Next Online Event – Sunday, August 9th, 12:00 noon.
To register, send entry fee to Rich Sweetman via Venmo @ rsweet4
Entry Deadline, Sunday, July 26th @ 11:30 AM (EST)
- Entry Fee: $10.00 (100% return)
- Optional Side Pool A: $20.00 (90% return)
- Optional Side Pool B: $50.00 (95% return)
The side pools are exclusive: you may only enter one or the other.
Tournament format is single-elimination with consolation: players who lose before cashing in the Main draw will be entered in the Consolation draw with a chance to win a $ prize. All participants are ensured at least two matches.
A New Era in Backgammon
Following the lead of the Twin Cities Backgammon Club, NEBC is now holding ‘virtual’ online tournaments.
Far beyond simply having people meet up on backgammon sites to play matches in isolation and report back the results via email, the virtual tournament brings players together in real time, in a virtual space where they can hear each other’s voices, and if willing, see each other’s faces as they play out tournament matches over the course of an afternoon or evening. At right you see a portal to the NEBC Tournament Lobby via DISCORD. By clicking Connect, you will be invited to download the easy-to-use Discord software, and upon entering (at specified times) will be coached through the simple steps required to join your NEBC friends online.
Other Requirements for Participation: In order to join in, you will need to have a player account at Backgammon Galaxy, which is the default site for playing NEBC online matches. However, by mutual consent you may choose to play on any site to which you both have access. You will need equipment that allows you to converse with your opponent and tournament organizers over the internet in real time. A computer with built-in camera and microphone is fine so long as you are able to adjust or mute computer sounds to avoid feedback and keep background distractions to a minimum. Otherwise, a microphone & headset would be preferable. Finally, you will need to be able to send entry fees – and receive prizes – via the popular Venmo virtual payment app.
After downloading Discord and visiting our server for the first time via the portal above, you should always return to the NEBC server directly from the software on your computer or mobile device.
Online Tournament Rules & Procedures
The online tournament process is actually easier to participate in than it is to describe. Below are the details of how the event works — but you will find the whole process unfolds quite naturally once you get onto the Discord platform and we meet you there.
Our Gathering Place: Discord
Discord is an online application that allows groups of people to gather in a common ‘virtual’ space and communicate through talk, text, and video in one-to-one or many-to-many participant groupings. When you log on, you will discover an NEBC text-feed lobby where everyone can communicate by text, and a common Tournament Room audio channel where everyone can hear each other in real time, just as you would in a live tournament room. You will also be able to call any other player in the space in a private audio or video chat, to arrange your match, or simply to catch up and socialize a bit. Even if you are not participating in a tournament, you are welcome drop in on this virtual space to say hello and see how things are going, to re-discover old friends and make new ones.
Here’s a nice YouTube introduction to using Discord. You may even discover that you have other uses for this handy free app and create servers of your own for your other collaborative activities!
Here’s another much longer instructive video aimed more at administrators. It goes into added depth on the various server settings and techniques.
To register for a tournament, you simply pay the entry fee via Venmo the popular mobile payment app by the registration deadline. Please include your email address along with the payment so we can contact you through our online bracketing system (see below).
If you are unable to use Venmo for whatever reason, you should arrange for a friend to make payment on your behalf. You should not register for a tournament until you have installed the Discord software and registered to play on Backgammon Galaxy. (While playing on other sites is fine, we must ensure that all players have at least this one venue in common).
The Online Drawsheet: Challonge
Once you make your entry fee payment on Venmo, the tournament Director will add your email address to a tournament player list on the popular Challonge online bracketing site, and Challonge will send you an email inviting you to confirm your place on the player roster. If you are new to the site, Challonge will invite you to register for a free user account.
You may choose whatever Challonge username you like, but after accepting the invitation to our tournament, please look for an orange ‘Go To Your Settings’ button that will allow you to edit your Display Name for our event so that it will show your actual name on our drawsheet.
Each tournament event will be scheduled for an official Start Time (T) and follow the following deadlines:
- T-minus 30 minutes – Registration ends. Please don’t cut it short.
- T-minus 10 minutes – be in the Tournament Room voice channel for announcements and instructions.
- T-minus 0 minutes – The tournament bracket will be drawn and posted. (Note: if you are not a known player and have not appeared in the Tournament room before the draw, we may refund your money and exclude you from the draw).
- T-plus 10 minutes – First penalty point awarded for players not reachable on Discord by voice or text. An additional penalty point will be awarded every 5 minutes. The match is forfeited when 5 penalty points have been assigned.
