Michel Lamote in the final of the 4th Merit Open in Montenegro

Today at 14:00, Michel Lamote will play the final of the Main Tournament of the 4th Merit Open in Budva, Montenegro, against Bakar Matikashvili (Georgia). If Michel wins the 17 point match, he will have to win a second one, to 9 points, since Bakar has not yet been defeated while Michel has reached the final from the 2nd Chance. There’s a good chance the match will be live-streamed on YouTube, at the Merit Backgammon Tournament channel. Good luck, Michel!

More information on the tournament’s Facebook page.

4th Merit Open Montenegro Grand Prix Brackets

Master Main 1/4

Master Main 2/4

Master Main 3/4

Master Main 4/4

Masters 2nd Chance 1/5

Masters 2nd Chance 2/5

Masters 2nd Chance 3/5

Masters 2nd Chance 4/5

Masters 2nd Chance (final sheet) 5/5

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BMS: Red Beavers off to Montenegro with good PR’s under their belt.

In preparation for the WBGF World Team Championship (8-10 April), Belgium’s four highest ranked players sparred in the Montenegro Challenge. Marc Van Damme, Geert Van der Stricht, Johan Huyck and Michel Lamote played six 13-pointers against each other in a round robin for a total of eighteen matches each. Here is how they did:

PR Geert (18 x 13). Scores 10/18.

Geert Van der Stricht won the Montenegro Challenge in convincing fashion with this excellent performance.

After years of persistent study, weekly practice and in-depth analysing, Geert has made it to the top of the BMS Grading Table with a PR of 4,34 (600 EP). Fantastic achievement!

PR Marc (18 x 13). Scores 11/18.

Marc Van Damme won most matches, but came in second for the PR prize (which was what this Montenegro Challenge was all about). Still, this is a solid performance, more than good enough to compete confidently with the best in the world.

PR Michel (18 x 13). Scores 5/18.

Coming out of hibernation, I could not find my best form and have to be satisfied with this average PR… Hopefully I can lift my game a bit in Montenegro…

PR Johan (18 x 13). Scores 10/18.

Johan would have loved to play below-5, but made just one or two errors too many. Looks like Belgium will soon have a confident quartet of below-5 players.

Team PR (36 x 13).

We had set it as our goal to play collectively below 4,5 PR, but narrowly missed the mark.

The WBGF World Team Championship starts on Monday 8 April and will be played over three days in Budva, Montenegro. 27 countries have entered, with Japan, Denmark, Germany and the USA as the teams to beat. Belgium will be represented by a team of six “Red Beavers”: the four players mentioned above together with Johan Segers and Guy Van Middelem. Also Paulus Van Rooijen and Paul Van Dijke will be present, but sadly they could not find enough teammates to form a team for the Netherlands. They will compete in the 4th Merit Open Montenegro Grand Prix, however, which starts on Wednesday 10 April and finishes on Sunday 14 April.

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4 Cubes 2019: Round 1 complete

Round 1 in the 4 Cubes 2019, Belgium’s backgammon interclub competition, is now complete. Detailed results can be found in the Tournament Book. In summary:

  • Brussels 2 – Brussels 1 : 6-3
  • Brugge – Gent : 2-7
  • Leuven 1 – Leuven 2 : 5-4

In the PR competition, Gent (4.63) is taking the lead before Brugge (5.79) and Leuven 2 (8.45).

Rounds 2 and 3 will be played for all six teams together on Sunday, May 19, on a venue to be announced.

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BMS: Robin does well in Master Series.

Over the past weeks, Geert Van der Stricht and Robin Bilderbeek played, recorded and transcribed eight 9-point matches. Here is how they did:

PR Robin (8*9). Robin loses 2-6.

A very strong statement by Robin, whose diligent work with XG are bearing fruit. Robin’s sometimes virtuoso checkerplays combine imagination with accuracy, but his cube-handling is still erratic. All in all an encourageing performance.

PR Geert (8*9). Geert wins 6-2.

