The NEBC hosts tournaments one Sunday a month at Frank’s Steakhouse in Cambridge, MA. Entry fees are $60 for the Open Division and $30 for the Intermediate Division, with 80-85% of fees returned in prizes for those who go farthest in both the Main and Consolation brackets of each division.
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Annual Points Race
Players are awarded points for each match they win and bonus points for advancing to the semi-finals or further in each tournament. The top seven points-earners in each division engage in the seasonal playoffs, vying for the title of Club Champion (Open) and Player of the Year (Intermediate), and for cash prizes generated by entry fees over the course of the season.
Calendar & Venue
Doors open at 11:30, and registration closes at 11:45 so that play can begin at noon. Players who find themselves running late may secure a place in the draw by texting their name and division to Albert Steg at 617-417-6743 — or by asking a friend already at the venue to register on their behalf.
|Date||Event||Time / Place|
|Sept. 15th||Monthly Tournament||11:30 / Frank’s
|October 20th||Monthly Tournament||11:30 / Frank’s
|November 17th||Bonus Tournament||11:30 / Frank’s
|December 15th||Monthly Tournament||11:30 / Frank’s
|January 5th||USBGF $-Added Event||11:30 / Frank’s
|February 9th||Monthly Tournament||11:30 / Frank’s
|February 13th-16th||Boston Open (ABT)||Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor
|March 15th||Monthly Tournament||11:30 / Frank’s
|April 5th||Monthly Tournament||11:30 / Frank’s
|May 3rd||Bonus Tournament||11:30 / Frank’s
|June 7th||Club Championship Finals||11:30 / Frank’s
Frank’s is a short 7 minute walk from the Davis Square T Station (or 15 mins from the Porter Square T / commuter rail stop). If you are driving, Frank’s has a parking lot right behind the establishment, off Rice Street. If it should fill up, you may park across the street at the Century Bank lot, or around the next corner to the north (Norris Street) behind Verna’s cafe. Unrestricted meter-free street parking is also plentiful on Sundays.
Format & Prizes
The NEBC hosts a consolation-style tournament, which means all players are randomly placed in the Main tournament bracket, and anyone who loses before reaching the “money” round (typically the semi-final), is entered into a Consolation tournament bracket, still in the running for a cash prize and bonus points. Therefore all entrants are guaranteed to play at least two matches. Match lengths typically range from 7 points to 13 points in the Main and 5 in the Consolation bracket.
Entry fees for regular tournaments are $60 for Open, $30 for Intermediate.
Entry fees for the two annual ‘Bonus Point’ events (November, May) are $100 for Open, $50 for Intermediate.
Food & Drink
Part of our arrangement with Frank’s Steakhouse is that we run a single tab for the entire club, so that wait staff don’t lose their minds trying to keep track of constantly moving customers. Frank’s does not charge us for the room, so we pay them through our purchases, and we express our appreciation to the staff with a generous 30% tip. Because NEBC wants to encourage members to patronize the restaurant, the club will subsidize part of that generous tip. So before leaving for the day, please tally up your purchases, add 20-25% for tax & tip, and pay the tournament director for your part of the tab.
85% of Open and 80% of Intermediate entry fees are returned in cash prizes for the current event. The remaining funds are applied to the year-end ‘Playoffs’ prize pool and for tipping the restaurant staff.
In a typical tournament with 16+ players in the Main bracket, we will pay cash prizes to six players: 1st Place, 2nd Place, and both Semi-Finalists in the Main, as well as 1st and 2nd Place contestants in the Consolation bracket. With 14 or 15 entrants we pay four places. With 13 or fewer, three players will receive prizes.
Open or Intermediate?
An ‘Open’ Division is generally the strongest division at any backgammon tournament. it is ‘Open’ in the sense that anyone, regardless of expertise, is welcome to play so long as they pony up the entry fee. Part of the excitement of backgammon is that a player of moderate experience can beat a world-class master perhaps 30% of the time. So whether you rate yourself a very strong contender against any opponent, or whether you just want to “play in the bigs” and don’t mind the somewhat higher entry fee, the Open Division is for you.
The current NEBC ‘Intermediate’ Division is limited to players who have yet to develop sufficient mastery to place them on a competitive footing against Open-level players. There is quite a broad range of experience in this division, from those who are playing in their first tournaments to those who have several years of experience. NEBC would like to encourage and enable all players to improve their game to the Open level over time, but it is perfectly fine to treat our tournaments as a stimulating social pastime without getting too “serious” about it! So if you are a more casual player, or if you are an ambitious but less-experienced player, you are welcome to play in our Intermediate Division. The Intermediate Division is closed to players who have demonstrated expertise deemed by the tournament director to confer an inordinate advantage in that pool of players.
