to avoid controversy and often prefer to "let it go." Studies confirm that women will walk away from confrontation, even if they think they are right. Richard comes from the point of view that both men and women must rise above their desire to avoid challenging others in the room. This applies not just to women but also to men who may find themselves playing against opponents of higher stature. He believes that this is vital for maintaining the integrity of the game and its value as a sport. "If we, as players, do not challenge mistakes or request adherence to the rules by everyone, the integrity of the game and the value of the sport are diminished. Each player has an obligation to stand up for the rules in the most composed and clear manner possible. It's the only way the game can maintain its stature."


To gather more insights, we consulted a negotiator who provided us with some talking points on this topic, which will be further explored in the book:


1) Do not challenge intent. Instead, express your desire for clarification on the issue because you understand the rules to state a specific interpretation. 

2) Ensure that you do not touch the board or the other person, and refrain from raising your voice. Request clarification and then ask the director to

 come to the table. 

3) If you are not satisfied that the tournament director ruling is consistent with the Rules, players have the right to appeal tournament director decisions on rules to a Rules Committee. On all other tournament matters and where the Rules give directors discretion, the director has the final say. Their decision is binding. End the discussion there and decide later if you wish to pursue the matter further. 

4) Take note of any witnesses present who may need to be consulted 

by the director. 

5) Be a good sport. If you realize you were mistaken, or the TD or Rules Committee rules against you, apologize firmly once and then move on. 

6) Tournaments increasingly record and stream select matches. Typically, the tournament website will note that the tournament reserves the right to stream and/or record any match. By registering, you consent to appear in promotional materials or video. If the tournament director (or representative) asks you to play in a given place to be streamed, do so graciously. 


Here's an interesting tidbit about the rules to pique your curiosity: both players should keep a written score separately – even if a scoreboard visible to all is used. If only one player keeps a written score and there is a discrepancy at the end, the player who kept score is given greater weight. 


That's the end of that story.


Sit up straight and read the rules. Remember that the game of backgammon has been around for centuries and deserves the best effort we can offer. Knowing the rules and demanding their observance is the least we can do to preserve the game's integrity.


--Karen and Christine, co-founders, Women's World of Backgammon 

Winning Women Around the World


Women are increasingly placing in American Backgammon Tour and international events. In February they included:


10th Texas Backgammon Championships – February 2024

ABT Intermediate Division: 1-Lena Sahlen (Sweden) 

Texas Classic Advanced Jackpot: 2nd/3rd Irina Litzenberger

Novice Championship: 3rd/4th Sophia Hutson (Australia)

San Antonio Cinco Doubles: 1-Dennis & Peggy Culpepper; 3rd/4th Irina and Roberto Litzenberger

Seniors: 3rd/4th Carol Joy Cole

Upcoming Tournaments & Events

February 23-25 - ABT: Massachusetts State Championship will take place at the Colonnade Hotel, Boston. View details here.  


February 29 - BMAB in conjunction with the Atlanta Classic, Roberto Litzenberger, director. View details here.


February 29-March 3 - ABT: 14th Atlanta Classic will take place at the Sonesta Hotel, Atlanta. View details here


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.


April 29 – WWB Palm Beach Open, Palm Beach, FL. Contact Karen Davis for details. (917-488-5364)


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)

2024 Women's National Championship


The 2024 Women’s National Championship will be held in connection with the Chicago Open May 22-26. The entry fee is $100, 90% return, with an optional sidepool of $50. It is structured as a double elimination tournament with 9-point matches in the Main bracket and 7-point matches in the Second Chance. This is a clock required event (2 minutes/12 seconds). The Winner will receive a stunning Belair Watch valued at $1,500 courtesy of the Alan and Joan Grunwald Fund while the Finalist will receive a lavender 

Women's World of Backgammon ArtGammon Board. 

We recently launched the WWB Peer coaching program and held our first event earlier this week.

After first announcing the launch of the WWB Peer Coaching program, we received a huge response from women wanting to be part of this program, and several players volunteered as coaches.


We are hoping to bring more coaches into the program to pair with students. This program is a great way to meet fellow players, practice your game no matter your level, and hone your skills playing online.


If you weren't able to make the session, you can view the YouTube video of the session below.

Click here to read all about how the program works.


If you'd like to volunteer as a coach or if you want to be paired with a coach to improve your game, click below and fill in the requested information. 


Local Club Highlight

Over the last six months, WWB has done several collaborations with the 

NYC Backgammon Club and their fabulous founder, Remy Davenport. Remy was recently interviewed by Lauren Scala on New York Live, talking all about the events, tournaments, and learning opportunities the club offers in addition to the way it's bringing people with a common interest together to meet each other, play backgammon, and be part of a community. 


You can also read the piece we wrote after talking to Remy here


Introducing the WWB Water Bottle

I recently read an article about the importance of hydrating your brain when you’re using it for tasks like chess, backgammon, writing, and thinking.


I often bring a big, wonderful round water bottle to tournaments, and I leave it in my room because there isn’t room on the table next to the board during the match, or I have no place to carry it.


This water bottle is amazing. It fits in most backgammon boards and holds 12 ounces of water. I fill it up a little bit and freeze it, then put water in it before I have to play, and it’s great. It slowly melts and keeps the water cold, which matters to me.


Our small label on it will remind you that a few thousand women are paying attention to what we can do to improve our competitive play.


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

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