A brief history of the Victorian Backgammon Association
On the 4th January 2018 at a bright and breezy Port Melbourne restaurant with very expensive parking, a group of backgammon enthusiasts met up and played a tournament.
So much fun was had that word got around. A larger group played tournament backgammon at the Glenferrie Hotel a few weeks later.
Another venue suggestion led the group to the Tower Hotel in Hawthorn. The mention of free easy parking, the research of the late closing time, with a relaxed open atmosphere and the chance of a dedicated Monday night Backgammon area.
The next Monday night more gathered at 686 Burwood Road and found quality food, at great value, a wide range of drinks at normal bar prices and good access for anyone with any mobility limitations. Not to mention quality lighting, comfortable temperatures and noise conditions ideal for Backgammon.
Through 2018 the group experienced steady growth with many players from 18 years of age to 89, across a wide range of backgrounds.
International players of extraordinary calibre have played with VBA members and visitors, notably Gaz Owen from the UK fresh from winning the 2016 Cyprus Open (the largest tournament in the world) and renowned Backgammon teacher/author, current World No.2 and all-time legend Michy Kageyama.
In early-2018 the Australian Backgammon Federation (ABF) established an on-line match entry and ratings system, developed by the UK Backgammon Federation (UKBGF).
When a new player plays at the club they receive their own National Rating and their progress can be tracked and unlucky dice discussed.
The idea to incorporate the Victorian Backgammon Association Inc as a not-for-profit entity was unanimously supported in a meeting held at the Tower Hotel in April 2019.
“The purpose of the association is to promote a safe and enjoyable community for playing backgammon in order to increase participation in the game.”
The VBA name was inspired by the Backgammon Association of Victoria which was the heartbeat of Backgammon in Melbourne through the period of Backgammon’s popularity peak of the 1970s and 80s.
In August of 2019 some 8 Victorians travelled to sunny ‘Surfers Paradise’ for the 2019 Queensland Open hosted by Steve Roberts, Simon Woodhead and team. The tour-party utilised valuable ‘pre-Magriel’ wisdom and brought along a Taswegian … for luck!
As heads hit pillows on a soggy tourney-eve, a storm of rare breadth threatened Friday travel plans for the entire non-Queensland field.
Day 1, Friday – The VBA party all snuck into ‘BaseCamp BroadBeach’ without incident. The news received at Surfers Paradise Life Saving Club for Friday night’s registration was that many from other departure points had not. Those with flights from Sydney were most impacted. The non-arrivals certainly didn’t hurt the chances to earn our first VBA silverware.
Day 2, Saturday – A sunny and thrilling day of tight squeezes resulting in more good-luck stories than bad being told as night set in. The majority of the Vics were content and very-much alive across the Open, the Masters and the Speed events.
Day 3, Sunday – A bright sunny day closed with an all-Victorian Queensland Open Final. The champion was Tassie Mark’s roommate. Surely no-coincidence and a dream-finale for Victoria in a feature tournament on the first ‘unofficial’ club tour.
The ancient wisdom continued to deliver throughout the night.
BaseCamp BroadBeach was hastily chosen to host the post-tourney Chouette.
In 2019 the Queensland Open tourney team delivered a memorable and highly recommended event.
2020 saw the VBA continue to play Backgammon nearly every Monday night since January 2018, with a format designed to be suitable for everybody looking to improve their game.
Anyone can compete with and learn from top-level tournament players in real tournaments. FREE tournament-entry is always available on every club-night.
In March 2020, the club suspended meeting at the Tower Hotel due to the risks and restrictions associated with the global pandemic.
In April 2020, the club commenced meeting On-Line, Monday Nights using the Safe Harbour Games Backgammon software available for free on-line.
The VBA is affiliated with the Australian Backgammon Federation (ABF) and a contributor in a combined effort to grow the game throughout Australia.
In October the VBA will host its first tournament – the 2020 Victorian Online Backgammon Open.
The 2020 Victorian Backgammon Association’s Annual General Meeting will be held in December 2020, on-line if necessary due to the pandemic restrictions.
The future is bright. 2021 promises the resumption of the VBA playing face-to-face, the operation of a new VBA website, and hopefully another VBA interstate tour.
Thank you for taking an interest in the history of the Victorian Backgammon Association.
This photo shows our record crowd numbers at The Tower Hotel, Hawthorn, in March 2020 just before our first COVID-19 enforced lockdown. We have now resumed live play at a new venue, at the Victorian Bridge Association in Murrumbeena.