Many thanks to everyone who took the time to send in nominations for the British Backgammon Awards. We’re now in a position to announce the shortlists. All the awards are really competitive and just being nominated is something to be proud of.
British Player of the Year:
- Aref Alipour
- Jon Barnes
- Peter Bennet
- Sebastian Wilkinson
- Steve Bibby
- Tim Cross
- Yan Kit Chan
International Player of the Year:
- Akiko Yazawa
- Carter Mattig
- Nodar Gagua
Tournament Director of the Year:
- Keith Gill
- Kev Jones, John Wright and Mark Calderbank
- Richard Biddle
- Rick Janowski, Benia Kuczynska and Mark Adkins
- Simon Morecroft
- Steve Lee
- Tim Line and Ian Tarr
Club Organiser of the Year:
- Chris Purchase
- Ian Tarr
- Kevin Jones
- Richard Biddle
- Sean Jones
- Sean Thomas
Most Significant Contributor to British Backgammon of the Year:
- Julia Hayward
- Mark Calderbank
- Richard Biddle
- Tim Cross
Board Designer of the Year:
- Andrew Pinkus
- Bone Club
- Erhan 869bg
- Geoffrey Parker
Most Courteous / Sporting Player:
- Andrew Selby
- Anna Price
- Bek Barbaros
- CJ Uttley
- Dave Pritchard
- Derek Cooper
- Gaz Owen
- Lawrence Jones
- Lawrence Powell
- Michael Flesch
- Peter Bennet
- Sue Keeble
Voting is about to start on SurveyMonkey, and a link to access the voting page will be mailed out to members imminently. If you don’t receive yours or need assistance, drop firstname.lastname@example.org a line. Voting will close at midnight on Friday 24th August and the winners will be revealed at the UK Open! To give you some help, Tim has penned some biographies of our leading players; read on…
British Player of the Year
Aref Alipour: Aref has had yet another strong year, keeping his excellent wins to entries percentage in UK tournaments extremely high. This year he has won the St Albans Open and at the time of writing he is in the last three of the European Online Champions Cup. Keeping his backgammon performance so high whilst cycling non stop deserves respect in itself.
Jon Barnes: Jon won the UK Open doubles title with Anna Clarke, was runner up at Brighton BIBA, then topped this with wins at the West Yorkshire Open and Blackpool. He has continued his incredible form with recent last 8 and last 4 appearances at Cambridge and Liverpool respectively. At the time of writing he is the current World Doubles Champion with Eric McAlpine and he was a member of the St Albans team that won the UK Clubs Championships and is presently ranked No 3 in the UKBGF ratings.
Peter Bennet: Peter has had a great year dominating the London Players league by winning division one for three successive quarters. He also had three major tournament successes: the Bristol Open and the Worcester Turkey tourney on the UKBGF tour and the 32-player prestigious Mochy/Michy challenge. He attended two BMAB events and the reason for this success became apparent with PRs of 4.05 and 4.02 the latter being the best PR performance at that event. All this success has also been reflected in the UKBGF ratings in which he was number one from December to April and currently occupies second position.
Sebastian Wilkinson: This last year has seen Seb recognised on the international stage becoming a member of the prestigious top 32 Giants list. His staggering sub 3 PR performance at BMAB earned him a well deserved Grandmaster title. He has also represented the UK playing on the higher boards and was a major part in the success of the UK team winning both the European Online Championship and the Nations Cup at the Nordic Open Nations Cup.
Steve Bibby: Steve couldn’t have started the last year off better than his win at the UK Open. This was then followed by other consistent performances to dominate the UKBGF tour 2017 and win the tour by a record margin. He has followed this up in 2018 by reaching the final of the Mochy/Michy challenge and even though he lost to Michy he outplayed him PR wise which is something our friend Michy doesn’t experience often. At the time of writing Steve is in 4th place in the UKBGF ratings confirming his 2017 successes weren’t just a flash in the pan.
