Author Archives: Gary

Minutes of AGM 2019

Present: Martin Barkwill, Don Irving, Graeme Turner, John Horton, Alan Hind, Jonathan Backhouse, John Oxley, Lawrence Jones, Julian Jones, Mike Snowdon & Tassio Serra.

Minutes of 2018 were read by MB who added that since this meeting we had lost two of our members, Paul Gilbertson & Antony Crerar & we had fielded two teams in the UK Clubs Championship with the 1st team suffering the indignity of being eliminated by the club’s 2nd team. We have recommenced twice monthly meetings, the second run by Keith.

Election of Officers

Chairman: Martin Barkwill was proposed by Mike Snowdon & seconded by Don
Secretary: Gary Bratton proposed by MB & 2nd by John Oxley
Treasurer: Pol by Don & Graeme
Publicity: Mike informed MB prior to AGM he wished to stand down. Don proposed by MB & 2nd by Mike
Auditor: Graeme by MB & Alan Hind

All unopposed & elected unanimously.

Matters arising

NEBA is hosting the next Clubs Championship in York this August with Keith acting as TD. MB asked those present if they would be available for selection. We have been challenged to a friendly match against Glasgow probably in the summer before the Clubs Championship. Several of those present expressed an interest in this & hoped to be involved.

Alan Hind had submitted a request in writing prior to the meeting for the club to adopt a code of etiquette & had downloaded Phil Simborg’s guide from the internet. He felt the club should promote good practice & make it clear what is or isn’t acceptable. It was also mentioned that a video exists of Jon Barnes explaining the correct method of rolling the dice. The meeting was in agreement with this & MB said he would seek Phil’s Simborg’s & Jon Barnes’s permission to place their contributions on the club website.

Jonathan Backhouse, a visitor from Stockton mentioned that a new club had formed in Stockton on Tees & if NEBA club members were to visit this club they would be very welcome. Another new club has formed in Saltburn. MB said we should definitely support new & fledgling clubs in the region & would make a point of visiting in the near future. A few others said they would also try to do so. Keith, who was not at the meeting, has already visited both clubs & found them keen although some way short of our playing standard. Jonathan asked a question about the appropriateness of playing for money. MB said we only play for nominal stakes @ NEBA however it depends on the venue host as to whether they feel comfortable with this.

Mike Snowdon mentioned that he & Jamie had recently played at the Victory pub in Gosforth & experienced a high level of interest from other customers. They typically meet on Sunday afternoon & would try to get some of them along to the club.

Graeme advocated the purchase of more clocks & it was agreed that some expenditure is justified.

Post AGM: Phil & Jon have both agreed to their etiquette guide & video may be used on the club website. We have been challenged to a friendly match by the Lake District club. MB in discussion with Paul Galley on this.

Legal Rolling in Backgammon

Leading UK player Jon Barnes talks about how to make sure all your rolls are legal, specifically discussing section 4.1 of the UKBGF Rules…

In matches played without a baffle box a valid roll consists of the dice being shaken vigorously in a cup and then rolled out of the cup onto the playing surface of the board. During this process the dice should not touch the player’s hand and the cup should not touch the board. The dice must roll freely and come to rest lying flat on the playing surface of the board to the roller’s right of the bar. If this is not the case, the roll is deemed invalid and must be retaken.

Sportsmanlike Conduct in Backgammon

by Phil Simborg, 1999
Taken with permission from Backgammon Galore!

I don’t know if anyone has yet written a definite code of ethics, or code of conduct for backgammon play, but it is sorely needed. And it’s needed not just because there are some jerks with very poor ethics and courtesy playing the game, but because many of us just don’t realize how certain things can be perceived as unkind, or rude.

So, for what it’s worth, here are things that bother me that I would like to suggest should be the do’s and don’ts of backgammon play. Most of these apply to both live matches and electronic (internet) play. Chouette play has even a more complex set of standards.


