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BWW May Newsletter

Peer Coaching Program


Last fall, after our article on the chess team from Harlem beating every Ivy League wannabe through their peer-to-peer coaching, we launched a program offering to pair peer-to-peer coaches and students. The best-laid plans! So many people wanted coaches, so few coaches available. And then there were problems with program coordination. Long story short, we do not think we can expand the program to accommodate the growing need for connecting and learning through conversation with coaches and playing. But we could see that it really does work; working together can improve everyone’s game.


Karen launched a Peer Coaching Clinic on Friday evenings, consisting of a coaching Zoom call, which has grown over the past few months and now stands as our peer-to-peer coaching template. It’s the same time each week, and it’s led by Karen Davis. She has a backup in Melanie Hughes, so if she can’t make it, someone else will be there to lead the group. Everyone arrives, and volunteers agree to play a 4-person doubles match on in Consultation Mode. So four people in the room play a 3-point match, everyone watches, and the clock is turned off, and every roll is discussed and pondered and pounded. After the move is made, another round of discussion ensues around Heroes Consultation Mode listing of the best choices. If the move is right, it says "Awesome!" That’s a morale booster. If it’s wrong, the play is shaded green, yellow, or red depending on the magnitude of the error, and the coach helps explain why another choice was best. People communicate verbally in the Zoom session. Friendships have formed. People are playing with each other online after meeting there. And most of all, everyone is learning, including the coach!

We believe this template will work moving forward. We also believe that not having more than 20 people in each group is the right number. Some can only make a few sessions, but there are always enough women to make it engaging, entertaining, and educational.


A study was done on book groups, and once they get over twenty people in size, the group doesn’t work out as well. So, our new peer-to-peer coaching will be made up of Zoom groups, 20 people, and one leader with a backup, and a doubles match will be played and reviewed. We talked to some people in the group in place, and they said the following:

  • My game is better.

  • I have made some friends who I now play with online and we discuss the play while we are playing. It’s helping.

  • I am more confident about voicing my opinion. Everyone participates, and because it’s doubles, there is conversation between players.

  • I love the comment section where we exchange all kinds of information.

  • It’s the right amount of people. Everyone gets a chance.

  • Friday night. Glass of wine. Fun and interesting use of my time. Best date ever.

If you would like to lead a group, join a group, or have additional ideas about expanding the program, get in touch. We thank you for your input and patience as we refine this most important initiative.


PS from Karen… 

  • I have gained more than I’ve given. The best way to learn is to teach someone.

  • I learn something every time we play. It improves my need to consider all choices; the biggest sources of mistakes is never seeing the right choice in our hurry to move.

  • Makes me analyze my mistakes.

  • What a great feeling to watch everyone get stronger in their play.

  • I have a wonderful time with amazing women who are all striving to be stronger players.


Outreach for Our Tournaments

We are finishing up the writing of our Tournament Primer and welcome your input on things you would like to see included, questions you would like answered, and tournament anecdotes that might enlighten those wanting to join tournament play. Email Christine Merser if you have things to add. 


Thank you for helping. We have included everything we’ve received so far. This is your last chance to give us input on this most important project.


Introducing Flight of the Starling

It's true! Our co-founder Christine Merser, along with her co-author Carol Rea, wrote a novel, Flight of the Starling, and YES, backgammon is an important character in the book.

So, we wanted to share it with the WWB Community. 


A few of you have already read it, including Christine's co-founder Karen Davis, and we're loving hearing your thoughts. 

“I've read it. It is TERRIFIC. Well-written, developed and relatable characters and a plot-line that zings along.”

- Candace Mayeron, Backgammon Tournament Director

About the Book

Justine's a wealthy, divorced photographer, with friends in high places. Among this select circle is Robert Bradbury, a billionaire who has spent the last two decades searching for his daughter, Caroline, tragically trafficked years ago. When investigators uncover an unexpected lead, Robert approaches Justine with a bold and risky proposition. Justine enters the world of black ops to join the search and a complex connection emerges between Justine, the trafficked daughter, and the woman who caused unimaginable pain. Black Ops. Ex-CIA. Evil and greatness. It's a page-turner.  

Purchase book here.


News from the WWB Board


Melanie Hughes, a board member, is working on a new initiative for Women's World of Backgammon, where we will begin to build out a section on our website with information and schedules for online tournaments.

Melanie Hughes, a board member, is working on a new initiative for Women's World of Backgammon, where we will begin to build out a section on our website with information and schedules for online tournaments.

