The Alligators of the Cayman Islands

by Luc Palmans

It’s not my habit to (ab)use this website for communicating personal messages, but the recent events in the Caribbean reminded me at a personal hurricane I experienced when I was active in that part of the world, a very long time ago.

A business partner from Panama (a country only famous for its canal and baseball players) informed me about an interesting job offer at the Cayman Islands. Because economic prospects in Europe were those days not high, I tried my luck. Tests and interviews went very well, and to make a long story short: I got the job. There only remained the discussion about my moderate fee. A meeting with the CEO of the firm was arranged.

At the parking of the impressive office building, the security didn’t show much interest in my Lamborghini, and finally there was an apprentice who was willing to park my car somewhere in a faraway corner, behind the Rolls Royces and the Bentleys.

At 13:56 sharp I presented myself at the desk. A six-foot high beautiful blond secretary directed me to the office of the CEO at the end of a long corridor. The renaissance paintings and 18th century classical sculptures gave me the feeling that I was in the Uffizi in Florence. But I must also confess that my eyes were mostly blurred by the bumping derrière of the secretary. And the sound of the 16 centimetre high steel point heels, who mercilessly tortured the marble floor, ricocheted several days in my ears.

I was received by the CEO in a luxurious conference room with another marble floor and more pictures, sculptures and antique furniture. I took place at a long table; at the opposite site there were sitting three people. In the middle there was Xavier, the CEO, who did most of the talking. A woman and a man were sitting next to him and they only agreed with what Xavier was saying. The name of the man was “De Herdt” or something. I don’t remember the name of the woman, but she reminded me at the actress who played Snow White in a movie I saw in my childhood. A butler served us drinks and remained in the room.

After some introductory small talk, and a discussion about the results of my tests came finally the big moment: the money. How little would I earn if I joined the firm?

Before I continue I will explain something about the payments and taxes on the Cayman Island, for the few readers who are not familiar with this. There are three sort of payments: a normal fee, an extra fee and a super extra fee. Of course, on the Cayman Island we gladly like to pay our taxes. After all, someone has to pay the roads to our gated communities, don’t they? Not surprisingly, there are also three sort of taxes: a normal, an extra and a super extra.

Xavier gave me the choice between two propositions. Without going into details, the difference in these propositions concerned mostly the timing of payment.

In the first proposition (let’s call it “pay me later”) I would earn 8540 $ per hour; plus an extra 85 $ and even a super extra 1 $. I had to pay 1460 $ taxes, plus 6 $ extra taxes. Luckily, in this proposition I didn’t have to pay any super extra taxes.

I would earn more in the second proposition (“pay me now”): 8683 $ per hour; plus 346 $ extra and 8 $ super extra. And I had to pay less taxes: 1317 $, although a little bit more extra taxes (39 $) and even 1 $ super taxes.

I don’t claim that I can write and read, but I can count figures. Especially when there are $- or €-signs behind these figures, not to mention Swiss Francs. I had no doubts. “Pay me now” was the best for me: Highest fee and lowest taxes. That’s my idea of a contract.

“I take the second proposition,” I firmly stated, with an air of “I am a man of the world and you can’t fool me”.

Xavier observed me a long time with a poker face, and then slowly asked: “Are you sure?”

I didn’t have to look again at the figures. I was never so sure in my life.

“I take the second proposition,” I repeated, and I made a personal note that in a next life I should be an actor in mafia-movies.

“O.K. Agreed,” said Xavier.

Suddenly, I heard the butler behind me scream “Yeees!”. Xavier, Snow White and De Herdt jumped out of their seats, jelled some sounds and started to make high-fives. Immediately, Xavier took the contract and put it under my nose, and pushed a Mont Blanc fountain pen in my hands.

I must confess that I was a little bit surprised by their reaction, but before I realized what was happening, I had put my signature under the contract, and immediately a security guard grabbed the documents out of my hands and would undoubtedly hide them in a safe, deep down in the cellars of the building.

The celebrating Xavier and his associates didn’t notice me anymore and another security guard guided me politely but firmly out of the room. I left the building via a backdoor, where the Latino cleaning ladies held their smoke break.

The apprentice at the parking threw the keys to me, and while I was searching my car, I was still wandering what had happened. I was 100% sure about my decision, and I really couldn’t understand the reaction of Xavier and his co-workers.

I was still flabbergasted when I drove back in my Lamborghini to my trophy wife in our penthouse on the beach (“Her penthouse after the divorce,” one of her lawyers informed me at my wedding party). By the way, she was furious when I told her what had happened.

Meanwhile the webmaster of will go berserk and because this is a backgammon website I will, for good measures, include a backgammon position, completely unrelated with the story above.

