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BWW October Newsletter

What a month it's been for women. We are playing in greater numbers, and the attendance at our events online is growing, growing, growing. Thank you. And, thank you for your input and your outreach to others to let them know we are here.

The results of our poll about membership were revealing and also, encouraging. We found that community is based around shared experiences, and that you want more of those, both online and in person. And, that while we will continue online teaching and real time match play with commentary, there is a need for personal, one on one outreach as well. More assistance in helping our 'members' gain access to tournaments and resources.

We had a first this month. We were able to call on some of our supporters to give financial assistance to someone who wanted to enter a major tournament in their area, but didn't have the resources. We know that moving forward, scholarships for people accessing resources to improve their game and might not be readily available is a priority.

We are going to postpone putting together a membership program until after the first of the year. We think our efforts to expand information and anecdotes and assistance around the backgammon community and options for expanded education can be stronger. We will put that together and then regroup on membership.

More on all this later. Keep the emails and calls coming. And, our ZZ teaching event around the doubling cube on November 8th, is going to be exceptional. It is based on a presentation he made in Dubai. We saved you the airfare.

Have a stellar October. If you are where the leaves are changing, take the board outside.

-Karen Davis & Christine Merser, co-founders, Backgammon. Winning. Women.

Winning Women

Women are increasingly placing in American Backgammon Tour and international events. In September-October they include:

Las Vegas Open – September 2023

ABT Intermediate, Candace Mayeron, 1st Consolation; Lisa Lowe, Novice, 2nd and Begininners Jackpot 1st; Doubles, Wendy Kaplan and Alphonse Mekalainas, 1st; Quickie – DMP, Akiko Yazawa, 1st; and Sunday Open Jackpot, 2nd

2nd Annual Jamaica International Championship – October 2023

Open, Akiko Yazawa, 1st Consolation and Bazooki, 2nd; Doubles, Antoinette-Marie Williams and Michy Kageyama, 2nd.

Denver Wild West Shootout – October 2023

ABT Division 3 – Vera Holley, Third; Marjie Harbrecht, 1st Consolation; Maggie Sweeney, 2nd Consolation

BMAB – Karen Davis, tied 2nd-5th

Division 3 Jackpot – Jennifer Owens, 1st

Doubles Shootout – Laura Granger and Cary Hoarty, 1st

Annie Oakley Shootout – Vera Holley, 1st; Mary Wilson 2nd; 1st Consolation Laura Granger

Sitting Bull Jackpot – Laura Granger, tied 2nd/3rd

Cornhole Social – Myra Gazvoda and Dan Minardi, 1st

WBIF Women’s World Team Championship – Update

Teams with 3-0 Wins in first three rounds: Norway, Romania, Turkey; USA 1-2 Win-Loss

Upcoming Tournaments The St. Louis Gateway Open will take place at the Holiday Inn, St. Louis, MO, October 19-22. View details here.

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.

The Connecticut Championship will take place at the Hilton Garden Inn, Windsor, CT, November 3-5. View details here.

The 10th Merit International Open will take place in Kyrenia, North Cyprus, November 7-12. View details here.

The Capital Classic will take place at the Dulles Marriott, Herndon, VA, November 16-19. View details here.

The California State Championships will take place at the LAX Hilton, Los Angeles, CA December 7-10. View details here.

Upcoming BWW Events

On Wednesday, November 8 at Noon Eastern US time Backgammon. Winning. Women. will Feature Zdeněk Žižka (ZZ) Presenting on Cube Action

How many times are you finding yourself felled by the Doubling Cube? Don't get us started on the enormity of the cube's influence on our games! And to think it wasn't even invented until the early 1900's when people playing in America wanted to find a way to wager at higher stakes! Don't fret; we are committed to providing strong instruction around the cube!