Irina Litzenberger and Christine Merser are leading the committee addressing the need for scholarship support and financial assistance for women wanting to play but lacking the resources to participate. We want to do more around scholarships and sponsorships to ensure women have the support (sometimes financial, but also camaraderie) to compete.

We are gathering information and hope to have something to launch in the fall. If you would like to offer support and ideas, do email us.


Round 3 of the WWB Mixed Doubles Tournament

Viewers were treated to a thrilling Round 3 of the Women’s World of Backgammon on May 14! If you weren’t able to make it live, don’t miss reviewing this YouTube video of the match between Kara Schultz, winner of the 2023 Online World Women’s Championship, and her backgammon partner David Vakil, a Backgammon Masters Awarding Body Master Class 2. They pulled off an exciting win over Antoinette-Marie Williams, winner of the 2019 Ladies Event at the Backgammon World Championship, and Joe Russell, winner of the 1989 Backgammon World Championship.

Kara and David led most of the way defending against Antoinette and Joe’s attempt to make a comeback from behind, with both teams playing under a 3.5 PR – a Grandmaster-level performance. What was most interesting for those observing was the dialogue around strategy. There was very little talk about what the bot would suggest, and much more strategic conversation about where they wanted to be and the score’s relevance. It’s a wealth of information for those of us learning.


In the Intermediate Division, Yvonne Dalpay and Richard Battin from South Florida won their semi-final match against Kathy van Alstyne and Ed Marmol from the state of Washington. Their opponent in the Intermediate final will be decided on May 23 at 4 pm Eastern US time in a match between a Bulgarian team and a Romanian team. By the way, Mariela Kamerova on the Bulgarian team recently won the Intermediate Division of the 5th Northern Cyprus Concorde Backgammon Open, held from May 1-5, 2024, in Nicosia, North Cyprus – keep an eye on her, she’s a rising star!


We will then have four remaining Championship teams, and two Intermediate teams will face off in Round 4 on or around Tuesday, June 11.

If you have friends or family that love backgammon as much as you, or maybe they are just learning to play, you can use the link below to forward this newsletter to them and ask them to subscribe! 

Illustration of A Woman And Man Playing Backgammon

ARTIST Pierre Mourgue

Publication: Vogue


Date: March 1st, 1930

Description: Illustration of a woman, wearing a dress by Stein and Blaine, and a man playing backgammon


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 April and May so far: 



April 17-21, 2024; Loutraki, Greece



April 17-21, 2024; Herndon, Virginia

Cherry Blossom Festival


Marcy Kossar (MD) made history by placing second in the American Backgammon Tour (ABT) Cherry Blossom Championship held April 17-21, 2024, at the Hyatt Regency Dulles, Herndon, VA. She was edged out by the #1 U.S. Grandmaster, Victor Ashkenazi (NJ), in a very exciting final match. In another first, Irina Litzenberger (VA) served as Co-Commentator of the streamed match which can be found on YouTube.


Lynda Clay (CO) tied for first along with Albert Steg (MA) in another prestigious event, the Players Cup Backgammon Masters Awarding Body (BMAB-VA) with a perfect 5-0 Win-Loss record. She will receive a crystal bowl from Women's World of Backgammon (WWB). Thirty-five players competed in the event including four women. Lynda attributes her success in part to adoption of a positive winning mindset! Proof-positive is that she also did well in three side events – finishing second in the DC Metro Open Championship, 1st in the Night Owl Jackpot Division 1, and tied for first in the WWB Cup Consolation.

Lynn Ehrlich (FL), organizer and director of the ABT New York Metropolitan Open Championship, won the Cherry Blossom WWB Cup. She was awarded a WWB prize backgammon board along with first-place prize money. Marianne Bowen (VA) finished second. Molly Anderson (WA) split the Consolation 1st place with Lynda Clay.


Candace Mayeron (CA), producer of two California American Backgammon Tour tournaments, finished first in the Nation's Capital Doubles 32-team event with backgammon partner Kit Woolsey (CA). She also tied for third in the ABT Advanced Division event!

Palm Beach Women's Backgmamon Invitational

Two dozen women turned out for the 2024 Palm Beach Women's Weekend, including a Palm Beach Women's Backgammon Invitational Tournament on Saturday April 27, and a brunch on Sunday, April 28, in honor of Karen Davis, a member of the American Backgammon Hall of Fame and a Giant of Backgammon.