  1. Always greet your opponent in some friendly manner. You can just say hi, shake hands, wish them luck, wish them a good match, tell them where you are from, or whatever … but don’t just sit down and start rolling the dice.
  2. When a match is over, always say goodbye. Or thanks for playing, or whatever you are comfortable with. You don’t have to say “good match” if you don’t believe it was, but if you are the loser, congratulations and best wishes in the rest of the tournament or on line is a reasonable goodbye.
  3. When you double, place the cube gently in the center, and say double. If you take, put it on your side and say “take”. If you drop, be sure to put the cube in it’s proper place and say “drop” or “pass” clearly.
  4. Both parties should keep score, and you should announce the score or acknowledge your opponent’s announcement of the score, after each game. If it is a Crawford game, announce that at the start and take the cube off the board.
  5. Always shake your dice at least three times and roll them out. Do not shake while your opponent is playing or thinking about a play.
  6. Be quiet and still while your opponent is thinking or playing.


  1. Do not point out your opponent’s luck, or lucky rolls, either during or after a match. Whether you mean to or not, pointing out your opponent’s luck suggests that he is winning or has won due to that luck and not due to his skill. Even if he was unbelievably lucky, it’s poor form and bad sportsmanship. And most players fail to see their own good luck as well as the many bad rolls the opponent probably got too.

    Most players also forget that the better you play, the luckier you seem to be, because you are set up for more good rolls and protected against more of the bad rolls. When a player tells me how lucky I am just after I’ve beaten him, I say “Yes, I was lucky to play someone who played so much worse than me.”

  2. Do not call your opponent’s bad rolls, or your own good ones. It’s irritating and capricious.
  3. Do not handle the doubling cube unless you mean to double. In fact, this could even be, consciously or unconsciously, a form of cheating … you reach for the cube and see if the opponent reaches for the score sheet or reached to take the cube … or simply check out his reaction.
  4. Do not roll until your opponent has clearly picked up his dice. Rolling too soon, or just as he’s picking up his dice, can only create conflict as to whether or not the roll counted, or whether or not the player had truly finished thinking about his play. And quick rolling unfairly rushes the opponent into playing.
  5. Do not laugh, chortle, or giggle when your opponent gets a really bad roll, and do not rejoice when you get a really good one. (Paul Franks and Dougie Roberts can often be heard exclaiming a resounding “yes” just about every time they come off the bar with doubles and hit their opponent.) It’s irritating and not nice.
  6. Don’t play like a turtle. It’s fine to sit and think about a really tough play or cube decision. Even the top experts need time to consider all the variables. But if you have a simple choice between two plays early in the game, taking more than a few seconds to make the choice is really inconsiderate. We all agree that longer matches are fairer (the better player is more likely to win), but we are often discouraged from having longer matches because some people just take too long. It ruins the fun, as well as the fairness of the game.

    If I had an hour to look at every move, I am sure I would make less mistakes. But it would be a horrible game to play or watch. (When playing on the internet, it is particularly unsportsmanlike to take a long time, as that time could be used to run the position through a computer program such as Snowie or Jellyfish. Even if that’s not done, it’s not fair to make your opponent have to worry about that. If you must take a break, choose a time when you are unlikely to be thinking of doubling, then take a break before rolling the dice, not after.)

  7. Do not engage in conversations with kibbitzers or people at the next table. Don’t talk on your cellphone, listen to headphones, or anything else but give your full, polite attention to the match.
  8. If you wish to stop and copy a board position for later analysis, ask your opponent if they mind first. Do it quickly and don’t do it too often.
  9. Do not say “nice roll” or “good game” after every good roll and after every game. Complimenting your opponent’s rolls is just another way of telling him he’s lucky. If you want to compliment him on a play, or cube decision, or well-played game, on exceptional occasions, or after the match is over, that’s fine.

M & M in Toon!

The two top players in the world, Mochy & Michy from Japan, visited our club after playing in a tournament in Bradford in 2018. Mochy faced a challenge from one of our members, John Horton. John sensationally beat Mochy 7-3.

Later Mochy & Michy gave a lecture at our club & took on all comers, Mochy playing two players simultaneously!

League Champions

The 2018 season has crowned two new NEBA League Champions.

Congratulations to John Horton, who picked up the Division Two Trophy and earns a promotion to Division One after securing 5 wins out of his 6 matches played.

John receives his Divion Two Trophy from Club Chairman Martin Barkwill

Division One was won by Grandmaster Tim Cross, who pipped Martin Barkwill to the title. They both finished with 5 wins out of 6 and Tim came out on top in the play-off.