Tim Cross: Tim has completed an unprecedented run of three consecutive BMAB victories, won the Newcastle Open and appeared in the final of two other UKBGF tour events whilst being a permanent fixture in the UKBGF top three. Tim’s real passion though is the UK backgammon team and this year has seen him captain the UK team to victories in three out of four events, the European Online Championship, the Nations Cup at the Nordic Open, and the warm up at the World Team Championships.
Yan Kit Chan: Yan was a finalist in the UK Open in both 2015 and 2017, he also recently won the inaugural Cambridge Open. Yan is a very highly respected and friendly player whom tournament directors and players alike are always happy to have in a tournament. Yan is an inspiration to all who know him and has been very helpful in promoting the game whenever he can.
Overseas Player of the Year
Akiko Yazawa: Akiko has had yet another trailblazing year being the first woman and only the fourth player to win the World Championship in Monte Carlo on more than one occasion. Akiko has done this with her normal sportsmanship and grace whilst showing an admirable determination to fight all obstacles in her way on and off the backgammon table. She has yet again been voted in the top ten of the Giants list and we are honoured to have her as a guest in the UK this month at both the UK Open and Brighton Summer Open.
Carter Mattig: Carter has had an incredible year and not just at the backgammon board. Turning 50, meeting his birth mother and celebrating his tenth wedding anniversary. Carter’s main success during the year was winning the World’s biggest tournament in Cyprus, but he backed that up with other successes in USA and Denmark. The backgammon world would bee a much poorer place without the effervescent Carter – the only recipient ever of BMAB’s PR buster certificate.
Michihito Kageyama: Michy honoured us with his attendance at the West Yorkshire Open and unsurprisingly went away with victories in the Michy/Mochy challenge and Super Jackpot. Michy was yet again voted at number two in the Giants list after successes around the globe including Cherry Blossom and Markowitz Masters Super Jackpots. Despite a small experience point total Michy already occupies number 4 spot in the UKBGF ratings.
Masayuki Mochizuki: Mochy, the World’s number one Giant for the third successive time has had another year to remember on the international backgammon circuit. Victories at Oui Sen tournament and Super Jackpot at Merit Open, finalist at the prestigious World Series at Sochi were backed up with other successes at smaller events. Perhaps Mochy’s greatest achievement this year was to become the first, and so far only, Super Grandmaster at BMAB. For this he had to play at below 2.5 PR average for 300 experience points – an incredible achievement.
Nodar Gagua: Nodar is a gentleman on and off the backgammon board and a credit to his mother country Georgia. His incredible success this year proves that sometimes nice guys come out on top. He had outright wins at the St Casino Campione challenge, Ist Kazan Open speedgammon, Worldwide backgammon trophy, seniors World Championship, Georgian Open Super Jackpot. He won both the individual title and Super Jackpot at the European Backgammon Championships in Reykjavik, the Venice Open Championship and the Russian Open Super Jackpot, plus many other late stage appearances in tournaments worldwide to complete his spectacular year.
Here’s what our nominators said about their nominees in the other categories –
Tournament Director of the Year
Keith Gill: Keith has acted as TD at the last two Newcastle Opens within six months of each other when the event was moved to earlier in the year. They were both very successful and popular as well as new to the regular UKBGF calendar – he was instrumental in the organisation of both events. In addition he has acted as TD at several of our one day events & all these greatly benefited from Keith’s calm organisational skills.
Kev Jones, John Wright and Mark Calderbank: “Blackpool was incredibly, even better this year….innovation and
excellence. Electronic draw sheets available to all and table numbers work brilliantly…
-the addition of a buy back blitz had people talking and talking and it was clear no one knew precisely what they were doing… except Steves’ Bibby and Lee.”
Rick Janowski, Benia Kuczynska and Mark Adkins: “BMAB continues to run impressively professional tournaments regularly – you know you’re going to have a great experience”
Richard Biddle: “singlehandedly running London’s expanding League, 52 weeks of the year”
Simon Morecroft: “The London Open was another success – organising so many players is a huge task and many thanks to Simon for taking it on and making it happen”
Steve Lee: “Steve directed the West Yorkshire open which I attended with my son and Steve made us feel very welcome before during and after the event, as well as being very patient with us both helping to make sure we knew what was going to happen and made us feel part of it all. In addition the side events: doubles and one point shoot outs seemed like a natural part of the flow. I’m sure all tournament directors deserve thanks and credit but my experience in my first event for years was such a positive one I’d like to nominate Steve.”