Blackk to play 63

I was witnessing the match. Black was leading 2-away/4-away with the cube still in the middle. He played the safe 8/2 6/3. After the match I told him that in this sort of positions you have to push the defender away. 7/1* 4/1 is the move. Every backgammon hustler knows this.

Admittedly … there is a little risk involved with 4 immediate hits from the bar (52 and 53), and 55 would be the start of a close race. But after 8/2 6/3 the position of Black is by no means safe. And in fact a few moves later (after he correctly doubled and his opponent erred with a take) Black had to leave a blot, was hit and lost the game and match. But that’s of course immaterial for the decision he has to make in the diagram position.

As I expected, the bots confirmed my explanation with cool and undisputable figures.


1. Rollout1 8/2 6/3 eq: +0,984
85,40% (G:0,85% B:0,01%)
14,60% (G:0,06% B:0,00%)
Conf.: ± 0,002 (+0,982…+0,986) – [100,0%]
Duration: 1,5 seconds
2. Rollout1 7/1* 4/1 eq: +0,857 (-0,127)
86,83% (G:3,46% B:0,08%)
13,17% (G:0,39% B:0,01%)
Conf.: ± 0,003 (+0,854…+0,859) – [0,0%]
Duration: 17,3 seconds
3. 2-ply 8/2 4/1* eq: +0,685 (-0,299)
75,93% (G:3,02% B:0,07%)
24,07% (G:0,72% B:0,02%)
4. 1-ply 7/4 7/1* eq: +0,580 (-0,404)
71,37% (G:2,35% B:0,04%)
28,63% (G:2,40% B:0,01%)
5. 1-ply 8/2 7/4 eq: +0,448 (-0,537)
66,54% (G:1,11% B:0,01%)
33,46% (G:1,20% B:0,00%)
1 1296 Games rolled with Variance Reduction.
Moves: 3-ply, cube decisions: XG Roller Version: 2.10, MET: Kazaross XG2

Or not?

Comments welcome below!

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BMS : Michel breaks 4,75 PR barrier and attains Master (Class 1) status.

Michel Lamote, Belgium’s first player to reach BMS Master (Class 1) status

For the first time since its inception in 2015, the BMS Grading Table  sees a player with 500 experience points (= the equivalent of, say, thirty 13-point matches and ten 11-point matches) dip below 4,75 PR.

This feat was accomplished by Michel Lamote, whose PR’s in his two most recent MS1 matches (3,18 PR (match to 13) and 2,47 PR (match to 11) got him over the line.

With this accomplishment, Michel becomes the first Belgian player to get a taste of Master (Class 1) status.

Congratulations, Michel!

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BMS : Huyck and Van der Stricht fail to improve in Master Series (6*17).

In an effort to make progress on the BMS Grading Table, Johan Huyck and Geert Van der Stricht played, recorded and transcribed six 17-point matches.  These matches were played on Tuesday afternoons at the Sandeman Club in Gent.

Here is how they did :

PR Geert (loses MS1 0037 by 1-5)

This is a bit of set-back for Geert, who seems to be moving away from the 5 PR threshold, instead of towards it. As a Backgammon Master (Class 2), Geert is expected to score PR’s between 5,50 and 4,75, so in this series of long matches, Geert played slightly below his acknowledged skill level. His current PR over the last 500 Experience Points (EP) is 5,45, eerily close to the cursed 5,50 PR boundary.

Moreover, Geert’s number 3 status may be in jeopardy as Walter Meuwis (4) is only 0,13 PR behind (5,58) and Johan Huyck (5) is also edging closer (5,87). Johan seems to have missed an opportunity to catch up as he could not find a below-6 PR in this MS :

PR Johan (wins MS1 0037 by 5-1)

Find the current standings of Belgium’s Best and all their match PR’s by clicking on BMS(BE)/Backgammon Master Series in the black banner above.

The upcoming quarter finals of the Belgian Individual Championship (BIC) provide another opportunity for our top players to display their skills. Here is the draw :

Walter Meuwis (4) versus Metin Ates (unranked)

Johan Segers  (7) v Geert Van der Stricht (3)

Paulus Van Rooijen (8) v Guy Van Middelem (12)/Maurits Pino (14)

Michel Lamote (1) v Johan Huyck (5)

All matches are best of three 13-point matches.



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Online calendar of backgammon events in Belgium

Looking for some live backgammon in Belgium? Have a look at our calendar. See also the new item in the menu above.

Want to add your event to the calendar? It’s simple: just send us an email. Please see the instructions right below the calendar.

