BMS : Dirk Schiemann (GER) wins PR prize at 2nd Xmas Trophy.

Spurred on by Tournament Director Geert Van der Stricht, the 12 participants transcribed all thirty 9-point matches within 48 hours, an unprecedented achievement. Here are the results :

The field consisted of 7 Belgian players, 3 Dutch players and two German players. It was Dirk Schiemann from Germany who took the PR prize with a grandmasterly performance of 3,85 PR. Marc Van Damme and myself did our best to play like a grandmaster… but could not quite pull it off. Still, our PR’s promise good things for the future.

All in all, the level of play at this tournament was very decent. The average PR of all players combined was 6,01. Most players played slightly better than their current BMS rating, which deserves praise. Funnily, the bottom 6 players on the PR list scored the most wins, namely 16 versus only 14 for the top 6. Most victories were scored by Paul Van Dijke (4 wins : winner of the Xmas Trophy) and Johan Huyck (4 wins : runner-up).

Playing conditions in the Sandeman Club in Gent were excellent. The schedule was meticulously respected and the catering and service were top. BMS(BE) would like to thank all participants for their sportsmanship and transcribing zeal. Many thanks also to Geert and his team (Johan Huyck and Paulus Van Rooijen) for making this great event happen. The 3rd Xmas Trophy will be held at the same location somewhere in the last week of 2018.

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BMS : Marc Van Damme in grandmaster form!

Days before the last important BMS event of the year, the 2nd Xmas Trophy, Marc Van Damme en Geert Van der Stricht wrapped up another Master Series. They played, recorded and transcribed nine 9-point matches. Marc produced some high quality backgammon and came up with this groundbreaking result :

PR Marc (MS 0049 9*9). Marc loses 4-5.

This is by far the highest level of backgammon ever played in Belgium by a local player. Undoubtedly the result of hard work and daily practice. Marc hereby confirms his unchallenged number 1 spot in Belgium and looks poised to aim for Grandmaster status in 2018. Congratulations, Marc!

Geert was not able to match this ferocious form and failed to improve on his BMS standing. Still a very worthy performance of course :

PR Geert (MS 0049 9*9). Geert wins 5-4.

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BMS : fine PR’s by Marc and Michel.

Marc Van Damme is currently the highest ranked player on the BMS Grading Table. Only spectacular improvement by his two closest pursuers, Geert Van der Stricht and myself, could pose a threat to Marc’s dominant position.

Some cracks in Marc’s armour showed in our most recent Master Series (MS 0049). In six 13-point matches, Marc played a bit below his known skill level, whereas I was able to slightly outperform myself :

PR Marc (MS 0049 6*13). Marc wins 4-2.

PR Michel (MS 0049 6*13). Michel loses 2-4.

The 2nd Xmas Trophy, which will be held on Wednesday 27 December, will pit the vanguard of Belgian backgammon against each other at the Sandeman Club in Gent. 12 players will play five 9-point matches. Start of the first round is 10am. A report on ALL players’ performances will be published on this website before 10 january 2018.

Keep learning!

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BMS : consistent progress at the top.

Recording your matches with a webcam (or otherwise), transcribing them in XG and afterwards studiously analysing your errors, is a very efficient and fun way to get ahead in backgammon. This is demonstrated by the significant progress made by those who invest time and effort in this exercise.

Geert Van der Stricht and Robin Bilderbeek played, recorded and transcribed six 13-point matches over the past month. Here is how they did :

PR Geert (MS 0043 6*15). Geert wins 4-2.

PR Robin (MS 0043 6*15). Robin loses 2-4.

It looks like the days of 5+ PR’s are over for Geert. Nothing more or less than the result of sustained study. The same can be said of Robin, who has taken spectacular steps forward in the past year :

Robin pondering a backgammon position at the recent Gent Open

Geert played another Master Series against Belgium’s star attraction, Marc Van Damme, currently our undisputed number one. They played ten 13-point matches :

PR Geert (MS 0046 10*13). Geert wins 6-4.

PR Marc (MS 0046 10*13). Marc loses 4-6.

Pretty solid stuff by both players. True, the absence of pressure (there is no pecuniary reward at stake) may cause these PR’s to be slightly inflated and thus a bit flattering, but it is my guess that they will not diverge by more than 0,3 PR from both players’ real playing strengths.

I also played a Master Series. I travelled to Dubrovnik (Croatia) and took part in the tournament there. I played two 13-pointers in the Main Flight, four 9-pointers in the Second Chance, and one 5-point match in the Last Chance. I filmed and transcribed all my matches and came up with this PR :

PR Michel (2*13, 4*9, 1*5).

One can always hope for more and better, but all in all that is a satisfying PR for matches played in tournament conditions.

Next challenge on the agenda is the 2nd Xmas Trophy, which will be held on Wednesday 27 December 2017 at the Sandeman Club in Gent. Among the contenders are almost the complete top-10 of the BMS GT and … the winner of the Dubrovnik Open 2017 : Tilman Söhnchen from Berlin (GER). Also attending is the German top player (GM?) Dirk Schiemann.






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Paulus wins Speedgammon event in Dubrovnik!

Paulus (l) with tournament Director Arda and opponent Vincent.

64 players entered the Speedgammon event in Dubrovnik, Croatia. In Speedgammon, players get 2 minutes  thinking time with 10 seconds increment for a 5-point match.

Paulus Van Rooijen (Brugge BC) was able to string 6 victories together, winning the final against Vincent De Nardi (Fr).  A more than noteworthy achievement!


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BMS : Johan Huyck launches Belgium Speedgammon (+ video).

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 Huyck, inspiration behind Belgium Speedgammon.

