On Saturday 8th of April, the bunnies congregated at the Royal British Legion Club in Cornmeadow Lane, Worcester. The new home of Worcester Backgammon Club has now hosted several tournaments and for this we are grateful. The Turkey, Intermediate, Turkey Earthquake Appeal and now the Bunny Bash (NB. Bash in no way suggests cruelty to rabbits, but refers to a party!) Apologies for the ‘woke’ statement!
It is crucial to the life of backgammon to have venues to meet in that are relatively inexpensive. It is important never to take them for granted. Simply supporting what the venue does to keep it going is not asking a lot. Purchasing drink or food is necessary to the life blood of the backgammon community, to enable us to run relatively inexpensive tournaments and allow us to continue to grow the beautiful game.
The Director of Technical Affairs, David Sanders, prepares the desk. Having already done the spreadsheets and google sheets, he has tested them to ensure they work. Testing is done a few times with different scenarios depending on the number of players and the whimsical decision making of the Tournament Director, Sean Jones. It is known that in the run up to a tournament David does turn his ringtone to silent! So, logic and creativity work hand in hand to produce the groundwork for a successful tournament.
The players arrive, the anticipation is palpable. The Directors mandatory speech is due. Registrations and side pools sorted; Sean Jones gets up. The room goes silent (as if!) and a pin can be heard drop (you are making this up!) One player came up for a special mention. Having recently turned a milestone and still challenging people around the country in his play. A man with quite a unique story. An engineer, author of several Haynes manuals, helped to build some nuclear stations, travelled around the world working on ships and, by his own admission a gigolo! Mervyn Bleach reached eighty and is well known for helping wherever he is and popular with all tournament directors for his practical assistance. The spiel continues… Dice… side of cup… Clocks… sportsmanship… timings… fire… eggs… and after some time it ends. The games begin.
The Bunny Lady
Behind every great tournament director is (or at least should be) a Bunny lady. Would be incredibly missed if not present-imagine; no coffee, milk, sugar, biscuits, eggs and many other little details that can be missed if someone doesn’t get it done. The Bunny Lady had her ears on full display and being detachable they ended up on the heads of some other people.
The blessed forty-eight begin the four rounds of backgammon. The aim is three wins or three losses depending on your target. Fastest way to consolation is three losses! To accentuate the positive, qualification to the consolation in the least painless way could be considered a win. However, for those serious players the route is three wins, no losses to get to the top six and automatic qualification to the last 16.
The most notable round was round three, the culling of the couples. By chance a couple of couples ended up playing each other. Cheryl Oliver played her husband Robin and he managed to get the better of Cheryl. As it happens Robin continued to succeed and made it all the way to the semi-final only to be knocked out by Jamie MacPherson, the eventual Bunny Champion. Mike Wood fared the same fate as Cheryl and was beaten by his partner Anne. Would not want to be in the car on the way home!!!
In tournaments there is often a period where you are hanging around a bit waiting for your next match. This can never be eliminated, but Sean had a plan to keep the top six who only need to play three matches and the bottom six who only needed to lose three matches to either be in the last sixteen or qualify for the consolation tournament. He created a mini tournament for these twelve players as they did not need to play the fourth round of the Swiss.
CJ went on to join Jamie MacPherson in the final. Jamie won the match and the crown of Bunny of the Year 2023.
The Challenge of pip counting two fat ladies
Towards the end of the tournament, the last few matches of the main and consolation were moved to a smaller room so another function could take place in the larger room. To make the challenge of playing backgammon at a high level, a session of bingo was happening at the same time as the last few matches of the game. This would distract the weaker minded!
Concurrently with the last 16 the Consolation tournament was underway. This ended in a battle between Rachel Rhodes and John Georgiou. John used his Jedi mind tricks and won.
Another great tournament by the team at Worcester. This time an event held to raise money for the awful tragedy in Turkey brought together at short notice. A good response from the friends of Worcester means that we raised a total of £1520 for this cause.
A tournament borne out of a simple Facebook post. One of our members had to withdraw from our usual online tournament to mourn the loss of family, friends and their fellow citizens. ‘I can’t play during 6 weeks depend on mourning. I lost my friends and members of family. Pray for to Turkey Thanks.’
The tragedy became very immediate.
Not just a story on the news, it was something that affected someone close to the club, someone relatively new to the club, who had joined us for our intermediate tournament and had won the final chance. The touch of the human tragedy was palpable and Mochy was mobilizing in his own way an online tournament to raise funds for Turkey-Syria. We could not see why we shouldn’t do something too, to raise funds at this crucial time for our friend and her people.
Ever the action man, Sean Jones decided to buy an ArtGammon board and offer it as a prize and Ian Gwynne, always the generous sponsor of Worcester Backgammon club, offered food to the tournament and David Sanders offered his professional expertise in putting together a website and the necessary spreadsheets etc. to get the registration and donations recorded and coordinate the tournament during the day.
A lot goes into arranging a tournament. At Worcester we have all the skills to bring together a tournament at short notice. With a lot of support from our sister club in Birmingham, we had a good number of people register and many donated even though they knew they were unable to attend. It was a real inspiration for the club to see the support we got from players around the country as well as our own club members. One very brave member made this the first tournament she attended, and hopefully not the last!