The weekend was filled with fun events including several exhibition matches and streamed tournament matches with expert commentary from guests who included Grandmaster and Hall of Famer Steve Sax, and Roberto Litzenberger, director of the Backgammon Masters Awarding Body (BMAB) Players Cup. Irina Litzenberger, one of five women in the world who have achieved the rank of BMAB Master, played exhibition matches with Roberto and Karen. Streamed matches are being posted on the YouTube/@SunnyFloridaBackgammonClub channel.

The Invitational Tournament, held for the third year in a row, is the largest free-standing all-women's event in the U.S. The Championship division was won by Lee Genud, Backgammon World Champion in 1981, who played Karen Davis in the final. Lynn Ehrlich, director of the New York Metropolitan Open, the largest tournament on the American Backgammon Tour with almost 200 players in January 2024, won the Consolation, defeating Irina Litzenberger in the Consolation final.


The Intermediate division was won by Jeannie Roberts (France), with Phatavahn Olsen (Palm Beach) as Finalist. Lisa Speer (Palm Beach) was the Consolation winner.


The Novice division was won by Jane Ylvisaker (Palm Beach) with Alexandra Aragosta from California finishing second. Her mother, Regina Dinkes, won the Consolation.


The Weekend's festivities were produced by Lisa Speer and hosted by Jason Briggs who donated Crisloid backgammon boards to the Championship and Intermediate Division tournament winners. Nano Cabrera, tournament director of the Sunny Florida Backgammon Club, directed the tournament.

Highlights of the Atlanta BMAB

Learning from your mistakes is key to improvement. That's why top players assiduously record their matches, run them through the eXtreme Gammon (XG) neural net software that flags errors and blunders, and compare what they did over the board with what XG lists as the best decision. It doesn't matter whether you are a championship, advanced, intermediate, or beginner player, you can learn by systematically reviewing your mistakes – painful at times, yes, 

but necessary!


Dedication to getting better is what drives an increasing number of players, including women, to compete in a dozen or so Backgammon Masters Awarding Body (BMAB) events held every year in the U.S. Roberto Litzenberger has created a new tour, the Players Cup, linking all dozen BMAB-USA events, and giving recognition and prizes to players with the best performance.


To help everyone understand the power of this strategy, Women's World of Backgammon asked Roberto to select the ten most difficult decisions from four BMAB-USA events – those held in Atlanta, the Cherry Blossom, Michigan, and Denver – and organize a Zoom session on each with comments on the decisions by women players and leading experts.


The first Zoom session highlighting the Atlanta BMAB was held on Tuesday, April 30. It was an hour well spent going through some of the difficult decisions made by some of the finest women's players in the world. Karen Davis, Irina Litzenberger, and Melanie Hughes laid bare their thinking on some moves that were … well, not to eXtreme Gammon's liking. They described the main considerations that influenced their choices – right or wrong! Grandmasters Marty Storer and Kit Woolsey provided commentary as well as Roberto. It triggered lots of discussion and incredible learning opportunities about approach during a match and risk/reward quotients. You can catch the session here.


Roberto Litzenberger is the director of the new Players Cup, which creates a tour of a dozen BMAB-USA events in 2024. Women's World of Backgammon awards crystal bowls to the women with the most wins at the Atlanta, Cherry Blossom, Michigan, and Denver BMAB events, and a crystal vase to the woman with the most wins across the dozen events in the Players Cup tour.


Irina Litzenberger won the crystal bowl for her 4-1 win-loss performance in Atlanta. Karen Davis had the best Performance Record for a woman in Atlanta with a 5.75 average.

Upcoming Events

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, Dmitri Obukhov and Roberto Litzenberger, directors. 

July 3-7 – 49th - Michigan Summer Championship, Sheraton, Novi, MI 810-212-9731View 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.


August 8-11 – Wisconsin Championships, Best Western, Madison, WI Jack Edelson, Director, 516-650-4329. View details here.


August 10-16 – World Backgammon Federation World Doubles/Backgammon Festival, Stadt-Palais, Aachen, Germany Marcus Reinhard and Jürgen Schettler, Producers. View details here.


August 28 - Sept 2 – Viking Classic and BMAB, Hilton, Bloomington MN, April and Michael Mesich, Directors, 612-703-3211. View details here.


Sept 26-29 – St. Louis Gateway Open and BMAB, Holiday Inn Airport, MO, 314-749-9687, David Todd and Jim Feher directors. 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 Dan Minardi Director, 303-356-3679. View details here.


November 5-10, Worldwide Backgammon Federation, 11th Merit International Open, Kyrenia, North Cyprus, Arda Fındıkoğlu


President WBF – Turkey; Marco Fornasir – General Secretary, WBF.

View details here.

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