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BWW July Newsletter



You may have already noticed something different in this newsletter… we have a new name!

Introducing Backgammon. Winning. Women.

Why you ask? Over the past two years we have learned a lot. Our survey told us that women want to compete; they sometimes feel intimidated. We want to win, and we want to compete, and after two years, we are showing up in larger numbers across the country and online to find our place at the table. To that positive message, we want to reinforce the goal…

Backgammon. Winning. Women.

And, so we have a new name. Our mission stays the same.

Backgammon. Winning. Women. promotes women’s participation, place, and preeminence in competitive backgammon.

We appreciate your continued support.

-Karen Davis & Christine Merser






Winning Women

Women are increasingly placing in American Backgammon Tour events.

In May-July 2023 they include:

Chicago Open - May 2023 Limited Jackpot, Irina Litzenberger, 1st; Taki Board Tournament, Carol Joy Cole, 1st

Los Angeles Open – June 2023 ABT Open, Leslie Lockett, 4th/5th; ABT Advanced, Marjie Harbrecht, 1st; Paul Dingwell Amateur Jackpot, Kara Schultz, 3rd/4th; ProAm Doubles, Leslie Lockett and Kit Woolsey, 1st; Gigi Goyette and Vera Holley, 2nd

Michigan Summer Championship – July 2023 ABT Open, Karen Davis, 4th/5th; ABT Intermediate, Maggie Sweeney, 2nd; ABT Novice, Fran Miller, 1st; BMAB, Karen Davis 3/5; Doubles, Gary and Joan Koscielny, 2nd; Judy Field Memorial Bliltz, April Mesich, 3rd/4th; Women in Backgammon Fireworks Cup, Marcy Kossar, 1st; Rhonda Monro, 2nd; Marianne Bowen, 1st Consolation, Maggie Sweeney, 2nd Consolation

Upcoming Events The 2023 Women’s Online World Championship kicked off July 12, 2023, with 94 women playing worldwide, including 32 women from the U.S. Backgammon. Winning. Women. (BWW) is providing 500 Euros in added prize money. BWW will sponsor Zoom sessions of select matches including commentary by leading experts. To receive notices of Zoom sessions and matches, click here. The Backgammon World Championships in Monaco will be held July 24-30, 2023. View details here. The Wisconsin Championships will take place at the Best Western, Madison, Wisconsin, August 10-13. View details here. Kent Goulding and Karen Davis, American Backgammon Hall of Fame, will present Critical Cube Choices, an analysis of their doubling cube errors in the Mixed Doubles tournament, on August 8 at 7 PM EST on Zoom. To register, click here. The Sunny Florida Backgammon Championships will be held at the Hilton Marina Hotel in Fort Lauderdale Florida, August 16-20. View more details here. The World Backgammon Internet Federation World Women’s Team Championship will start September 1 with co-organizers Karen Davis (US) and Julia Hayward (UK). The top 16 women in the Americas region of the WBIF Women’s World Championship will compete for the title of U.S. Women’s Champion. The event will take place in the Fall. More details to follow in the coming weeks.

Michigan Summer Championships

The fireworks inside and outside the Michigan Summer Championships held in the suburbs of Detroit from June 29 to July 3 were a spectacle to behold. The field of over 150 entrants in the Main Open, Intermediate, and Limited divisions counted a number of women in the winners’ circle!

The Women in Backgammon Fireworks Cup was capped at 16 entrants. Marcy Kossar (MD) won the final with Rhonda Monro (MI) taking second place. Marcy was delighted to win the 1st place prize including $500 in added money and a Backgammon. Winning. Women. board, donated by Backgammon. Winning. Women. Marianne Bowen (VA) won the Consolation, defeating newcomer Maggie Sweeney (MI) in the final.

Karen Davis (FL), Backgammon. Winning. Women. co-founder, finished tied for 4th/5th in the American Backgammon Tour Open division, defeating prominent grandmasters and a world champion along the way. Newcomer, Maggie Sweeney took 2nd in the ABT Intermediate division, and Fran Miller (OH) won the ABT Limited division.

Irina Litzenberger (VA) continued to display her prowess in the Backgammon Masters Awarding Body (event) ranking 8th out of 26 on the basis of PR with a 5.72 PR. Karen Davis tied for 3rd on the basis of Win-Loss rating, with a 4-1 win-loss record.

The popular Michigan Doubles event enlisted 32 teams. Mixed Doubles teams have become more frequent in the list of winning teams. Gary and Joan Koscielny (FL) placed 2nd. Marcy Kossar teamed up with Canadian Garry Kallos to tie for 3rd/4th.

Backgammon. Winning. Women. hosted a table at the annual USBGF Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner on July 2. Celebrants included: Marianne Bowen, Karen Davis, Julius High, Alec Izzo, Roberto and Irina Litzenberger, Leslie Lockett, and Philippe Salnave.

Hall of Fame honorees inducted into the American Backgammon Hall of Fame included Matvey (Falafel) Natanzon and Mochy Mochizuki. Zdeněk Žižka made a very moving tribute to the late Falafel in a video presentation prepared by Blue Shoe. We invite you to watch the tribute below. Wilcox Snellings similarly honored Mochy, with Mochy making an extremely gracious response.


