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Most backgammon clubs and tournaments cater only to players who are prepared to invest a significant amount of money in playing the game. The Open division of most European tournaments will have an entry fee of around pounds 350 and even the beginners' section will often cost in excess of pounds 100. This is fine for the competent (and relatively well off) player but what about those who don't want to, or can't afford to, play for this sort of money? How do they gain the experience to move from novice to expert?

Most players start by playing in small groups among friends and at the same time try to improve their skills by reading any available books and magazines - an area in which the UK is particularly badly served at the moment. Eventually, however, playing the same two or three people over and over again begins to pall, and the enthusiastic player seeks better and more varied competition. How should he or she go about this?

Here we are lucky to have the British Isles Backgammon Association (BIBA). The brainchild of Michael Crane and Jim Johnson, the organisation has just celebrated its fifth birthday. It has a growing membership and regularly organises tournaments which attract 100 or more players. The key point about BIBA is that it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to play, with a pounds 20 entry fee enough for their costliest tournament.

BIBA organises tournaments, both knock-out and Swiss format, at least half a dozen times a year. They are normally held at a venue in central England, are well organised and great fun to play in. They provide exactly what the improving player requires: match practice against a variety of opposition. Each tournament also has an instruction seminar.

BIBA also publishes an excellent quarterly newsletter, will put you in contact with local players and clubs and sells backgammon merchandise from around the world. All in all, it is providing an excellent service for British backgammon.

Full details from: BIBA, 2 Redbourne Drive, Lincoln LN2 2HG.