During the Covid period, when backgammon offerings to the members were clearly in short supply, the UKBGF took the bold decision to support BackgammonLondon in an ambitious initiative to take the flagship UK event – The UK Open – and create an online event for its members over the August 2020 Bank Holiday weekend.
The event was a clear success, attracting over 300 players and sponsored prizes from P-40. Following on from this success, in December 2020 BackgammonLondon presented to the Board their more daring initiative of a UK Online League and Cup for the members.
Development of this new event took place during the transition period between the old and new UKBGF Boards. Therefore, although Board members were fully supportive of the initiative, they recognised the need for the “Tournament Directorship” to remain within the control of David, Andrew, and Tony – the architects, designers and, ultimately, the creators of the event to ensure its launch for members from January 2021.
What we have created since January we believe to have been a huge success and at minimal cost: a cup competition sponsored by P-40 and the largest online League of its kind in the world. Both events are exclusive to UKBGF members and have attracted close to 400 players – over half our membership! League players in all divisions also benefit from bespoke dice-box prizes (see above) for all divisional winners every quarter during 2021.
In offering our members a platform to play during this difficult period, the uptake of new memberships and renewal of three-year memberships make it clear that the profile of the game has been raised, and that the UKBGF can be recognised as one of the pioneers in its re-emergence and expansion both at home and abroad.
As we are now at the end of the third quarter, David, Tony, and I are the first to acknowledge this has been a “work in progress”, ultimately recognising the trust and responsibility shown by not only the Board, but also you, the Members, for whom this is “your” League.
We have sought to administer the League in these trying times in a sensitive manner, while at the same time adopting a common-sense approach. Of course, we have also needed to establish some rules to facilitate the smooth running of the competition, and in this regard, we owe you all both an explanation and an apology.
Prior to the commencement of this quarter, to avoid last-minute arranging of games and the associated pressure on the TDs and other players, we inserted a new rule which stated that players who had not played any matches prior to September 1st would not be allowed to play at all in the current season.
Throughout this quarter, as in quarters one and two, we received mitigating reasons from several players as to why they could not complete all their matches. We exercised appropriate discretion and tolerance to the best of our ability. These players were permitted to complete their matches after 31st August, without pressure on either themselves or their opponents.
However, some players clearly did not meet this obligation. Despite nearly 50 players not having played by this date, with the only confirmation being on our website and in the introductory email to all players at the beginning of the Quarter, the visibility and implementation of this new Rule was, in our opinion, insufficient. For Q3 only, we have therefore decided not to enforce this rule.
We now take this opportunity to hold our hands up in unison as your Tournament Directors and admit that this rule needs to be better implemented, and that it will be the in next quarter (October – December).
Please note therefore that in Q4, you MUST (save notifying us of mitigating circumstances of course) play at least 1 match within the first 8 weeks. Hopefully this is asking very little of each and every one of us and will ensure momentum and equity for all players.
To all offending players, this quarter you have had a reprieve. Please take note: respect your fellow group members, be proactive next season, and start arranging your matches early rather than leaving it up to the others. After all, as a UKBGF member, this is your league.
On a note of recognition, as the P-40 Cup competition edges to its conclusion, we congratulate Gaz Owen and Kev Jones as our finalists, who defeated Reece Hodges and John McNeil respectively in the two semi-finals of the tournament.
To all of you who won their groups a dice-box is on its way to you with our hearty congratulations!
As ever we thank you for your support and will continue to do our best.
Andrew Selby, David Potter, Tony Lezard