Geert could not find his best form in this Master Series and as a consequence fails to improve his standings on the BMS GT.

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First national trophy for Dan Pascu

Runner-up Kristoffer De Weert (left) and Belgian Champion 3-point matches Dan Pascu (right) just before the start of their final, played on Saturday, February 9, 2019, in the Arena, Wavre.

The 3rd Belgium Championship 3-point matches, played on Saturday the 9th of February in the Arena in Wavre, crowned Dan Pascu, from Turnhout, beating – rather easily 2-0 – Kristoffer De Weert in a one-sided final.

Ten participants played a Swiss tournament during 7 rounds of 2 matches per round to qualify 4 of them. Kristoffer finished on top with 10 victories out of 14, together with Dan, daddy Riza Yalçin and his son Mahir. Kristoffer won his semi-final against Mahir, Dan defeated Riza.

We welcomed a new BGFed.be member, Nicolas Bivort, who did well, tying all his matches but losing twice against future winner Dan.

The Arena in Wavre offered nice playing rooms, breakfast & lunch ; the atmosphere was excellent. Hopefully this Championship can gather more participants next year.

— GvM

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BMS : two major changes.

The BMS Committee (Geert Van der Stricht, Johan Huyck, Paulus Van Rooijen) announce that two major changes will be implemented. Johan Huyck, who is responsible for the BMS Grading Table (registering applications, re-analysing XG-files, processing the data, updating the GT, etc.) explains :

Johan: On 1 February 2019 , the Rolling EP was reduced from 750 to 600. This means that the published overall PR of a player is now based on his performances in the most recent 600 matchpoints.

M: Why this adjustment?

Johan: Well, 600 is still a lot of course. It is the equivalent of forty-seven 13-point matches. This relatively high number is needed to reduce volatility and maximise reliability. On the other hand, it gives players the opportunity to shed a bad PR a little more quickly than before. With 750 EP, it could take a player one or two years to leave a bad result behind, a prospect which could potentially have a demotivating effect. With 600 EP a moderately active BMS player should be able to shed a horrendous PR within 10 to 12 months.

M: Makes sense. Has this adjustment caused major changes on the BMS GT?

Johan: Not at all. The impact of this recalibration has been fractional. The maximum deviation has been 0,10 PR.

M: OK. What is the second change?

Johan: Well, as of 1 April 2019 the BMS Committee will charge a processing fee for BMS GT matches.

M: Fair enough. How will that work?

Johan: First of all, there will be no fee for BIC and Four Cubes matches, nor for matches played for the national team at international team events. For other matches, there will be a 2€ fee, regardless of match length. If both players are applicants they would each have to pay 1€ per match.

M: Sounds very reasonable. So, if I play a Master Series of six 11-point matches against Geert, we would each have to pay a 6€ processing fee?

Johan: Correct. Let me give a couple of other examples. Let us say that Player A plays a tournament abroad and applies for BMS validation [known as a Master Series 2]. If he then plays four 13-pointers in the Main, three 9-pointers in the Consolation, and two 5-pointers in the Last Chance, his fee would be 18€.

Sometimes, however, there can be duplication. If players A, B and C apply for BMS validation for the Gent Open (seven 7-point matches), this does not automatically mean that each player has to pay 14€. If, for instance, A has a bye, and A and B have a mutual encounter (= duplication), then the fees would be: A 11€, B 13€ and C 14€.

In case of a BMS event, the Xmas Trophy for instance, ALL matches are duplicated since ALL the participants are BMS applicants. This would mean that the fee would be 1€ per player per match or 5€ , since the event consists of five 9-point matches.

M: And what with BMS GT players who encounter a BMS applicant during an event, but have not filed an application themselves?

Johan: They do not have to pay, of course. Only the applicants have to cough up the fee.

M: Right. And how are players supposed to know what they owe and when to pay?

Johan: To keep it simple, players will not be charged per event, but over a 6-month period. I will send them a mail with an overview of the costs and expect them to pay one way or another within a reasonable timeframe.