Martin presents Tim with his Dision One Trophy


The final of the latest Bradford Monthly tournament, organised by Steve Lee and held at Napoleon’s Casino, was contested by two NEBA players, Martin Barkwill & Tim Cross.

Martin came out on top on this occasion, avenging the 2018 NEBA League One play-off defeat to Tim earlier this year.

Here he is claiming his victory handshake from Steve Lee…

Coming just one week before both Tim and Martin will represent NEBA in the UK Clubs Championship in York, it can only bode well for the club that these two great players are in such fine form.

In Memory of Antony Crerar

This year has been a sad year for the club, following the untimely death of another NEBA member in their fifties.
Antony Crerar was instrumental – along with his good friend Chris Humble, and others – in setting up the club in 2015, and attended early meetings in The County, Gosforth.
Sadly, his illness prevented him from retaining his involvement, so he will not be known to many current members.
He fought a long and brave fight against his severe brain tumour, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Pam, children Jordan and George, and extended family.

RIP Paul Gilbertson

It is with the deepest sadness in our hearts that we have to say goodbye to our very dear friend and NEBA member Paul Gilbertson, who was taken from us far, far too soon.

Nothing can be said about Paul that hasn’t already been said since his passing.
The outpouring of tributes from the backgammon community shows us all just how loved he was.
He was a man that had absolutely no idea at all of how popular he was, and as tragic as fact is, now that he has passed, it may well be the biggest reason (among many, many reasons) that he was just so very special.

NEBA will honour Paul with a minute of silence and some tributes at 7.25pm on Monday 4th June at our monthly meeting and Paul’s funeral will be held on Wednesday 13th June 2018 at Durham Crematorium, South Road, DH1 3TQ beginning at 11am and all are welcome.
No flowers, please. Instead donations to the MIND mental health charity would be appreciated.

Paul’s family are hosting is a tournament at 1pm on Tuesday 12th June at the Honest Lawyer Hotel, Croxdale Bridge, Croxdale, Durham, DH1 3SP & several players from around the UK are expected.

Rest in Peace Paul, you’ll never be forgotten.

Two “Greats” from the World of Backgammon visit Newcastle

Two of the leading backgammon players in the world will visit Newcastle next month.

Masayuki Mochizuki – aka Mochy – and Phil Simborg are to visit the North East Backgammon Association on Monday 26th March.

Mochy is the current world No.1 ranked player and a former world champion, while Phil is one of the leading lecturers and tutors of the game in the world.

 They will give an hour-long presentation about strategy and tactics of backgammon.

If time permits, Mochy will be available to play a 3-point game for £50.  He is willing to play two matches simultaneously and for players to buddy up in consultation doubles or trebles against him.  A trebles team would therefore only have to play £17 each.

 Mochy and Phil are guests of the North East Backgammon Association (NEBA).
Club chairman Martin Barkwill said:
“It’s a great honour to have two of the most famous backgammon players in the world come to Newcastle to give a lecture and be available to play matches.
“The event is not just open to members of NEBA.  Anyone is welcome to come along and take part.”
 There is a £15 charge for attending the event.
The event will be held from 7pm at the Royal British Legion Club next to West Jesmond Metro Station (NE2 3EX).  There is free parking at the club.
If you are interested in attending, please email Martin at:

Second Half Round-Up

Having not posted in 6 months (in my defence, I got a new job and moved to a new area), I am going to have to summarise the second half of 2017 in one fell swoop!

So here goes…


Gary Bratton beat Martin Barkwill to win the NEBA 2nd Anniversary tournament at the Legion and the NEBA team, comprising captain Martin Barkwill, Pol Lapidakis, John Horton, Ian Baker and Gary Bratton, finished runner-up in the UK Club Championships.


Mike Snowdon beat John Horton to take the win in the September Monthly.


Gary Bratton won the October Monthly, beating our newest member, Steve McGarvie, in the final.

Scot Alastair Woods lifted the Newcastle Open 2017 Trophy, with NEBA member Graeme Turner finishing as Runner Up.
The event was a great success and was superbly run by Tournament Director Keith Gill


Tassio Serra defeated John Horton to take the November Monthly crown.


It was Alex Schofield who took the December Monthly, with a final win over Keith Gill.