Mixed Doubles Tournament Wrap-Up


World champions Joe Russell (winner of Backgammon World Championship in 1989) and Antoinette-Marie Williams (winner of the Ladies event at the 2019 Backgammon World Championship) were victorious in the 2023 Women in Backgammon Online Mixed Doubles. The 24 entering Championship teams included many of the world’s finest players including Grandmasters, Giants of Backgammon, and American Backgammon Hall of Famers as well as women on the U.S. Women’s Team that won the Genud Cup in 2022 and 2020 against the UK women’s team.



Second place went to Kent Goulding and Karen Davis, both members of the American Backgammon Hall of Fame. Antoinette and Karen were on the 2022 and 2020 winning U.S. Women’s Backgammon Team in the Genud Cup against the U.K. women’s team. Third place was claimed by Lynda Clay (winner of the 2022 Paul Dingwell Amateur Jackpot at the LA Open) and Jacob Atie from Panama (2nd in the 2022 Sunny Florida Speedgammon and tied for 2nd in the BMAB event).

The Intermediate division winning team was Christine Merser and Mary Morse, with second place going to Phyllis Shapiro and Steven Waller in a field of six Intermediate teams. Christine is the co-founder of Backgammon. Winning. Women.; her game has made a giant leap forward with coaching from Grandmaster Zdeněk Žižka. Mary was the 2022 U.S. Online Women’s Champion and 2023 winner of the Texas Championship division Last Chance event.

The tournament was sponsored by Backgammon.Winning. Women. which provided beautiful backgammon boards to winners of the Championship and Open divisions. The authors of The Backgammon Gourmet donated copies of the book to Intermediate division winners. The tournament was directed by Nano Cabrera.


Medieval and early modern fun-spoilers were unanimous in their condemnation of dicing and (later) cards, but less commonly, it seems to me, did they include backgammon in their sights.



[As is told in the ancient histories, in greater India there was a king who greatly loved wise men and kept them always with him and very often made them discuss facts which arose from things. […] One of them said that intelligence was stronger than chance […] The other said that chance was stronger than intelligence […] The third said that the greatest man was he who could live by taking from both one and the other, and this was wisdom. […] And when they had said their piece most vehemently, the king ordered each to bring before him an example proving what they said, and set them a time-limit, as they asked him. And they went away and looked in their books, each according to his argument. And when the time was ended, they came before the king with their example. And he who spoke for intelligence, brought chess with its games, showing that he who had the most intelligence and was alert could defeat the other. And he who spoke for fate, brought dice, showing that intelligence was powerless against fate, as was shown by luck, by which man came to advantage or harm. The third, who said that it was best to take from one and the other, brought the backgammon board with its counters counted and placed in their places in order, so that they could be moved in play, as is shown in this book which speaks separately of this, in which it is made clear that he who knows how to play it well, even if the luck of the dice is against him, will by his wisdom be able to play with backgammon so that he will avoid the harm that can come to him from the fate of the dice.] Taken from the British Library, European Studies Blog. Read the entire article here.


Ah that challenging doubling cube. It’s always the tipping point of winning and losing. We have scheduled a presentation by Karen Davis and Kent Goulding, who have gone through some of the interesting and challenging doubles from their matches during our Mixed Doubles event, and will review the decisions - good and not so good - that were played out in real time during the tournament. You will find the details here. You will not want to miss this event.

In the meantime … five tips to keep at top of mind as you are playing… 1. One of the grandmasters, Kit Woolsey, emphasizes that every roll is a new cube decision. Always take time to assess whether the position is a double using a method like Position, Race, and Threat (PRAT). Do you have a stronger board? Are you ahead in the race? Do you have threats that your opponent is likely to drop next time (a market loser)?

2. Woolsey’s Law asks you to think about it from the perspective of your opponent. If you were doubled in this position, would you take? If not sure, double.

3. Another grandmaster, we can’t remember who, said he always counts to six before responding to a double. Otherwise he sometimes reacts, rather than responds. Another grandmaster underscores the importance of using all of the 12-second delay time before coming to a take/drop decision.

4. Double immediately at a score where you and your opponent both have two more points to go to win the match (called 2-away to 2-away).

5. Always think about the future of how this game is likely to evolve. Can your next move annihilate your opponent? Remember gammons count double.



First, a shout out to Phyllis Shapiro and Marty Storer, for sponsoring

Backgammon. Winning. Women. over the past year. Thank you.

And, the revised version of The Backgammon Gourmet, compiled and edited by Phyllis Shapiro and Marty Storer, is available on Amazon.

Some of the greats including Art Benjamin, Michihito Kageyama, Robert Litzenberger and David Presser, to name a few, have chosen a backgammon situation to write about, and while giving the answer as to the correct move, we also hear about how they did it right (or wrong) in a past match. It’s a great lesson tool that you can easily read one a day to get your multivitamin lesson. And, after digesting that, have a look at their favorite recipes to give you a little insight into their tastes buds away from the tables. It’s fun. It’s interesting and challenging, and it’s a great gift for a backgammon loving friend or family member.



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