M: Sounds good. Thanks for the information, Johan. And for the all the time and effort you put into this.

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3rd Belgian Championship 3-Point Matches

Dear backgammon friends,

BGFed.be kindly invites you to the 3rd Belgium Championship 3-point matches, at least 14 rounds, on Saturday the 9th of February 2019, in the Arena, avenue Pasteur 2A – 1300 Wavre, very easy parking. See all info on the included flyers [ EN | NL | FR ].

9.15 hours : registration & breakfast ;
10.00 hours : presumably Swiss movement tournament ;
+/- 14.00 hours : light lunch ;
+/- 21.15 hours : finals, cocktail drink, proclamation & prize-giving ceremony.

Please, mandatory registration before Thursday the 7th of February and BYOB (try to bring a board and a clock).

Already registered : Brisaert Johan, De Weert Kristoffer, Van Middelem Guy

Come & join us, we expect a thrilling tourney !

Hope to see you then,
— Guy

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3rd BMS Xmas Trophy won by Ronny Conaert (result) and Michel Lamote (PR). Now with complete PR ranking.

On Saturday 29 December 2018, fourteen players competed in the Sandeman Club in Gent for the 3rd BMS Xmas Trophy. Almost the complete top-12 of the BMS  Grading Table was present to try and play as best they could.

After 5 rounds of play (9-point matches), Ronny Conaert was the last man standing with 5 victories, followed by Geert Van der Stricht and Johan Huyck with 4 wins:

Ronny with the Xmas Trophy (l) is congratulated by organiser Geert (r) (photo : Robin Bilderbeek)

Ronny has been a dedicated backgammon student and expert player  for years. Recently he has upped his efforts to improve by playing challenging Master Series against strong opposition. On Saturday, he proved his mettle by winning five medium-length matches in a row, showing stamina and will to win. Congratulations, Ronny!

The Xmas Trophy is also a BMS event. All 35 matches are recorded and XG-transcribed.  In this contest, Michel Lamote came out on top. Geert Van der Stricht and Marc Van Damme also managed to play below-5:

PR 1. Michel (5 x 9). Scores 2/5.

PR  2. Geert (5 x 9). Scores 4/5.

PR  3. Marc (5 x 9). Scores 2/5.

A good PR not only depends on skill, but also on circumstantial luck. There are easy matches and difficult ones, matches with a high DD (= degree of difficulty) and with a low DD. If you have the bad luck of finding yourself in backgames or notoriously difficult prime-vs-prime positions, you may well see your PR deteriorate quickly. This may explain  the reverse order of this top-3, where Michel played 0,5 PR better  and Marc 0,5 PR worse than their true PR.

Just behind this trio come 4. Misja Alma (N) (PR 5,06) and 5. Tilman Söhnchen (GER) (PR 5,16).

Then we find the four players who occupy places 4 to 7 on the BMS GT: 6. Paulus Van Rooijen (N) (PR 5,65), 7. Johan Segers (PR 5,70), 8. Paul Van Dijke (N) (PR 5,90) and 9. Johan Huyck (PR 5,91). These are excellent PRs by all four, indicative of significant progress and sustained focus on the day.

Also 10. Luc Palmans (PR 6,53) and 11. Ronny Conaert (PR 6,96) did not disappoint and can be proud of their performance. 12. Guy Van Middelem (PR 7,92) comfortably played at par, but somehow seems to have missed an opportunity to excel.

13. Robin Bilderbeek (N) (PR 8,70) appears to be the only player in the field who  failed to impress. Robin certainly made progress in recent months, but could not find his best form.

14. Steven Hoeylaerts (PR 9,39) certainly deserves praise for this performance. Having picked up the game less than a year ago, his learning curve has been steep and this below-10 PR is proof of that.

All in all, this field of ambitious students of the game played extremely well, achieving an average PR of 6,16 (35 x 13). Belgium’s top-3 were able to stave off a valiant assault by two accomplished Dutch and German competitors as well as by their four closest pursuers on the BMS GT. Below them, Luc, Ronny and the others confidently consolidated their top-10 status. Check the BMS GT in the black banner above to see the current standings.

