BMS : official BMAB grading results.

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EBTC Denmark 2016 : final selection.

The European Backgammon Team Championship will take place in Helsingor (Denmark) in October this year. As announced, selection for the team is solely based on playing strength as indicated by the assembled data in the 2 BMS tables : the BMS Grading Table (predominantly longer matches) and the BPR Ranking Table (mostly shorter matches).

After 8 months of play (hundreds of matches) the BMS BE data have yielded the following ranking :

BMS BPR combined

Therefore, the selection for Helsingor is as follows : 1. Michel Lamote 2. Geert Van der Stricht 3. Walter Meuwis 4. Johan Segers 5. Johan Huyck 6. Guy Van Middelem 7. Alain Chif. Substitute  : Maurits Pino. is happy to send this robust team to Denmark. Of course, with no player who plays solidly below 5, we cannot count ourselves among the favourites. However, the team’s skill level and international experience is high enough to warrant some hope for at least an outside chance of success.

As Team Captain I hope that in the coming months  all selected players will conscientiously prepare for this event. Any improvement in whatever aspect of the game can make a difference when crunch time comes.



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BMS Brugge : Zdenek and Michel divide PR prize.

Wonder kid Zdenek Zizka

Wonder kid Zdenek Zizka

As was to be expected, Zdenek Zizka, the timid 17-year-old grandmaster from the Czech Republic, took first prize in the PR contest at Belgium’s 1st BMS event (6 x 13) :

BMS Brugge PR Zdenek

BMS Brugge PR Zdenek

I was able to dip below 5 and thus post the 2nd best PR :

BMS Brugge PR Michel

BMS Brugge PR Michel

The other performance results :

3. Honza Cerny (CZ) : 5,36

4. Johan Huyck (B) : 5,72

5. Geert Van der Stricht (B) : 5,89

6. Pavel Zaoral (CZ) : 6,20

7. Walter Meuwis (B) : 6,33

8. Paulus Van Rooijen (NL) : 6,82

9. Maurits Pino (NL) : 8,00

10. Guy Van Middelem (B) : 9,02

The  question now is : how much improvement can our best players make in the coming 12 months? Belgian backgammon would make a big leap forward if 3 to 4 players could post PRs below 5 next year.

BMS BE hopes that at least a number of players will find the time and motivation to strive towards that goal. It will take study and dedicated practice. We wish everyone good luck in that noble endeavour.

M (for : BMS BE)

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BMS : Johan Huyck remains undefeated at 1st BMS tournament.

With an amazing streak of 6 consecutive wins, Johan Huyck (Gent BC) became the convincing winner of the 1st BMS Belgium tournament.  After having beaten Paulus Van Rooijen (NL), Guy Van Middelem, Honza Cerny (CZ) and Walter Meuwis in the first 4 rounds, Johan won a crucial duel against the young Czech grandmaster Zdenek Zizka to take 5/5. In the 6th and final round, Johan was able to keep Maurits Pino (NL) from a shared first prize by scoring his 6th victory.

Johan (l) with BMS trophy.

Johan (r) with BMS trophy and BMS organizer Michel (l)

Four players shared 2nd place with 4 wins : Geert Van der Stricht (Gent BC), Maurits Pino (Brussels BC), Paulus Van Rooijen (Brugge BC) and Pavel Zaoral (CZ).

Top favourite Zdenek Zizka (CZ) was knocked out of contention in the 4th round by Guy Van Middelem (Brugge BC)  and had to content himself with a meagre 2/6. Same for Michel Lamote (Brugge BC – 2/6). Both players can hope for some consolation in the form of respectable PRs. All 10 players are currently transcribing the 30 matches (13 points) and eagerly (anxiously?) awaiting the performance evaluations.

BMS Belgium would like to congratulate all participants on their gentlemanly conduct and good-humoured competitiveness and especially the Czech delegation for travelling 1000 km to come from Prague to Brugge and being great sports.  Robin Bilderbeek handcrafted the trophy.



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BMS : Johan Huyck and Michel finish another Master Series (6 x 13).

Thresholds, even symbolical ones, are sometimes hard to cross. Johan, studying hard recently, came up with this result :

PR Johan (draws 3-3)

PR Johan (draws 3-3)

As a consequence, he keeps hovering slightly above Master level with an overall PR of 6,54.  Johan will have to lift his game a notch this coming weekend (BMS Brugge, 6 x 13) if he wants to make the transition from Expert to Master level.

