The votes all in and counted, I was delighted to announce the winners of the British Backgammon Awards at the UK Open at Coombe Abbey at the weekend, and hand out a bagful of framed certificates…
The awards cover the period since the last Awards, which happened in May as the UK Open and London Open swapped places in the calendar last year. However, nominations happened before the 2017 World Championships in Monte Carlo – do remember this year’s successes there when nominations open for the 2018 Awards!
British Player of the Year: Chris Rogers
Our nominees this year included two players who have dominated the #1 spot in the UKBGF ratings for the last year – Gaz Owen and Tim Cross. Gaz has joined the Giants list, and Tim has been a very successful team captain overseas. Two other major winners grabbed your attention – Wayne Felton (London Open and Turkey), and Cecilia Sparke (Ladies’ World Champion). Your favourite, though, was Chris – winner of the European Championship, runner up in the Monte Carlo Open, and with a string of other great results under his belt. He’s had a fantastic year and we look forward to more great results overseas in 2017-8.
International Player of the Year: Mochy
What can we say? Strongest player in the world, playing with a consistently outstanding PR, and giving a lot back to the game via giving seminars at tournaments, producing instructional videos and organising events for students and schools. Mochy has become synonymous with backgammon at the highest levels.
Tournament Directors of the Year: John Wright, Kev Jones and Mark Calderbank – The Blackpool Team
The Blackpool Imperial Cup is one of the most well loved tournaments in the country, and it’s almost full for 2018 nearly a year in advance. John, Kev and Mark have made it the huge success it is. But they have plenty more events to their collective names in the North West – the Manchester Monthlies and the North West League spring to mind, and Mark has run poker evenings at tournaments in the past as well. Being a TD is a thankless task at times and we really appreciate all their efforts.
Club Organiser of the Year: Sean Jones
Another behind-the-scenes job which takes a lot of dedication! In three years Sean has grown the Worcester club from scratch to a point where it’s got 50+ regular members, and they’ve sent a team to Ireland and three teams to the Clubs Championships, reaching the final 8 knockout. He’s also put a huge amount of effort into bringing through young players, providing training and taking them to major tournaments, and we have very high hopes for many of them to be regulars at the highest levels in years to come.
Most Significant Contributor to British Backgammon: The Whole UKBGF Team
You clearly couldn’t pick out one individual this year – though UK Captain Tim Cross was a clear second in the popular vote behind “everyone”…
While we do have individual roles and specialities, the Board is very much a team and everyone contributes a lot to the development of the UKBGF. They will now have to apply their organisational skills to manage the one certificate between them…
Board Designer of the Year: P-40
The voting was very close with perennial favourite Geoffrey Parker making a very strong showing. We were really pleased to see newcomers in this category with some really innovative offerings, including the UK’s Bone Club and P-40 from the US – and examples of all of them in action at Coombe Abbey. P-40 have clearly made a big impression over here, and we look forward to seeing more creative ideas in the year ahead.
Most Courteous Player of the Year: Richard Furborough
Backgammon wouldn’t be the same without a huge number of really great people – and it’s great to acknowledge them all. Richard’s well known on the tournament circuit, online in the All Backgammon Facebook Group and elsewhere, and a regular at the Lowestoft club – and of course a past UK Open winner. Always a pleasure to play – and a pleasure to have as a doubles partner. (Sorry about my rolling this weekend, Richard!)
Most Improved Player of the Year: Crispin Duke
For our final award we turned to the UKBGF Ratings to see who amongst established players (over 400 experience at 1st July 2016) had made the most progress upwards over the following year. Three names stood out as having made huge progess over the course of the year: Anna Price and Simon Hopper were within a handful of ratings points of the award – and I had the pleasure of presenting Anna’s gold medal from her tournament win at Mind Sports Olympiad this weekend – but Crispin topped the list. As you can see here, he’s been on an upwards trajectory for some time with some impressive runs of results.
Thankyou to everyone who nominated people for awards and voted – we hope you’ll agree there were a lot of very deserving people to pick from. And we look forward to another year of achievements to come…