…are not always the first things you connect, but last weekend players turned out at eleven locations around the UK for our first al fresco event Backgammon In The Sun 2015. Several organisers must have had their nerves tested by some overnight rain and uncertain forecasts, but on the day we were duly rewarded with a gloriously warm afternoon.
The working title had been “…in the Parks” but a variety of venues were used, some in public parks, others in coffee houses and pub gardens – the only condition was that play was outside! Each club hosted a tournament of one-point games, to both entertain the regulars and get newcomers interested in the game, the precise format at each location depending on numbers.
Short games may not satisfy the occasional purist but it means we can fit plenty of rounds in, take time to be sociable, and make sure everyone gets to meet a variety of opponents – and the lack of a doubling cube means it’s easier to get complete beginners involved, which is part of the point of playing in public!
There was of course plenty of time for local league matches and friendlies to fill in the gaps between tournament games, and spend a bit of time teaching people completely new to the game… it was great to see a real mixture of regulars, old friends and novices.
That’s not to say the afternoon was completely smooth – there are several hazards you don’t get playing indoors at a club, such as visits from seagulls in Bristol and Worcester who steal food, break the china and take the occasional potshot… and one random passer-by who reported a “gambling cesspit of iniquity” in Holland Park Cafe!
The day produced a winner at each venue, and in addition to taking home some rather nice trophies they all now progress into an online elimination round, with one lucky winner getting a trip to the UK Open in September.
Overall about 150 players had a very enjoyable afternoon – some clubs are planning to run more local outdoor events this summer as a result, and we’re going to get started on a 2016 coordinated event, hopefully with even more venues in the mix. Fingers crossed that the sun comes out for us all again!