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 :

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4 Cubes 2017 – Leuven II prolongs title

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Serge Alard, with Guy Van Middelem, is 1st of 32 participants at 9th Leuven Open

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BMS : great PR earns Marc Van Damme victory at Brussels BG Day.

Marc Van Damme is the only player in Belgium who currently holds a Master (Class 1) grading (< 4,75 PR). At the most recent Brussels Backgammon Day his performance over ten 5-point matches was almost exactly the same as his ranking on the BMS Grading Table reflects :

PR Marc Van Damme (10 x 5)

Marc was one of 6 players who won 7 matches out of 10. The others are : Akhbar Soltani, Nick De Ruyck, Leonidas Sotiriadis, Dan Pascu, and Serge Alard.

Dan Pascu was close to winning the event convincingly with 8/10, but in his final match he saw the decisive dmp-game slip through his fingers against a hard-battling Leonidas. Bad luck for Dan, as the computer programme awarded the victory to Marc based on the Buchholz criteria.

Marc (middle) with Nick (l) and neutral observer Alain Chif.

The event was a success. Tournament organiser Guy Van Middelem kept a tight rein on proceedings, making sure matches started on time and the playing schedule was respected. The catering was excellent, with croissants in the morning and sandwiches and three kinds of homemade soups for lunch.

BMS-participants were slightly dismayed, however, to find out that only 8 minutes were allotted for a 5-point match, instead of the standard 10 (i.e. 2 minutes per point). This whimsical approach stems from the wish to schedule “more matches”, but comes at the cost of valuable thinking time. 5-pointers are notoriously difficult, since take-points and gammon values are skewed from game 1. It is not like in a longer match, where the opening games have normal take-points (25%) and gammon values (0,5). Have a look at this position, for instance : Marc Van Damme is faced with a difficult cube decision in his match against me :

White redoubles. Can Black take or should he pass?

Let us have a look at the same position “for money” (or : in Unlimited Games):

White redoubles. Can Black take or should he pass?

With three blots floating and faced with a stronger board, Black faces a huge amount of gammons (45%). This results in a clear pass, not just “for Money”, but also at a 0-0 score in a 11-point match. Accepting this cube would be a clear blunder :

However, in a 5-point match, things become very complicated. After the cube is turned, it will have a value of 4 and with the gammon price being only 0,25, the 45% gammons only have a value of 11%, instead of 22% (for Money). Moreover, should Black ever have the chance to recube to 8, the gammon price would become 0 ( = zero) and all White’s gammons would evaporate. Here is the correct cube action ats ( = at the score). Suddenly, not accepting the cube would be a clear blunder :

(!!) Needless to say that this is a fantastic, world-class take by Marc. I think most players, even very good ones, would drop with a sigh of relief, myself included.

This shows that 5-point matches are very difficult from Game 1, especially the cube actions. Marc’s Cube PR (10,24) should illustrate that abundantly. I therefore urge tournament organisers to allow the EUBGF-approved and BMS-conform 2 minutes per point even for shorter match lengths.

To round off : BMS(BE) welcomes 5 new players on the BMS GT. Dan Pascu, Kristoffer De Weert, Leonidas Sotiriadis, Antoine Demey and Serge Alard decided to take advantage of the newly introduced CoP to play their match against Marc under ‘mutual PR agreement’ and thereby gained access to the BMS GT. Antoine Demey managed to do so with a Master (Class 1) result! Thanks for participating, guys.



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BMS : revised Conditions of Play come into effect on 1 November 2017.

In an effort to facilitate participation and make procedures more transparent, BMS(BE) has revised the Conditions of Play ( = CoP). We asked Geert Van der Stricht what the revisions entail :

Geert Van der Stricht, BMS Committee Chairman

Geert :  An important change is the fusion of the BMS Grading Table and the BPR Ranking Table. When the two tables were conceived we expected a significant discrepancy between both tables because of match length. This has turned  out not to be the case. After processing the data of more than 1000 matches the average PR of the 11 players represented on both tables appeared to be less than 0,01 PR.

M : So now there is only 1 tabel?

Geert : Yes, the BMS Grading Table.  A lot of work went into the merging of both tables, but it is done. By the way, another improvement is the change of the rolling EP to 750. This decreases volatility and is more accurate.

M : Anything else?

Geert : Yes, something important.  From 1 November onwards, opponents of BMS-applicants [ = players who film for BMS-validation] will have the option to have their PR’s incorporated in the BMS GT, if they so wish. We call this ‘Mutual PR agreement’. That means that if you are a member who is not yet listed on the BMS GT and you play an official match in a tournament, Four Cubes encounter, or BIC match, against a BMS-applicant, you can  gain a spot on the BMS GT by saying so to your opponent, the BMS applicant. That means that your PR will be mentioned on the GT and you will be considered a BMS participant from then on. This was done to lower the access threshold and allow players who do not film themselves to gain access to the table. There was quite a lot of interest for that

M : Sounds good. More things members need to know?

Geert : Well, because the BPR RT has merged into the BMS GT, all applications for Master Series or other PR matches need from now on be sent to Johan Huyck, and no longer to Walter Meuwis. This can be done by mail ( or even with a text message (0496/644872), no later than 5 minutes before start of the recorded match.

M : Ok, so one table instead of two and one person who processes the data instead of two. That sounds like simplification to me.

Geert : We hope so. We have also added an extensive appendix covering what to do in cases of ‘technical failure’. We needed some rules to guide us in cases where recordings were flawed.

M : Where can people find these revised Conditions of Play?

Geert : By clicking on BMS(BE) in the black banner above.  A printed copy will also be available for perusal at the Brussels Backgammon Day of 1 November 2017 since that is the day when the new CoP come into effect.

M : Ok, thank you, Geert, for the update. Good luck further with BMS(BE)!



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