Dear Backgammon Players,
I am writing to update you on the progress that the United Kingdom Backgammon Federation has made in its first year of operations.
Twelve months ago my fellow directors and I were voted onto the Board of the UKBGF. Our first priority was to set our two year objectives for the organisation. We published those in January here: http://ukbgf.com/ukbgf-future/
I want to cover each of the objectives in turn.
To have 250 members
I am pleased to report that our current membership is 209 players, a large majority of whom are Premium members. We are well on target to hit 250 members by the end of next year.
To be financially viable
Membership revenues are covering the costs of running the organisation. Tournaments run by the UKBGF are mostly self-sufficient. Initiatives such as auctioning membership numbers have given us a small but comfortable cash cushion. A number of benefactors have generously given funds.
To have run successful UK Opens in 2015 and 2016
The 2015 UK Open was a huge success with over 130 participants. Next year the UK Open will be held on 20th, 21st and 22nd May 2016 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. Full details of this tournament will soon appear on the UKBGF website.
To have coordinated a 2016 UKBGF UK Backgammon Tour
I am delighted to be able to announce that the UK Backgammon Tour 2016 will consist of the following tournaments: Bright ‘n’ Breezy (15th, 16th, 17thJanuary), the St. Albans Open (30th April, 1st May), the UK Open (20th,21st,22nd May), the Blackpool Open (17th, 18th, 19th June), the Liverpool Open (16th, 17th July), the London Open (27th, 28th and 29th August), the Bristol Open (28th, 29th 30th October) and the Manchester Open (11th, 12th, 13th November). Full details about scoring and participation has been published here.
To have UKBGF affiliated events running across the UK
We have UKBGF events running as part of the UK Tour, run directly by the UKBGF (such as the UK Open, the London Open and the Clubs Championships) and running as part of our ratings system. We have over 35 clubs and tournaments across the UK actively affiliated to the UKBGF through the ratings system.
To have run successful UK Clubs Tournaments in 2015 and 2016
The UK Clubs Championship 2015 saw 14 teams compete in a great day’s backgammon. Feedback was universally positive. The 2016 UK Clubs Championship is on August 14th at the Grosvenor Didsbury Casino, Manchester.
To have robust governance arrangements in place
We have a documented constitution. We have a dedicated bank account that is monitored by Peter Bennet (Vice-Chair and Treasurer) and Sean Williams (Chair). The UKBGF Board meets on a monthly basis and all Actions and Minutes are recorded and circulated with 3 days of the meeting. All UKBGF Board Meetings open with a review of the previous month’s actions. The Board communicates regularly with the membership through emails and the website.
To have positive partnerships with other stakeholders
The UKBGF has good relationships with most backgammon tournament organisers in the UK. We have mutually beneficial relationships with teachers, organisers, board vendors, app developers and software companies. Sponsorship has been agreed with both Geoffrey Parker Games Ltd and Backgammon Ace.
To have significantly grown the game and introduced many new players to the UK backgammon scene
The UKBGF has undertaken a number of key initiatives to grow the game and to introduce new players to backgammon. These have included: the national Backgammon in the Sun Tournament, the £100 start-up grant for new backgammon clubs, distributing marketing materials including cards and flyers, maintaining an active social media presence, search engine optimisation activity, partnering with online backgammon sites and applications, teaching backgammon to beginners and running beginners’ tournaments at events such as the UK Open. Next year will see us expand this activity including promoting backgammon at the UK’s biggest gaming convention.
To have every backgammon club and league in the UK affiliated to the UKBGF
Over 35 clubs and tournaments report their results to the UKBGF and form part of our ratings system. From 2016 all matches played at BIBA tournaments will count towards the UKBGF ratings.
To maintain a public database of every backgammon match result from every UKBGF affiliated club and tournament
The UKBGF has sourced the best possible backgammon database to store and publish match results. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Tony Lezard for creating this system and giving it to the UKBGF free of charge. We now have over 24,000 match results in the system. New results are constantly being added by Tournament Directors across the UK.
To maintain an up-to-date register of UK backgammon clubs and increase the number of these clubs in the UK
An up-to-date register of UK Clubs is maintained in the UKBGF website. The number of such clubs in the UK has grown substantially over the past year due in no small part to the support offered by the UKBGF including the New Club Start-up Assistance Scheme.
To have a world-class, regularly updated website including specialist content for members such as annotated matches
Julia Hayward has done a magnificent job leading the UKBGF’s communications activity. The UKBGF website is regularly updated. We are the first result for UK backgammon on most major search engines. We have articles from world class players and are building our database of matches. Specialist content for members will be a priority for us in 2016. Our website typically receives 250 visitors a day and this number is on an upward trend.
To have a world-class social media presence
The UKBGF Facebook and Twitter accounts are regularly updated and accessed. We now Tweet from major tournaments across the UK and internationally. Our Twitter feed has over 400 followers and our Facebook page has over 800 ‘likes’.
To have a compelling membership package that offers excellent value-for-money to potential and existing members
None of the objectives above would have been achievable without membership revenues. The UKBGF is a powerful force for promoting and organising backgammon in the UK. We still have a ‘free rider’ problem with some UK backgammon players deriving many of the benefits that come from having a UKBGF without actually becoming members and contributing to the maintenance of the organisation. We will be working to alleviate this issue in 2016.
To be working positively with European and World backgammon bodies to promote the game more widely
Raj Jansari represents the UKBGF on the European Backgammon Federation. The UKBGF rules took many months to develop and are being adopted by a number of other federations within Europe and elsewhere. We have good relationships and regular communication with Backgammon Federations across the world including in the US, Japan and Denmark. The UKBGF is the recognised UK governing body for all international team events, both for live and online competitions under our appointed captain, Tim Cross.
2015 has been a busy and productive year for the UKBGF. 2016 will see us redouble our efforts to grow backgammon in the UK.
At the end of 2016 we will have elections for the UKBGF Board going forward. Some of the current UKBGF Board will stand for re-election. Some will not. I will be stepping down at the end of 2016 both as Chair and from the Board. It is vital for the future of the organisation that a broad spectrum of good people stand for election. The current board would like to hear now from potential candidates so that we can organise a steady transition across 2016 ready for the new Board in 2017.
Roll well and I hope to see you all soon,
United Kingdom Backgammon Federation