As for me, a couple of months ago I was tiptoeing hopefully around the 5 PR mark, but improving by 0,2 PR is not as straightforward as it seems :

PR Michel (draws 3-3)

PR Michel (draws 3-3)

With this result, I managed to shave 0,08 off my overall BMS PR, which now stands at 5,16.  The 5 PR line is surely within grasp,  but the Master Class I boundary (4,75) feels like a distant mirage.  The illusive Grandmaster Class III level (< 4 PR) is, as yet,  too preposterous to even contemplate…

This weekend (23-24 July)  7 of our best players (Walter Meuwis, Geert Van der Stricht, Johan Huyck, Guy Van Middelem, Paul Van Dijke, Paulus Van Rooijen and Maurits Pino) will test their skills at the 1st BMS BE event (Hollandse Vismijn, Vismarkt, Brugge). What can they do against 2 Czech players of Master level (Honza Czerny and Pavel Zaoral) and the phenomenal 17-year-old Zdenek Zizka (Grandmaster Class III)?

My answer? The only thing they can do is play to the best of their abilities and then let the chips fall where they may. Win or lose, any player who can perform 1 PR better than his current BMS grading will have reason for contented satisfaction, maybe even high-spirited elation…

Good luck to all players!



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Czech grandmaster Zdenek Zizka (17) plays at BMAB event in Brugge.

Zdenek with BMAM award letter

Zdenek Zizka with BMAB award letter

A couple of months ago (March ’16) the BMAB event in Vienna, Austria, was won by Zdenek Zizka  from the Czech Republic with an overall PR of 3,52.  He has since then been awarded the official BMAB (Backgammon Masters Awarding Body) grading of Grandmaster (Class III) with a PR of 3,84. In an effort to improve on his rating, he will play in Brugge on 23-24 July 2016. He will be accompanied by his mentor Honza Czerny and by Pavel Zaoral, two Czech players of Master level.

The American backgammon pro Phil Simborg did an interview with this talented youngster for the on-line magazine GammonVillage. We are allowed to publish some excerpts :

(Chiva Tafazzoli, President of the World Backgammon Association, on “the Czech group”) : The members of the Czech group are all extremely nice people. They have been regulars at the monthly tournaments in München. On Saturdays, they drive 4 hours from Prague to be on time (never late) and after the tournament, around 10pm, they drive back to Prague, another 4 hours. That’s dedication!

Zdenek (about himself) : I started to play backgammon when I was 5.  My dad was working in a restaurant where they had a backgammon machine and he showed me and my mom how to play. During our vacations in July and August we would play tens and tens of games on a small wooden board. That was our favourite family game and the experience was invaluable in helping me understand checker play strategy without the cube. As you know, even with the cube, knowing how to play at DMP is quite important.

Zdenek (on studying backgammon) : The only book I ever read was Boot Camp by Walter Trice, but I think it really did not help me so much. I teach myself by importing my matches into XG and studying my mistakes. I have had eXtreme Gammon since 2013 and it is a great learning tool. I think most of the top players in the world would not be near as good without this wonderful machine.

Zdenek (on backgammon heroes) : I have a lot of respect for players who can play at the highest levels and still control their emotions when losing. I do not like loud people and people who complain all the time. It is unpleasant and ruins the game and the atmosphere. If you can’t handle bad luck, then backgammon is not the game you should be playing.

Zdenek (on  his aspirations) : I am concentrating on mathematics in school. I am not exactly sure what I want to do, but it will have something to do with money, statistics and probability. Backgammon is not my life, but my life is like backgammon – full of luck, decisions, studying probability and statistics. If there is a way I can make a career teaching and playing backgammon some day, that would be great.

So, this young prodigy will play against some of Belgium’s Best on 23-24 July. You can still register for the event (before Sunday 17 July, midnight) if you play at Advanced level or better.

Michel, Zdenek and Honza Czerny in Prague (August 2015)

Michel, Zdenek and Honza Czerny in Prague (August 2015)



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BMS : Walter and Ronny solidify BMS rating.

In the course of the past couple of months, Walter Meuwis and Ronny Conaert found time to play six 15-point matches. Walter recorded and transcribed. They each won 3 and lost 3. Astonishingly enough, like Johan Huyck and myself in our last Master Series, both players performed within 0,1 of their official BMS rating :

Walter's PR (6 x 15)

Walter’s PR (6 x 15)

Ronny's PR (6 x 15)

Ronny’s PR (6 x 15)

In the meantime, Walter also completed his BIC Series. He played his 7 BIC encounters well within schedule and came up with a fine performance :

Walter in the zone in Velden, Austria.

Walter in the zone in Velden, Austria.

BIC : Walter's PR (14 x 13)

BIC : Walter’s PR (14 x 13)

Will anyone do better?


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BMS : Johan Huyck and Michel Lamote at par in Midsummer Series (8 x 13)

In he course of 3 weeks, Johan and me played a Midsummer Series. We both hoped to improve on our current BMS rating. Unfortunately, good intentions are not good enough in backgammon. Johan saw some excellent PRs dwindle as a result of time pressure, whereas I failed to dip below 5 because of some lackluster cube actions.

