During the pandemic, online play has been the only option for most of us. The two dominant platforms recently have been Backgammon Galaxy and Backgammon Studio Heroes, but there’s a new kid on the block….
Backgammon Hub (“Hub”) is a new and growing site offering sophisticated tournament functionality as well as one-to-one scheduled matches. It was designed and built for small clubs that have been driven online by the pandemic and for players wanting to arrange that online league match with an opponent, or simply for matches with a friend. The site is hosted on Amazon cloud, so it won’t suffer scalability issues as it grows.
The platform has been developed and is maintained in the UK by Alfie Kirkpatrick. Alfie describes how it all started….
I began work on Backgammon Hub at the start of the first lockdown. I was running a small tournament in Kensal Rise pre-lockdown and wanted to move this online. I began by using Challonge for the tournament logic and Galaxy for the gameplay. This proved challenging, both to participants (having to coordinate with each other in the busy Galaxy lobby!) and for me as the TD (entering results in Challonge while trying to play my matches).
I looked briefly at Heroes but even as a tech-savvy user it is quite daunting. I couldn’t imagine my players, many of whom are not very computer literate, using Heroes.
With an itch to scratch and some spare time I started Backgammon Hub! The goal was to combine the gameplay and tournament logic into a single unified experience with a focus on simplicity.
With advice and feedback from several TDs, in particular Dicky Biddle of BucksGammon and, more recently, Sion Edwards of Backgammon in Ealing, the site gradually began to take shape. It is already being used to host regular tournaments by Zigi Fibert of CATS (Chesham/Amersham/Thame) and Sean Thomas of EKBGC (East Kent), as well as by Dicky and Sion. It is popular with tournament directors and players because of the fully integrated experience and ease of use, and it has rapidly become one of the few premiere online backgammon sites alongside Heroes and Galaxy.
Alfie has invested many hours of his time developing Hub and of course there are running costs which will increase as more clubs decide to organise regular tournaments on the UK’s first modern ‘home-grown’ server. To encourage more clubs to give Backgammon Hub a try, the UKBGF has become a sponsor. As a result, Hub will be completely free of charge for all users at least until the end of 2021.
General game play
- Same controls and smooth game play as Galaxy
- Preview opponent’s moves
- Built-in video calling
- PR and luck displayed after match
- Match file download to XG or GNUBG
- Authentic sounds!
- Anyone can become a TD and set up a club
- Tournament registration and check in
- Swiss, Round Robin and Elimination stages
- Multi-stage tournaments (qualifiers, finals, consolation)
- Timed match check-in and various clock options with forfeit
- Email players
- Tournament chat
- Club standings based on a master points system
- Bulk upload of tournament results into the UKBGF online ratings
- Initiate a match then message back and forth to agree a time
- Friend list – easily invite people you’ve played before
- Clock options (including no clock)
- Pause match and highlight points on the board
- Rewind match to previous positions
- Import saved position from XG
- Export current position to XG for analysis
And coming soon…
- Accessibility features for partially sighted players
- Detailed match analysis
Note that Backgammon Hub doesn’t have a public lobby, so it’s not currently possible to play instantly with strangers as you can on Galaxy or Heroes. Alfie welcomes all feedback and suggestions – just use the feedback link at the bottom of each page!