Some time ago we published Starting a Club by Richard Biddle – the original article has evolved since to include some more ideas for getting a club off the ground, and it’s been very useful to pass on to people who are considering taking the plunge. It really isn’t that hard, it just takes a couple of people with the enthusiasm to make it through the early days and a friendly venue. So, having got started, how do you keep people coming back for more?
One of the early initiatives by the UKBGF board was to start awarding grants to new clubs that had taken their first steps, in order to help them get established. There were no specific pre-conditions on how to spend the £100, so each club could decide what they needed most and simply get on with it! A follow-up £50 is due after a year if the club is still going – and the first of these are now on the way out. So, we thought we’d catch up with one of our most successful recipients, over in Worcester…
My name’s Julia, and I’m a club backgammon addict. There, I said it.
It all really started at university; I arrived as a fresh-faced novice who imagined that having won repeatedly against a very exploitable Atari console made me a good player. That illusion was soon dispelled by a few sessions at the university’s backgammon club, and after finishing the first term near the bottom of the ladder the desire to master this infuriating game kicked in hard. I might as well have tattooed “future committee member” on my forehead at the same time, the club being quick to spot the
insanity enthusiasm which would in future keep things running.
University couldn’t last forever, despite my attempts to string it out. In time, the needs of a growing family and career got in the way of club play, and my usual fix has been online; from the early days of FIBS through a brief experiment with Party and then on to DailyGammon. It’s not the same, though. It’s not just the infamous droppers and suspiciously supernatural online players; the backgammon I love is a very social game. The best times I’ve had involved alcohol-fuelled bickering over dubious chouette cube decisions, the gentle teasing over jokers and blunders, the attempts at sympathy-garnering over a good hard-luck story. And who doesn’t feel that little extra buzz of slamming enemy men down on the bar with a flourish? Not a feeling you can get from a mouse click. It’s for that reason I’m convinced that our local clubs will be the bedrock of any development of the game, bringing people together regularly to enjoy the game at its best without the rather daunting financial outlay of the tournament circuit.