ZZ, as he is affectionately known, is the founder of, a new approach to helping backgammon players of all levels improve their game. He believes the key to coaching is an individualized approach, helping his mentees learn how to think about a position and how it is likely to evolve in the future, the questions to ask oneself, and how to determine when the reward outweighs the risk of a choice. He has developed four courses of 25 videotapes each for players at the Intermediate, Advanced, and World Class Levels as well as a new course on Cube Action. Each video is roughly 30 minutes in length. They help players progress through the basics of the game at three levels (Intermediate, Advanced, and World Class), as well as improve their Cube decisions.

For the dedicated students and fans of the game, he offers private zoom coaching (both co-founders Karen and Christine work with him) where he answers any question or explains any topic depending on a student’s wish. He does a professional analysis of recent positions and interesting matches which students have encountered, and tailors a learning experience based on their unique strengths and weaknesses.

As a coach, he uses instructional time to hone in on blunders made by mentees in key matches, understand the flaw in their thinking, and ask the questions that will lead to the correct choice in the future.

Zdeněk Žižka (ZZ) is the founder of He is a BMAB Grandmaster class 0 where he is ranked #3 out of 87 Grandmasters, 2022 Giant of Backgammon #4, finalist in the 2022 Backgammon World Championship, and winner of the Super Speedgammon event at the 2022 Merit Open in North Cyprus. In 2023 he was a finalist in the Ultimate Backgammon Contender event in Istanbul; 3rd in Mochy Millions at the Backgammon World Championship; 1st Last Chance at the Merit Open in Montenegro; and 2nd in the Super Jackpot in Gibraltar.

Be sure to check out as well the BWW presentation on August 8 by Kent Goulding and Karen Davis on Critical Cube Choices.

Women Earn Their Spurs at Denver Wild West

Women were out in force at the Wild West Shootout American Backgammon Tour (ABT) tournament held in Denver October 4-9, 2023! Twenty-two women played in the ABT divisional events, out of 97 total entrants – 23% of the total. By contrast, women accounted for 14% of ABT entrants in all ABT events two years ago.

Women are also moving up to the top-level divisions. Five out of 37 entrants in the top Level I Open division were women, 14%. That’s almost a three-fold increase from 5% two years ago.

The Wild West Shootout included a Backgammon Masters Awarding Body (BMAB) event – with four women playing out of a total of 27 entrants. Two years ago it was rare to find more than one or two women competing in BMAB events! The BMAB event is a step toward earning qualification as a Grandmaster/Master– and more importantly, serves as a yardstick against which to assess progress in improving play performance. Karen Davis tied for second on the basis of Win-Loss records with a 3-1 record. She finished sixth on the basis of Performance Rating with a 5.44 PR in her four matches. Irina Litzenberger was nipping at her heels in seventh place with a 5.45 PR. Marjie Harbrecht and Marianne Bowen competed in the Level 2 Advanced BMAB division.

The highlight for many women players was the Annie Oakley Shootout won by Vera Holley from San Diego with Mary Wilson from Colorado in second place. Laura Granger (CO) won the Consolation. Backgammon. Winning. Women. sponsored recording and transcribing of all matches in the event so that participating women can review their matches and learn areas of strength and weakness. Lynda Clay matched the BWW contribution to provide added money to the prize pool.

Julius High, the Novice division director, has kindly agreed to provide a Zoom de-briefing of the Annie Oakley event and review of matches on Tuesday, October 31 at 8PM Eastern. Details to follow.

Women represented almost half of the ABT Division 3 (Intermediate) entrants -- 11 out of 24 entrants. Candace Mayeron made it to the Fourth Round of the Undefeated bracket. Carol Exley made it to the Fifth Round in the Undefeated field. Vera Holley finished third in the Main field. And women took all the winning top four spots in the Consolation – Marjie Harbrecht from Colorado won the Division 3 Consolation, with Maggie Sweeny from Michigan in second place. Gigi Goyette (CA) and Mary Wilson (CO) were in third/fourth place. What an exciting event!

Sue Will had a good tournament, making it to third/fourth in the Undefeated ABT Division 2 (Advanced) event, and the Fifth Round of the Consolation.