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Metin Ates is the 1st Belgian Champion 1-point Matches

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BMS : Marc and Paul finish 40th Master Series (6*13).

At the top of Belgian backgammon persistent efforts are being made to reach higher degrees of proficiency. Study, play, and analysis are key ingredients in that endeavour. To measure improvement, there is nothing like a challenging Master Series :  a pre-designated series of longer matches, played live, recorded, transcribed, and mercilessly analysed and evaluated by the world’s absolute best player, the masterfully engineered robot : eXtremeGammon.

Marc Van Damme, currently ranked 2 on the BMS Grading Table, and Paul Van Dijke (6) wrapped up the 40th Master Series. Their MS consisted of six 13-point matches, played at the Sandeman Club in Gent over the course of a month.

Here is how they did :

PR Marc (wins 4-2)

PR Paul (loses 2-4)

As usual, the difference in acquired skill, no matter how small, is reflected in the respective PR’s. Seldom, if ever, will a lesser player come out of a 6*13 MS with a better overall PR than his opponnent.

Marc will be slightly disappointed not to have dipped below the 5 PR threshold, but his performance is still comfortably within his Master Class 2 range. Paul, for his part, confirmed his Master Class 3 status, but would have loved to see a 5 behind his name. In short, pretty routine stuff by two Masters of the game.


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BMS : Geert and Marc display fine form in 39th Master Series.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, Geert Van der Stricht and Marc Van Damme played, recorded and transcribed six 13-point matches. Here is how they did in MS 0039, which ended in a draw (3-3) :

PR Geert (6 x 13)

With this excellent performance Geert narrowly misses a Grandmaster (Class 3) result and emphatically solidifies his top-3 status.

PR Marc (6 x 13)

Confident below-5 performance by Marc, who remains only a hair’s breadth away from the number 1 spot on the BMS Grading Table.

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8th Backgammon BBQ and 1st Belgian Championship 1-Point Matches – Sunday, August 20, Korbeek-Lo

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BMS : Christian Sörensen wins PR contest at 2nd BMS Belgium tournament (22-23 July).

With an average PR of 4,26 over six 13-point matches, Christian Sörensen  took first prize at the recent BMS tournament held in Bruges. He beat Grandmaster and World’s number three Michihito Kageyama by 0,1 PR point : 4,36.

Congratulations, Christian!

Christian (l) in deep thought against Michy (r)

Best performance by a Belgian player came from Marc Van Damme, who posted a strong  4,64 PR.  This result brings Marc back to the number one spot on the BMS GT.

Belgium’s number 1 Marc (l) playing Kazuko (r)

Five more players managed to stay below the 6 PR threshold : Geert Van der Stricht (5,39), Johan Huyck (5,53), Michel Lamote (5,63), Tatsuya Tanaka (5,67) and Walter Meuwis (5,96). Special mention should go to Johan Huyck, who out-cubed everyone with a powerful cube PR of 5,40 (!). In that domain he beat Michihito Kageyama by 0,03 mps (5,43). Well cubed, Johan!


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BMS : Paulus Van Rooijen wins 2nd BMS Belgium tournament! (22-23 July)

With an astonishing streak of 6 consecutive wins Paulus Van Rooijen (Nl) won the 2nd BMS Belgium tournament. With 5 wins out of 6, Michihito ‘Michy’ Kageyama (Japan) took second place.

Paulus (l) pondering a decision. In the background we recognise Tatsuya Tanaka.

World’s number 3 : Michy.

12 players played six 13-point matches over two days in the ‘Hollandse Vismijn’ in Brugge. All matches were recorded and the players’ PR’s will be tabulated in the BMS Grading Table. The results will also count for the BMAB World Ranking.

The tournament was organised by BMS Belgium’s chairman Geert Van der Stricht (with a little help from his friends). Below are some pictures, which were taken by professional photographer Frank Viergever :

(from left to right) : Kazuko Numazawa, Marc Steyvers and Michy.

Tense moments from the Michy – Marc Van Damme encounter.

Marc Steyvers (l) playing Geert (r)

Walter Meuwis

Kazuko Numazawa, wondering what Marc Van Damme is up to…

Christian Sörensen (l) and Johan Huyck (r)

Geert Van der Stricht (l)  and  Kazuko Numazawa (r)

Hisako Nishizawa

These are the players who won at least 4 out of 6 matches :

  1. Paulus Van Rooijen  6/6
  2. Michy                          5/6
  3. Walter Meuwis          4/6
  4. Marc Van Damme    4/6

BMS Belgium would like to thank all players for their sportsmanship and gentlemanlike conduct.

The next BMS event will be the 2nd Xmas Trophy, which will be held during the Christmas holidays.

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