“Puts so much into running tournaments in the North and all without any financial reward even taking a financial risk to promote the West Yorkshire Open and make it so successful”
Tim Line and Ian Tarr: “Bristol continues to be a really popular tournament – notable for the number of overseas players who go out of their way to visit. It was a pleasure to be part of it”
Club Organiser of the Year
Chris Purchase: “I want to nominate Chris Purchase and I wonder why I have not done this before. He runs an excellent and popular club in St Albans and does this consistently with an excellent spirit, lots of enthusiasm and endless patience. 53 times a year…..”
Ian Tarr: “no doubt in my mind about this. Ian has put in a huge amount of work to Bristol for the last few decades and continues to do so. Bristol Backgammon would not exist without him!”
Sean Jones: “I’d like to nominate Sean Jones as Club Organiser of the year please. Terrific welcome and encouragement for new joiners and visitors, facilitating lots of players into tournaments, fair decisions on some very tricky situations and brilliant atmosphere at the club to name just a few things.”
“The Worcester Club continues to grow in both numbers and playing strength in no small way due to the enthusiasm of Sean.”
Most Significant Contributor of the Year
Julia Hayward: “Continues to work so hard for UK backgammon but does it with her own lovely style and nature”
“… puts in lots of work organising online and other tournaments”
Mark Calderbank: “Not only a top level player but his work behind the scenes made Blackpool a really impressive experience”
Richard Biddle: “for the incredible amount of effort time and energy he puts in to organise clubs and leagues to play back gammon
The London League, The champions League, The Chesham Ladder and the many clubs he runs regularly which attract lots of players. Clubs in North London, Fulham and Chesham.
He has also supported and contributed to the start of two additional clubs, in Thame and Amersham. Here the club organisers were actively encouraged by Richard and these clubs are now established and growing.”
Tim Cross: “Tim’s run as Team UK Captain has been remarkably successful. But at the same time he always has time to support the grass-roots game, visiting clubs (established and new) and encouraging new players, and touring the country for tournaments – he’s a fantastic ambassador for the game”
Board Designer of the Year
Andrew Pinkus: “beautiful boards”
Erhan 869bg: “Erhan is incredibly deserving of this award and it would mean a HUGE amount to him to win it. He has repeatedly supplied boards at less than cost price to events, especially if they are charity events like Blackpool which he has supported for the last 3 years. He has provided the UKBGF surfaces – again at less than cost price and did the same for the Backgammon World Championships the year before. Many players in the UK have purchased one of his very fine and reasonably priced custom boards.”
“Erhan has not only provided really attractive and personally designed boards over many year, he’s supported the backgammon community and charities as well by providing special ones as prizes. He’s definitely the most creative designer.”
Bone Club: “Good to see a value board on the market as well as all the beautiful but expensive ones”
“I witnessed very recently a purchaser of a Bone Club board ask if they could help as she had a problem with the handle of her
board… the response was immediate… as the lady was an early purchaser she was given another board free of charge. That is some customer service…..”
Geoffrey Parker: “The ultimate boards – and great to see them supporting backgammon by providing boards for tournament streaming, and their sponsorship of the game”
P40: “Definitely the most innovative boards – a lot of thought has gone into them”
Most Courteous / Sporting Player of the Year
Andrew Selby: “always gracious in defeat!”
Bek Barbaros: “…an opponent who has provided me with my best backgammon moments this year”
CJ Uttley: “CJ was very helpful when I first joined the backgammon scene, always a lot of fun to play, and some good banter thrown in for good measure.”
Lawrence Jones: “…a newcomer full of enthusiasm and a gentleman at the board”
Michael Flesch: “He is always very polite and friendly whether he wins or loses . Also in the London Open someone “took” one of his checkers from his board when he was away and he managed to retrieve it with great diplomacy and tact .”
Sue Keeble: “always a pleasure to play”
Many thanks to everyone who took the time to write in!