Games: Backgammon

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The Independent Online
I have written before of the excellent work that BIBA (British Isles Backgammon Association) is doing for the game in this country. By organising tournaments with entry fees that all players can afford it provides something which very few other countries have - amateur tournaments where anyone can come along and play, irrespective of their level of skill. Under the leadership of Michael Crane BIBA continues to go from strength to strength, and now boasts some 700 members, with well over 100 regularly entering their tournaments.

The schedule of events for 1998 has just been published with more tournaments than ever before. The first of these will be held from 2-4 January at the Stakis Brighton Metropole Hotel and features the added attraction of two two-hour seminars from Paul Magriel, former world champion and author of the definitive book Backgammon.

Five years ago I was lucky enough to have the benefit of some private lessons with Paul. His understanding of the game and his ability to pass on that knowledge to others are rare qualities and I certainly benefitted significantly from those sessions. Most of us learn haphazardly, the majority of our learning coming through playing. If you consistently play with the same group of people your playing strength is unlikely to improve very much. Studying books is a marked improvement because it provides structure to the learning experience. Even better than studying books is to have concepts, strategies and tactics explained to you by someone who really understands what they are talking about and can communicate clearly. Half a dozen one-hour lessons can radically improve anyone's playing strength.

Seminars by top players have become very popular at leading US events and it is good to see that feature now being included in BIBA tournaments. I would recommend to anyone who really wants to improve their play and understanding of the game to start the New Year with a visit to Brighton. Paul Magriel will provide excellent value for money and his seminars, in conjunction with what promises to be an exciting tournament, will be just the way to recover from those New Year hangovers! I will certainly be there.

Full details of BIBA and the tournaments from: Michael Crane, BIBA, 2, Redbourne Drive, Lincoln, LN2 2HG. Tel: 01522-546993.