Players who are not restricted to the Open division may choose to play Intermediate one month and Open the next, as they like. However, bonus points earned in one division are not transferable to the other, so if you are interested in earning a spot in the playoffs at the end of the season, you will do best to stick to one division over the course of a season.
The NEBC does not currently offer a Novice Division, as our attendance, while growing, is not yet sufficient to support a third grouping. Thankfully, the nature of our game is such that players of substantially different experience levels can enjoy playing together. All that is required to participate in the Intermediate Division beyond a fundamental grasp of standard backgammon play is an understanding of the doubling cube. However, we do look forward to a time when our numbers increase to the point where a third division is once again viable.
What Version of Backgammon?
Backgammon is one of the world’s most ancient games, and a standard game board can host a variety of similar but distinct games: Plakoto, Moultezim, Shesh Besh, Acey-Deucy, to name a few. NEBC plays the popular version of the game that has become standard in the United States and in the international tournament community, most akin to the game called “Portes” in the Middle East and Greece. The fundamentals of this version of the game can be found on the the USBGF website. Tournament play also includes use of the doubling cube, and employs the Crawford Rule in a contest to reach the number of points specified as the “match length.” These details are also explained in the USBGF primer cited above. Many newcomers arrive for their first NEBC tournament unfamiliar with some of these features of tournament play, but quickly learn the ropes from our friendly members — so don’t be shy.
We encourage each player to keep score on paper even if a scoring flip-board is used. In the event of a scoring dispute, failure to keep score creates a presumption in favor of one’s opponent.
The third column on the scoresheet may be used to note wins and losses, cube actions, or other reminders of how the match progressed.
House Rules - Frank's Steakhouse
We are fortunate that Frank’s is able to accommodate our tournaments, so we must always be good guests. Please do not bring any food or drink into the restaurant. Remember that regular patrons are also dining in the restaurant space, so do your best not to linger in the central walkway, and do not set up games outside of the sections we have been assigned unless all our tables are filled with active games and you get permission from wait staff.
Tournament Rules & Procedures
NEBC employs a modified version of the popular Chicago Point “Rules & Procedures” guidelines, laid out here in sections. We have adopted the “Legal Plays” standard that is now widely followed at ABT events. We have not adopted the “dice on checkers” variation promoted in recent years by the USBGF.
1.1 INTERPRETATION. The Tournament Rules and Procedures cannot and should not regulate all possible situations that may arise during a match. No set of rules should deprive the Director of his freedom of judgment or prevent him from finding the solution dictated by fairness and compatible with the circumstances of a particular case.
1.2 SCOPE. Except where otherwise specified, the commonly accepted rules of backgammon apply.
1.3 STAFF. The NEBC organizer administering the draw shall assume the responsibilities of Director. The Director may consult with other organizers in delivering rulings and managing irregularities in the course of the tournament.
1.4 ENTRIES. All entries are subject to the approval of the Tournament Director. Reasons for exclusion need not be stated. Where more than one Tournament division exists, an entrant may be restricted from playing in a lower division.
1.5 AIDS. Once a match is in progress, players shall not use written, mechanical or electronic aids except to keep score.
1.6 COMMUNICATIONS. The official Tournament language is English. Speech in any other language will not be permitted between players and/or spectators while matches are in progress. Players may not use cell phones or other electronic communication devices except during authorized breaks.
1.7 SPECTATORS. Spectators shall remain silent while observing a match. Spectators have no right to draw attention to any misplays or comment on plays. Spectators who observe improprieties or irregularities during a match should discuss them in private with the Director. A player may request the Director to bar one or more spectators from viewing his match.
2.1 PLACE. Matches shall be played in designated Tournament areas.
2.2 TIME. Matches shall start promptly at the appointed times. Each player may take one 5 minute recess (between games) in a match not exceeding 13 points in length. The Director may permit additional recess time in longer or especially important matches.
2.3 PENALTY POINTS. Unless excused by the Director, a late player shall be penalized by points awarded to the opponent. The first penalty point shall be awarded 15 minutes after the appointed starting time and accrue thereafter at the rate of 1 point for each 5 minute delay. When the penalty points awarded exceed half the number needed to win the match, the absent player loses by forfeit. To avoid penalties, a player shall obtain the Director’s consent when leaving the Tournament site for more than 10 minutes. Not having alerted the Director of intention to return, a player who does not appear for a Consolation match within 10 minutes of his opponent becoming available shall forfeit his match.