Connect With Your Opponent
Your match pairing on the Challonge drawsheet will indicate a Table # corresponding to a voice channel in Discord. That’s where you should meet your opponent, introduce yourself and agree on a site for playing your match. If your opponent does not appear promptly, you can post a message in the text lobby, or try calling them directly by right-clicking on their name in the player list. The Tournament Director should be able to see both players, with microphones on (un-muted) in each playing room for all current matches. No spectators are allowed in the Table voice channels.
Maintaining an audio connection via Discord is required for the duration of all matches.
Players who are unable or unwilling to fulfill this requirement may be barred from future NEBC tournaments.
We also encourage, but do not require, use of the video sharing option for an enhanced social experience!
Reporting Match Results
When a match is completed, the winner is responsible for updating the Challonge tournament bracket.
If for any reason you are unable to enter the result in Challonge, announce your result in the #nebc-lobby Text Channel at Discord using the following format: @Directors [Winner Name] defeats [Loser Name]. The directors will acknowledge your report and update the bracket accordingly.
Waiting For Your Next Match
You may spend time between your matches much as you would at a live tournament. You might look up the match you are waiting on in the bracket and see whether you can locate it to watch on one of the BG sites (it can be difficult to find matches on Galaxy). You can step into the Tournament Room, and have a general conversation with anyone who happens to be “in” there, or Call acquaintances via the player list. You can go make a sandwich or mix a drink. Just make sure to stay in frequent contact so you’ll be on hand when your match comes up. If you need to be offline or absent from your device for more than 15 minutes, alert the Tournament Director by using the @Directors tag in the chat.
Grounds for Forfeiture
The following are grounds for forfeiture without refund of entry fees.
- If you are unable to maintain a stable enough internet connection to complete your online matches at a reasonable pace, you will be required to forfeit the match.
- If you are playing a clocked match and run out of time for any reason, you lose the match. Galaxy matches should be played on the generous “Casual” clock setting. Be aware that the Galaxy clock will continue to run in some circumstances when your connection is weak and you cannot move the checkers. In these cases you should quit your browser or copy the URL into a new window or browser application.
- Players must remain in contact with the NEBC Discord server throughout the tournament. Being ‘Offline’ is the same as leaving the tournament venue at a live event, and the Director will assume you have departed for the day.If your opponent is looking for you in the Tournament Room (Voice chat), and you are not available, they will notify a tournament director who will start a clock and try to locate you on the Discord site. If you are not able to play within 15 minutes, you forfeit.
The spirit of the Standard NEBC Rules for for play and the USBGF Standards of Ethical Practices shall apply to all NEBC online events insofar as they may be applied to digital platforms. Players may not make use of any resources, tools, or assistance that would not be permitted in a live tournament, with the exception of the online playing site’s pip-count, which may be freely viewed.
This approach to online competition was pioneered in the spring of 2020 by Jeff Spencer and Michael & April Mesich at the Twin Cities Backgammon Club. The guidelines and procedures detailed here are adapted from their original materials, for which we are grateful.
Notes on The Online Tournament Experience
Respecting Privacy in Audio / Video Channels
The coronavirus lockdown has driven us all to adopt unfamiliar new communications tools, such as Zoom and Discord, which open direct audio-visual channels between our households. Inevitably, there will be times when we neglect to mute a microphone, or forget that a web camera is projecting our image onto the internet.
When you realize that an opponent, spectator, or any participant on the NEBC Discord server is unaware their microphone or camera is open, we require that you immediately alert them that they are being heard, or seen. If you are unable to get their attention, you must alert a tournament Director, who will then temporarily disconnect them from the server to protect their privacy.
Note that when you connect to a Voice channel — either a group channel like the Tournament Room, or an individual Call, that connection remains open until you click a ‘Disconnect’ button or enter a different Voice channel. It is very easy to click away from a call into one of the Text channels or even into another server without realizing you have not terminated your audio connection with your audience.
Inviting New Players to NEBC Events
We would like to grow online participation at NEBC events, but we don’t want to extend an open invitation on public websites to people all over the world, as we would like to maintain a sense of a “local” NEBC community.
So, if there are people you know and like from other cities or clubs, or people you have befriended by playing with them regularly online, please feel welcome to invite them to our events by pointing them to this web-page, and by inviting them to sign up for our NEBC Newsletter from the front page of our website. If they turn up to play, please greet them and introduce them to others in the Text Lobby or Tournament room. Then persuade them to move to Boston.
Note that when you are in the NEBC Discord server, you can get an invitation link by clicking on our club name in the upper left hand corner of the window. Sending someone that link will invite them to download the Discord software if they don’t already have it, and point them to our server.
Introducing Newcomers to Discord
When welcoming a new player to the Discord NEBC Server, it’s best to guide them through a sequence of specific tasks so they can get their bearings and feel at home. We recommend following this script.
- You can recognize a newcomer arriving in the NEBC Lobby because their name won’t be formatted in our standard style. Text them a greeting and engage them in a brief exchange to make sure they’re “with you.”