The event was a great success. Guy Van Middelem, President of BgFed.be, thanked Geert, Johan Huyck and Paulus Van Rooijen for the hard work and magnanimously called the organsition “perfect”. That was the sign for all present to move from the  playing room to the more dyonisian bar area, where many a word was said in jest and otherwise…





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Correction rating formula

A few days ago, it was pointed out to me that the Elo-based formula used to calculate the rating list was implemented incorrectly. This mistake has now been corrected. The result is major shift in the ratings.

I sincere apologize for the error, for which I take full responsibility. I also thank the person who has kindly pointed out the error to me.

The error and its consequences

My programming error was that the match length was not taken into account when calculating the winning chances of the two players. In other words, the winning chances were calculated as if each match were a 1-point match. This error gave an unfair advantage to the players with a high rating and a disadvantage to the players with a low rating. The ratings on top of the list were thus too high, and the ratings on the bottom of the list too low.

To understand why, remember that the longer match, the higher the winning chances of the rating favourite. The greater your winning chances, the fewer rating points you gain when you win and the more points you lose when you lose.

However, by treating each match incorrectly as a 1-pointer, the winning chances of the rating favourite were underestimated. If the rating favourite then actually won the match, her rating went up by too much. But if she lost the match, her rating went down by too little. Similarly, if the rating underdog won the match, she did not receive the rating increment she actually deserved, while she was punished too much in case of a defeat.

Technical explanation

The correct formula for a player’s winning chances P is to be found on http://www.bkgm.com/faq/Ratings.html#what_are_my_chances_of_winning_:

P = 1 / (1 + 10^(- D * sqrt(N) / 2000))

D is the difference between the player’s rating and her opponent’s rating, while N is the match length.

In the software I wrote, I had forgotten the sqrt(N) on the right-hand side in the definition of P.


To rectify things, a choice had to be made between two options:

  1. The ratings are recalculated using the correct formula for all matches in the database.
  2. The correct formula only takes effect for matches played on or after a specific date, while for matches before that date, the incorrect formula is maintained.

After discussion with BGFed.be president Guy Van Middelem and with former rating committee member Luc Palmans, it was decided unanimously to opt for the first possibility. I would like to thank Guy and Luc for their kind advice and their understanding.

The result of the correction is major change in the rating list. A large bonus for some, an equally large discount for some other.

Once more, I am extremely sorry for the mistake, which is mine and mine alone. To the best of my knowledge, the ratings are now correct.

Should you wish to have more explanations, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone or by email. If there is anything else I can do, just let me know.

— Johan Segers

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Johan Huyck (Gent BC) wins high-quality BIC Final.

The 2018 BIC Final between Johan Huyck and Paul Van Dijke (Brugge BC) started punctually at 6 PM. Johan won the first 13-pointer quite easily with a 7+ luck rate and an astonishing below-3 PR, but Paul managed to win the second match to draw level. The  third and decisive 13-pointer was again a one-sided affair with Johan coming out on top.

Johan (l) and Paul (r) before start of play. XG transcriber Robin can be detected in the background.

The encounter was filmed and transmitted on a screen in the adjoining bridge playing room, with commentaries by Geert Van der Stricht, Marc Van Damme, Paulus Van Rooijen and myself. Robin Bilderbeek transcribed live so the spectators (all five of them…) could enjoy immediate feedback by the computer programme Xtreme Gammon. To everybody’s astonishment, both players rose to the occasion and found their best playing skills. Here are their excellent PR’s :

PR Johan (3 x 13). Johan wins 2-1.

PR Paul (3 x 13). Paul loses 1-2.

Congrats to both for a well-played, high-level match. A video of the complete final (with XG and commentary) will soon be made available on YouTube thanks to the dedication and efforts of Robin Bilderbeek.

Johan presenting the 2018 BIC trophy.

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