Karen Davis made it to the Fifth Round of the Main in the ABT Division 1 (Championship) event, Sixth Round of the Fighter’s Bracket, and Seventh Round of the Consolation in the ABT Division 1. Although she finished one round short of the top three winners, the highlight for her were wins against Grandmaster Dana Nazarian, and good performances in her losing matches with Grandmasters John O’Hagan and Kit Woolsey. She earned her spurs in top-rate competition.

Laura Granger (CO) teamed up with her son Cary Hoarty (OH) to win the Doubles event in a field of 32 teams! Laura also finished 2nd/3rd in the Sitting Bull Jackpot.

Jennifer Owens – new to tournament play -- won the Intermediate Jackpot in a field of 16 players!

Goldie Devalon won a scholarship covering entry fees and USBGF membership from generous women sponsors Lynda Clay, Karen Davis, and Gigi Goyette. She was nominated by her local Denver Backgammon Club.

Myra Gazvoda teamed up with tournament organizer Dan Minardi to win the most fun event of the tournament– the Cornhole Social! With 16 participants, it was no small feat tossing beanbags into holes in tournament posters 10 yards away. Grilled hot dogs, potato salad, chips, and soft drinks for participants and those cheering from the sidelines made it a tournament highlight!

Many thanks to Dan Minardi, tournament organizer, and Ben Friesen, tournament director for a great experience for all!

ABT - WILD WEST SHOOTOUT: 5th DENVER OPEN BACKGAMMON TOURNAMENT (Prelim) October 4-9, 2023; Denver, Colorado


ABT DIVISION 3 - WARRIORS (23): 1-Enrique Gomez (Mexico), 2-Victor Loiacono (CO), 3-Vera Holley (CA); 1C-Marjie Harbrecht (CO), 2C-Maggie Sweeney (MI).

BMAB-USA COLORADO DIVISION 1 (18): 1-John O'Hagan (IN), 2/5-Jim Curtis (IN) / Karen Davis (FL) / Roberto Litzenberger (VA) / Phil Perelmuter (FL) / William Reeves (CO).

DIVISION 3 JACKPOT (16): 1-Jennifer Owens (CO), 2-Cody Buchholz (CA).

DOUBLES SHOOTOUT (32 teams): 1-Laura Granger & Cary Hoarty, 2-Jim Curtis & Sean Garber, 3/4-Cody Buchholz & Paul Mangone / Rory Pascar & Tommy Tallarico.

ANNIE OAKLEY SHOOTOUT (14): 1-Vera Holley (CA), 2-Mary Wilson (CO); 1C-Laura Granger (CO).

SITTING BULL JACKPOT (24): 1-Kit Woolsey (CA), 2/3-Laura Granger (CO) / Stepan Nuniyants (WA).

CORNHOLE SOCIAL (16): 1-Myra Gazvoda (CO) & Dan Minardi (CO), 2-Cody Buchholz (CA) & Tommy Tallarico (CA).

Last week we had another great session of the BWW Book Club! If you weren't able to attend, you can watch at your leisure, below. Stay tuned for information on our third session coming soon!

The opening rolls are not often at the top of the heap of things to hone as we improve our play. Automatic right? Not so much, Bill Robertie, two-time World Champion, pulls out four, yes, just four, plays to discuss and everyone there found the discussion riveting. One master player said it was a great learning lesson for beginners and for advanced players. So, whatever your level of play, don't miss this. And for those who remember backgammon in the 70's, Bill's anecdote about Paul Magriel is a heart-warmer.

For the next few months, we'll be looking at some of the remarkable women in history known to have played backgammon. We're starting with Cleopatra.

Cleopatra is known as one of the most powerful women in ancient history, Cleopatra was not only a skilled ruler but also an avid player of backgammon. It is said that she often engaged in intense backgammon matches with her lovers and political allies, using the game as a strategic tool to gauge their loyalty


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