- Ask them to meet you in the Tournament Room voice channel so they can experience a multi-participant audio conversation, and point out that this is where they have to be to check in for tournaments. If it is too noisy there, have them meet you in one of the other less active ‘Side Room’ channels. Explain the process — and the need — for ‘muting’ their mics in the Tournament Room using the icon tools in the lower left panel.
- If a newcomer is having difficulty hearing audio despite everything seeming to be in place, they are probably accessing Discord via their Web-Browser rather than via the Discord software app. You must walk them through the distinction and coast them always to enter the server via the software!
- Coach them through the process of editing their Nickname by right-clicking their name in the right-hand panel, so that they wind up with the “FirstName LastName (Galaxy Username)” format. IMPORTANT: This step also serves to ascertain that they have the Galaxy account required for participation. If they have not registered, have them enter “(Pending)” as their username.
- Ask them to ‘Call’ you by right clicking on your name in the right-hand panel and selecting ‘CALL’.
- Once you have established the Call connection, explain that Calling will be the way for them to contact their opponents and agree on where and how to set up their matches. If you are willing, activate your Video option so they can see you and understand the social potential of the Discord platform. Encourage them to keep audio and/ or video on as they play their matches.
- Explain that when they complete a match, the WINNER should report the result in the text-chat Lobby using the formula “@Directors [Winner] defeats [Loser]” — having both players report will simply clutter the Directors text channel.
- Draw attention to the ribbon of Server icons and encourage them to monitor that space to look for messages from other players. (Perhaps send them a message to illustrate?)
- Ask for any further questions. Done!
Add a Picture to your Profile!
The little panel in the lower left of your window is super important. That’s where you mute your mic, or deafen your audio, or Disconnect from an audio channel or Call with another player. It’s also where you open your personal preferences. Click on the little gear icon and explore the ways you can customize your Discord experience. Please do Edit your avatar in the ‘My Account’ panel to replace the generic icon with a picture of yourself — or a fun image that will help define your online personality! It’s more fun to see a varied list of individuals in the player list rather than a uniform slate of robots.
Configuring Your Microphone / Headset
If you want to participate in online tournaments while enjoying the various sound effects produced by GridGammon or Galaxy as well as being alerted to notifications in Discord, you should make use of a microphone/headset device. Otherwise, the sounds from your computer’s built-in speakers will be picked up by your built-in microphone and subject your opponent to an annoying stream of delayed sound-effects in addition to whatever he is hearing from his own audio system. That’s really not okay!
There are various headsets systems available to afford you your ideal sound environment while filtering out everything but your actual conversation from the sound channel. Look for one that’s right for you, whether it’s big padded headphones or tiny Apple AirPods. Here’s a useful guide to adjusting the audio settings in Discord to provide you — and your opponent — with an ideal aural experience.
When BG Galaxy Freezes . . .
At the start of any match on Backgammon Galaxy, the player who joined the match should copy the match URL and paste it into the #galaxy-matchlinks text Channel in Discord, along with the names of both players. This will allow spectators to find your match if they are waiting on your to finish, but will also provide you a lifeline if you experience the dreaded Galaxy Disconnect.
When a ‘Disconnect’ happens, you’ll find you cannot move your checkers or pick up your dice as your clock ticks down and you feel powerless to do anything. When this happens, you should close your browser window and go to the #galaxy-matchlinks channel to click on your match, which should take you back into the match. (You may have to log back into Galaxy first).
When an Online Site Fails Mid-Game
It rarely occurs that a match on GridGammon, Galaxy, or other site might irrecoverably freeze mid-game. In order to finish the match, you might have to get a little creative.
- Each player takes a reference picture of the position before logging out and trying to resume.
- Each player sets up the position at home on a real backgammon table.
- Return to the site, or visit another site and set up a short match.
- Use the online match dice as surrogate dice for your real game, and announce your moves to each other as you play them, checking now and then to confirm your positions still match. Transcribing the rolls/moves would be a good idea, particularly in complex games where errors are more likely.
- Meanwhile, you will need to play out the online match, but you needn’t take it seriously. When you finish your real-world game, one player should forfeit the match. Then start a new match of the same length, and have the other player forfeit if you want to even out the ratings points.
- Now note your real match score and begin a new official match online. Carefully use doubles/drops/resigns to establish the appropriate starting score. It may be quicker to think of the score in “away” terms and create the shortest necessary match. For instance if the score of an 11-pointer was 6-9, think of it as 5-away 2-away and just create a 5-pointer at score 0-3.
These cases can be frustrating, and sometimes there is no solution that is perfectly fair. Please make an effort to improvise an equitable agreement before appealing to the Tournament Director for a ruling.