We all arrived in the morning hopeful of taking the ArtGammon board home with us, but that is not in the slightest bit true! I should be a BBC reporter! We were all there to have some fun and raise money for a good cause. Sean started by explaining how to roll dice (again). Then got to the substance of the day, raising money for the earthquake victims. An issue with charities is you do not know which ones to trust. Sean explained his POA (Plan of Action) for the money raised. He had been given the name of a non-governmental charity with a good track record in helping victims. We also had our friend who was taking stuff out to Turkey, direct to the victims. It was agreed with those present that we would send the first thousand pounds raised to the nominated charity and the rest to our friend to spend on items to give directly.
The tournament started as a round robin group stage followed by a straightforward knockout. This meant a lot of matches for the players. In the end the finalists were Julian Minwalla and Ian Gwynne.
After some excellent and enjoyable matches, the final was played between Ian Gwynne and Julian Minwalla on the prize board. The match had more twists than a crafty corkscrew, particularly in the last two games with multiple jokers and anti-jokers, until eventually Julian came out as the victor.
The XG transcript of the final can be downloaded here: ian_gwynne-julian_minwalla_9_point_match_18-03-2023_replay.xg
The full results are available on the website at
If you would like to donate to this cause, please contact Sean at Sean.Jones@2plan.com and we will make sure your kind donation reaches those in need. Many thanks.
Everyone was a winner this day as together a total of £1,160 was raised for the Charity. What a way to spend a day, playing backgammon and raising money for those less fortunate than ourselves. And of course, the prize of being Top Turkey in UK or Top Chick in UK. There is only one Turkey and Chick title in the UK in backgammon and it is awarded by the Worcester Backgammon Club
We cannot leave this poultry event without acknowledging some very special people (we will miss someone, but unintentional!) Firstly, David Sanders for putting all the technology and website in place to allow the easy registration and scoring for the various events held on this day, for corresponding to queries and generally helping make it happen. Secondly, the tournament director and expert dice shaker, Sean Jones. Keeping the tournament focussed and on task. Rounding up the Turkeys and Chicks to play their games and abide by the rules. Then the real powerhouses behind such an event; Karen Jones-chief present wrapper, raffle seller, curry dispenser, kitchen manager and so much more. Mervyn Bleach-general helper, cleaner and team support. Michelle Ford-volunteer helping Karen do all the things asked including the stressful Curry dispensing and tidying up. Kerry Jones-Dishwasher and assistant kitchen organiser. For the fantastic lunch supplied by the fabulous Ian Gwynne. Finally our thanks to the Claines British Legion Club and the manager Dave for embracing the Worcester Backgammon Club and its tournaments. So many people who work to make this tournament what it is-the only one of its kind-Turkeys and Chicks Rock!
Website now live for next year-not taking registrations yet, but keep it bookmarked!
Held on 28th December 2022, the results of the 8th Turkey Tourney are as follows:
Congratulations to all. In addition to a fun day of backgammon, we also managed to raise £1,160 for our nominated charity, Worcester Street Café, through generous contributions, raffle and entry fees. Many thanks.
Worcester Intermediates Open 2022 Results
Main Winner: Aydin Kolcak
Main Runner-up: Gregge Madan
Main Semi-finalists: Fak Laight, Tom Thorpe
Consolation Winner: Sarah Jolliff
Consolation Runner-up: Paul Hunt
Consolation Semi-finalists: Alex Hannam, Charles Pickard
Last Chance Winner: Melek Say
Last Chance Runner-up: Hannah Parente
Full results: worcester-open.weebly.com/brackets.html
Special thanks to Bone Club for sponsoring this event and providing doubling cubes for the winners.
Reproduced here with kind permission from Phil:
Here is why I NEVER complain about the rolls, or luck:
Note: Phil Simborg first wrote and published this article in 1987 and has not once complained about the dice or luck since. (During that time, however, Phil has had ulcers, a mild heart attack, a slipped disc in his back brought on by tension, high blood pressure, various well-known fits of temper and mild depression, short-term memory loss, divorce, gout, carpal tunnel, hip replacement, excessive weight gain and loss, various obsessive and compulsive habits.)
Worcester players gave a good performance at the local Midlands Open, held at our sister club, Birmingham Backgammon club in Moseley this past weekend.
Jamie MacPherson (pictured above, 2nd from left) was runner-up in the Consolation final, and Worcester pair John Georgiou and Maz Maszlag (not pictured) once again made a strong showing in the doubles competition, coming in as runners-up. Two Worcester players, Sean Jones and David Sanders, made it to the final 16 of the Main competition but unfortunately couldn't progress further.
Congratulation to the team from Birmingham, Matthew, Alex and Michele for organizing an enjoyable weekend tournament, great prizes and the sweet taste of honey jars for all attendees.
The next local tournament is the Worcester Intermediates on 12th November as part of the UKBGF tour. Make sure you are registered at worcester-open.weebly.com/ as places are filling up fast!
After having increased the field size at the upcoming Worcester Intermediates Open to 64 due to demand, there are currently only 10 places left. If you would like to take part in this one-day tournament hosted by Worcester Backgammon Club on Saturday 12th November, make sure to register now!