Here is how we did :

PR Johan (8 x 13)

PR Johan (loses 3-5)

PR Michel (8 x 13)

PR Michel (wins 5-3)

Coincidently (or not?) these PRs are within 0,1 of our skill level as reflected in the BMS table.  This indicates that a series of matches of that length will more than likely give a reliable idea of  playing strength.

Johan and me will now start another Midsummer Series (6 x 13), which we will finish before the BMS event in Brugge. This tournament (6 x 13) will be the last chance for our top players to improve on their BMS ranking and thus strengthen their candidacy for Belgium’s Best, the team that will compete at the European Backgammon Team Championship in Helsingor, Denmark (20-23 October).

Here are the 12 players that have entered the BMS event of 23-24 July (between brackets : current BMS ranking) : Michel Lamote (1),  Walter Meuwis (3), Geert Van der Stricht (4), Paul Van Dijke (5), Johan Huyck (6), Bert Van Kerckhove (8), Guy Van Middelem (10),  Maurits Pino (12),  Paulus Van Rooijen (NL), Zdenek Czizka (Czech Republic, Grandmaster), Honza Czerny (Czech Republic, Master 2), Pavel Zaoral (Czech Republic).

If you play at Advanced level or better, you can still register for the tournament. There are 2 slots available. Entries close Sunday 17 July, midnight.


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EBTC 2016 : 8 candidate players

The 8 candidate players for the European Backgammon Team Championship in Helsingor later this year (20-23 October) are (alphabetically by first name) : Alain Chif, Geert Van der Stricht, Guy Van Middelem, Johan Huyck, Johan Segers, Maurits Pino, Michel Lamote and Walter Meuwis.

In the week following the BMS (BE) tournament (Brugge, 23-24 July), the final selection will be made according to the criteria described in the article Kopenhagen (sic.) 2016 : plans to send strong team (see : Tags/European Team Championship)  and  published on this website no later than Sunday 31 July, 12 noon.

Thank you to all candidate players for their willingness to represent Belgium at this prestigious event.



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BMS : Rolling EP activated on 1 August 2016.

The BMS(BE) Committee hereby announces the introduction of a Rolling EP in both the BMS Grading Table and the BPR Ranking Table.

We asked committee member Walter Meuwis for some clarification :

Walter explains Rolling EP.

Walter explains Rolling EP.

M : Walter, what exactly is Rolling EP ?

W : Simple : Rolling EP is an experience threshold, which will be used in the BMS and BPR tables. It will be implemented on 1 August 2016.

M : Why?

W : The effect of a Rolling EP is that players’ PRs will be represented more accurately. Without it, an Intermediate player who has progressed to Advanced level would for ever carry his intermediate PRs with him. Rolling EP allows him to shed these inferior PRs if he can solidify his progress.

M : What will the threshold be?

W : The threshold will be set at 500 EP for the BMS GT and at 300 EP for the BPR RT. The reason this threshold is different for both tables is that the BPR table consists mainly of shorter matches, 3-pointers to 7-pointers. A threshold of 300 represents around 45 matches. The BMS table contains predominantly longer matches, 9- to 15-pointers. A low threshold here would represent only around 25 matches, which in our opinion is too small a database for representing an accurate PR. Therefore, by setting the threshold for BMS at 500, the database will always represent about 45 matches.

M : How will that Rolling EP work?

W : Well, once a player’s experience (EP) exceeds the threshold, his (or her) oldest results will be removed. For  BPR this will always be by removing the oldest cluster. For example, if the oldest result is a cluster of 20 EP, then a total of at least 320 EP must be reached before the cluster is removed. For BMS it is a bit more complicated : in the case of a MS1 series, results will be removed match by match. In the case of a MS2 series, results will be removed by batch.

M : What with the BIC matches?

W : Since a BIC encounter always consists of two matches, both matches will be considered as a batch.

M : Will the removed results still be visible on the BMS and BPR tabels?

W : No. As the results are no longer part of the PR calculation, they will also be removed from the BMS and BPR table sheets. This is done to avoid endlessly long sheets with players’ results. However, all matches remain stored in the BMS(BE) archive.

M : So the biggest plus seems to be that by amassing experience (EP) players can leave bad PRs behind.

W : Indeed. Of course, for players who have already reached Master level, the influence will be small since it becomes progressively more difficult to improve. For Intermediate and Advanced players the effect will be clearer. They have more room for improvement and thanks to Rolling EP their current skill level will be more accurately represented. A good example is Robin Bilderbeek : when he appeared in the tables, he frequently played matches with PRs around 15 or so. Now he routinely plays around 8.  Once he reaches the EP threshold, his oldest results will be removed and his PR as mentioned in the tables will more accurately reflect his current skill level.

M : Sounds good. Thank you, Walter.


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