For many years, speedgammon has been a side event in international tournaments. At the 2017 Nordic Open, speedgammon even replaced the traditional Last Chance event. Also in Monte Carlo (the World Championship) and Reykjavik (the European Team Championship), speedgammon proved very popular.
In Reykjavik, Johan Huyck reached the semi-final in speedgammon and made it his mission to introduce this fun but challenging backgammon variation in Belgium.
Johan : Speedgammon is exactly the same as backgammon, but with less time on the clock. Instead of 2 minutes per point and 12 seconds increment, players only get 20 seconds per point and 10 seconds increment. So for a 7-point match, each player only gets 2’20” in the time bank instead of 14 minutes. As a consequence, time management becomes of utmost importance.
M : So this means that you have to play backgammon without thinking?
Johan : Well, you certainly cannot spend 30 seconds doing a pip count or something. You have to manage your time well, which means that you have to feel intuitively where you can spend time thinking and where not.
M : So what did you do exactly when you came back from Iceland?
Johan : Well, I was able to convince the BMS Committee to introduce a Speedgammon Grading Table and a separate Speedgammon ELO Ranking. This was implemented on 1 November 2017. The main purpose of this initiative is to see in how far PR’s deviate from PR’s achieved under normal playing conditions.
M : Was anybody interested?
Johan : I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic response. 7 players have already taken up the gauntlet and accumulated 422 EP, which is equivalent to about sixty 7-point matches. Geert Van der Stricht and Paul Van Dijke even played a 49-point speedmatch [16 minutes and 20 seconds on the clock], but since the maximum match length is 21, this match could not be validated.
M : And the PR’s?
Johan : It looks like PR’s will deviate from normal PR’s by about 1 to 1,5 PR-point. For the moment Marc Van Damme is the only exception. He managed to play 4,82 PR over 63 EP, which is very close to his acknowledged skill level under normal playing conditions. But all in all it is way too early to draw conclusions.
M : Ok, thank you Johan for this initiative.
Note : The Conditions of Play for Speedgammon are the same as for the BMS Grading Table and can be found by clicking on BMS(BE) in the black banner above.
Also : watch the video below to get an impression of Tuesday evening backgammon action at the Sandeman Club in Gent. The video was made by Robin (‘Rain‘) Bilderbeek :