2.4 SLOW PLAY. Players are expected to play at a reasonable pace. The Director may require a time clock to pace slow matches.
2.5 MONITORS. On his own initiative or at the request of a player, the Director may appoint a monitor to observe a match and protect against irregularities during play.
3.1 EQUIPMENT. Either player may demand that both use, when available and approved by the Director: (a) precision dice (over any others) and/or (b) lipped dice cups (over unlipped). By mutual agreement, players may use a single pair of dice, signaling the end of each play with a finger tap or other signal. So long as a single pair of dice are agreed upon, either or both players may choose to use a baffle box. The Director may require mutual use of a baffle box, or of a single pair of dice.
3.2 PREFERENCES. Prior to the commencement of a match, the backgammon board, direction of play, checker color, seat location, and baffle box location (right or left side) may be decided by rolls of the dice. If only one player uses a baffle box, he or she will choose which side to place it on.
3.3 EQUIPMENT CHANGES. The Director may replace equipment at any time. Otherwise the equipment initially selected shall be used throughout. Either player may demand a mixing of the four initially selected dice prior to the start of any game. To mix the dice the demanding player shakes the four dice together in one cup and rolls them out. The opponent selects a die, then roller, then opponent, with roller taking the last die.
4.0 PLAY OF THE GAME / IRREGULARITIES
4.1 RANDOM ROLLS. Dice are strictly a means of obtaining random numbers; any other use violates the rules and the spirit of backgammon. A legal roll consists of shaking the dice vigorously in a dice cup and then simultaneously tossing them out at a discernible height above the playing surface, allowing them to bounce and roll freely. Both dice must leave the cup before either die contacts the board; otherwise they must be rerolled. Between turns the dice shall remain in the dice cup with the cup kept in plain view. Alternatively, players may roll legally by casting both dice simultaneously through a baffle box.
4.2 VALID ROLLS. Both dice must come to rest flat on the playing surface to the right of the bar; otherwise they are “cocked” and must be rerolled. In the event of dispute, a player who rerolls prior to receiving acknowledgment from his opponent that the dice are cocked will be at a disadvantage.
4.3 MOVING. A player shall move the checkers in an unambiguous manner, using only one hand. Checkers must be reentered from the bar before moving any other checker. A player shall not touch any checkers or dice during the opponent’s turn.
4.4 CHECKER HANDLING. Checkers which have been hit must be kept on the bar pending reentry. Checkers which have been borne off must be kept off the entire playing surface for the rest of the game. A player with a checker illegally removed from play may still be gammoned or backgammoned.
4.5 LIFTING DICE. Having made a legal checker play, a player’s move is final when he lifts either or both of his dice from the playing surface. If a player wishes to reposition the dice on the table to facilitate moving the checkers, he should give notice and confirm the dice roll with his opponent; otherwise he will be at a disadvantage in the event of a dispute over the dice roll.
4.6 PREMATURE ACTIONS. The opponent of a player who rolls prematurely shall complete his turn and then either let the premature roll stand or require a reroll. The opponent of a player who doubles prematurely shall complete his turn and then pass or take.
4.7 ERROR IN SETUP. An incorrect starting position must be corrected prior to the fifth roll of the game. Thereafter the existing setup becomes official. Players starting with less than 15 checkers in play may still be gammoned or backgammoned.
4.8. LEGAL PLAYS. Players are obligated to immediately identify any illegal play, regardless of whom the error favors. Illegal plays must be corrected before the subsequent turn begins (a valid dice roll or an offered cube). Otherwise, the illegal play will stand. An illegal play is corrected by returning the checkers and dice to the original position before the error was made and resuming play. Repeated offenses will result in a warning, and may be followed by disqualification.
4.9 COMPLETION. Each game must be rolled to completion, unless ended by passing a double or redouble, or conceding a no-contact position as a single game, gammon or backgammon loss. Neither matches nor games may be canceled, replayed or settled. Players are responsible for playing to the posted match length. The first player to reach the posted match length is the winner.
4.10 REPORTING RESULTS. The match result shall be reported to a Tournament official by the winner. The official shall verify and post the result on the draw sheet. The director may correct a wrongly-posted result and should do so in a timely manner fair to all.
5.0 SCORING / DOUBLING
5.1 KEEPING SCORE. Each player shall keep a running match score and compare it to his opponent’s score at the start of every game. In the event of a scoring dispute, a player not keeping a written log of the score will be at a disadvantage.
5.2 CUBE SETUP. Both players shall take care that each game (except the Crawford game) begins with the cube centered at 1 (or “64″). Should a dispute arise, the current position and level of the cube will influence the Director’s ruling.
