Newcastle Backgammon Club – 1983- 2023

2023 is the Newcastle Backgammon Club's 40th year of organisation and competition. Unfortunately, the 2020 Club Championship had to be abandoned because of Covid-19 after 3 rounds.

The Club was the brainchild of Paul Mitchell who was conducting a class about backgammon at the Newcastle WEA in 1983. After getting expressions of interest from the class and through a Public Notice in the press, the Backgammon Club’s inaugural meeting was held at the WEA on September 1st 1983.

A steering committee was formed a few weeks later that set up the framework for the Club’s activities until a Committee was elected in 1984. The majority of the system set up by this steering committee is still in place.

1984 also saw the running of the 1st Newcastle Open Backgammon Tournament at Newcastle Universities Staff House with local player Robert Disney taking out the event.

The Backgammon Club met at the WEA from 83-90 until it moved to Newcastle University for 91 and 92.

From 1993-2001 competition was held at the Mattara Hotel, Charlestown.
After the Mattara’s sale the Club settled at Kotara Bowling Club in 2002.

In 2006 the club moved again to Alder Park Bowling Club, within 3 kms of Kotara.

In 2016 the club relocated to Club Charlestown.

The 2021 year began at Shortland Public School's Library as Club Charlestown's Covid restrictions make it hard for matches to be played.

Backgammon in the late 80’s – early 90’s was strong all over the East coast of Australia with big money tournaments ($10,000 prize pools) conducted every couple of months. The clubs that conducted these tournaments unfortunately fell away when sponsorship dwindled and the entry fees became too much for the ordinary player.

It is therefore a credit to the Newcastle Club that it has passed the 35-year mark and still conducts an annual Open Tournament.

The secret to this success has been smaller entry fees, 100% return of entry money to make up prize money and a change in format from knock out to round robin qualifiers into a knockout Top 8.

The popularity of the new format can be seen from last year’s entries with players from Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane joining our regular Sydney visitors.

Newcastle Backgammon Club has never had many big overheads, which has enabled entry fees for the normal Club Championship nights to be held to a minimum.

The Club Championship has been a keenly sort after Trophy for the life of the competition but by far the King on the Club in terms of wins has been Tony Walker whose name adorns the Championship plaque 17 times since he joined the Club in 1985.

We also pride ourselves on having had, at different times, a strong junior competition with a separate Junior (under 18) Championship and Tournament being conducted when the number of entrants are viable. 2009 was the first time for quite a while that we had no Junior players.

While player numbers have fallen away since it’s highs (41 in 1991) the Club still has a hardcore membership of players who are more than prepared to educate newer players in the intricacies of Backgammon. 2007 saw a resurgence in participation, with a strong 16 player average per night throughout the year and 31 people attending at least 1 night.

While not a difficult game to learn (Ludo and Trouble etc are basically easy forms of Backgammon) Backgammon has some little nuances that a lot of players still mishandle after years of play.

Club nights are normally every 2 weeks with the first two nights dedicated to social play, giving new players (and possibly some of the “older brigade”) a chance to come along and get a feel for the game. See this year's dates via this link

Enquiries can be directed to Robert Disney via email.


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