5.3 CUBE RULES. Gammons and backgammons count at all times whether or not the cube has been turned.
5.4 CUBE HANDLING. A player may double when it is his turn only before rolling the dice, but not after rolling cocked dice. To double or redouble, a player moves the cube toward his opponent with the higher value face up while saying “double” or words to that effect. To take, the opponent says “take” or words to that effect while placing the cube on his side of the board in plain view with the new value face up. To reject the double, the opponent says “pass” or words to that effect, records the score and resets the board. The cube should not be handled capriciously; verbal or physical acts may be interpreted as cube actions.
5.5 CRAWFORD RULE. When either player reaches one point from victory, the next game (the “Crawford game”) shall be played to conclusion with a cube value of 1. The cube shall be removed from the board during the Crawford game.
5.6 DEAD CUBE. A player may not double when he or she would win the match at its current value simply by winning the game. Any such cube action is void.
6.1 DISPUTES. When a dispute arises, all players must leave dice, checkers, cube and score unchanged while the Director is summoned. Violations by players in this area are most serious and create a presumption in favor of the opponent.
6.2 TESTIMONY. Any player may argue issues of fact or rule. Spectators shall only testify at the Director’s request.
6.3 APPEALS. A player may appeal a Director’s ruling, but he must do so promptly while timely redress may still be obtained. To resolve an appeal, the Director shall convene a committee of three knowledgeable and disinterested backgammon players. The committee shall hear relevant testimony and arguments and may only overturn the Director’s ruling by unanimous decision. This exhausts a player’s right to appeal.
Standards of Ethical Practice
NEBC subscribes to the ideals of fair play, positive behavior, and inclusion expressed in the USBGF “Standards of Ethical Practices.”
Annual Points Race
Playoff points within each division accumulate throughout the season based on the results of the monthly tournaments. After the May tournament, he top 7 points earners in each division qualify for the Championship Playoffs, competing for the titles of Intermediate Player of the Year and, for the winner of the Open division, NEBC Club Champion.
Each time you win a match, you are awarded a number of points equal to the length of that match. (7 points for a 7-point match, etc.) In the event your match is shortened due to time pressures, you would still be awarded the number of points specified as the original match length.
Anytime you reach a “cashing” round in a tournament, you are awarded bonus points as follows:
1st: 50 points
2nd: 25 points
Semi-finalists: 12 points*
1st: 25 points
2nd: 12 points**
*In the event that fewer than 16 players enter a tournament, the semi-finalists do not cash, but are entered in the consolation bracket. In this case, these players would receive either their 12 semi-finalist points, or their 25 consolation winner points, whichever is greater.
**In the event that fewer than 14 players enter a tournament, no cash award will be given for 2nd-place Consolation, but Bonus points still accrue.
In the event that fewer than 8 players enter, Bonus points will still be awarded so long as a player wins at least one match to earn them.
If you show up, but don’t win any matches, you receive 2 points for participating.
In our November and May tournaments, Bonus Points are doubled (but with usual 12-point winners earning 25 points) and match lengths are increased in the Open division. These exciting events provide opportunities for large leaps in the standings, so the race remains competitive throughout the year.
June Attendance Points
A regular tournament will be held in June, in concert with the playoff finals in both divisions. All participants in attendance will earn 15 Bonus Points applied to the following season’s points race.
The top scorer in each division receives a valuable 1st-round bye. The other six players are seeded according to standing: 2nd vs. 7th; 3rd vs. 6th; 4th vs. 5th. NEBC will provide cash prizes for the winners, finalists and semi-finalists, commensurate with the cash accumulated by NEBC over the course of the current season.
Rounds 1 & 2: Best 2 out of 3, 9-point matches.
Finals: Best 3 out of 5, 9-point matches.
Rounds 1 & 2: Best 2 out of 3, 7-point matches.
Finals: Best 3 out of 5, 7-point matches.
Rounds 1 & 2 are to be scheduled by participants at a time and place of mutual convenience in advance of the final tournament of our season in June, when the finals in both divisions will take place, leading to the naming of the “NEBC Club Champion” and the “Intermediate Player of the Year”.
Final Standings (2019 - 2020)
|3||Caracciolo, Paul A.||240|
|24||Caracciolo, Paul M.||26|
Open Division (20)
Open Division (23)
1st: Marty Storer
2nd: Alex Zamanian
Semis: Ed Ahola
Semis: Paul A. Caracciolo
1st Cons: John Leonard
2nd Cons: Nick Vining
Intermediate Division (15)
1st: Mike McElroy
2nd: Ari Jigarjian
1st Cons: Ross Gordon
2nd Cons: Robert Brennan