Australia New Zealand Challenge Finals


The final has just been run and the results are in – after 112 matches:

Congratulations to our top three. A great effort and a great Aussie result.

1st Place – Robert Disney (Newcastle)

2nd Place – Hossein Haydari (Adelaide)

3rd Place – Steve Clarry (Sydney)


Well done to all and thank you for taking part – your feedback on how this has gone is more than welcome – all comments taken on board!

Greg and AJ

Message from ABF President, Greg Ash

As we roll into 2020 it seems that the Board of the Australian Backgammon Federation Inc can now move forward with more certainty. I would like to thank members for their patience during this process and thank and congratulate all who have put their hands up to fill the various Board positions. The full roster of Board members should be available via the website.

Firstly, we should acknowledge the tremendous sadness felt at the passing of Founding President, Eva Bitel. Her considerable efforts at getting us to share her vision for Australian backgammon have led us to where we are today, and provide an inspiration and springboard for efforts to move forward. In accepting the role of incoming President, I am fully aware of the big shoes I have to fill.

Thanks also to outgoing Board members for their work – in particular, I would like to single out Simon Woodhead who is going to be busy doing other BG things but is still willing to help out on the technical side. Simon was instrumental in getting us on board with our own version of the UK BGF ratings scheme and I firmly believe that this is our most significant achievement to date.

I have some ideas for the kind of things we as a national body should be doing to improve the lot of ordinary members and member clubs – I will be putting those thoughts to the Board, and once they have had an opportunity to dissect, embellish and refine those ideas, I would like to put those ideas out to the membership to see where you think the priorities for us should lie. We have a very modest budget, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do some innovative things to promote backgammon.

I will be asking the Board to “meet” more often than it has in the past and I commit to making some communication from those meetings available to members in a timely fashion (this is not a criticism of past practice, more a reflection of the way I like to operate!).

Dr Greg Ash

President, AusBGF

31 January 2020

AGM for Australian Backgammon Federation 23rd November, 2019

Venue: Persian Rose Restaurant, Turramrra. 

In the absence of the President and Vice President, John Symon welcomed attendees to the meeting


Simon Woodhead, Carol Wakelin, Ian Dunstan, Taeed Athari, Michael Dyett, John Symon


Eva Bitel, Greg Ash, David Kinston

Minutes of the previous AGM were confirmed and accepet. Nominated by Mick Dyett, seconded Taeed Athari

President’s Report was not available due to the ill health of the President, Eva Bitel

Treasurer’s Report confirmed cash in bank being $4,224.27, and increase of $879.00 on the last year. The treasurer also confirmed the membership numbers as 6 affiliated clubs and 79 individual members

Resignations and Election of office holders:

Eva Bitel resigned from the presidency and the board, Carol Wakelin resigned as secretary, Simon Woodhead resigned from the board but will continue in a technical support role.

Greg Ash was nominated by Simon Woodhead as the New President, and was seconded by John Symon. Greg has accepted.

Ian Dunstan was nominated as Secretary, seconded by Mick Dyett. Ian accepted.

John Symon was nominated as Treasurer and Public officer, seconded by Taeed Athari. John accepted.

Michael Dyett was nominated to the board by Taeed Athari, seconded by John Symon, David Kinston was nominated by Michael Dyett, seconded Carol Wakelin, Taeed Athari was nominated by Michael Dyett, seconded by Ian Dunstan

Changing the venue for the 2020 Australian Open was discussed, and it was decided that Queensland should hold the next Open, and, after the well run and successful running of the  Queensland Open and Masters this year, the 2020 Australian Open will be organised, promoted and run by Simon Woodhead and Steve Roberts

The Future of the Australian Backgammon Federation was the next topic for discussion. Simon Woodhead suggestion that a regular newsletter, monthly or quarterly should be circulated to all members highlighting a national calendar of upcoming events, results from tournaments  and any other information relating to backgammon generally, and in particular the Australian backgammon scene. Simon suggested that Shane McNally should be approached to undertake the newsletter duties. It was also suggested that promoting tournaments will make backgammon more inclusive. Further, Mick Dyett volunteered to contact Grant Hoffman to ask whether syndication of Grants “Position of the Week” via the ABF was an option. Ian Dunstan will approach “Fergus” whether the online doubles tournament software which Fergus uses could be made available to the ABF for a forum to discuss the “positions of the week”

Under the heading of Any Other Business, it was noted that the ABF Facebook Page and associated mail is still being controlled by Gemma Purves and that Eva would ask Gemma to surrender any log-ins and passwords to the ABF. The invitation by Bernhard Mayr on behalf of the WBIF to organise and supervise an Australian involvement was discussed and agreed that at this stage it was not a practical option. John Symon to reply to Bernhard

The meeting was closed at 8.55am.











Eva Bitel. May She Rest In Peace.

The Australian Backgammon community today lost one of its hardest working and dedicated advocates with the death of Eva Bitel.

Eva and her late husband Ivor have been an integral part of Backgammon in Australia for over 40 years and both did all they could to promote the game and attract new players to a game they were both passionate about.

At the time of her passing, Eva had just recently retired as President of the Australian Backgammon Federation, which had enjoyed a revival under her stewardship .

She will be sadly missed by not only the backgammon family, the medical fraternity that she had been an active member of, and the bridge community, but also by so many others from all walks of life who came in contact with this wonderful warm, caring, intelligent, fierce and funny lady.

Our lives are richer for having known her.


2019 Australian Open and Masters Results

The 2019 Australian Backgammon Championships and Master’s was played over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th November.

34 players competed for the National Championship. There were players from New Zealand, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Newcastle and of course Sydney. The venue for the tournament was The Persian Rose Restaurant in Turramurra.

The format for the Open was Round Robin with the top two players from each group advancing to a 16-player knockout.

As is normally the case before such a big tournament there was much excitement in the room as players anticipated winning Australia’s most coveted Backgammon Competition and becoming the 2019 Australian Champion.

The Games began at 10 am. By mid-afternoon the Round Robin brawling had stopped and there were 16 players left standing. The rest were …well…defeated. It was time for the knockout, sudden death where insanity can be just one roll away, (this game is not for the feint hearted). After two rounds and 12 deaths we had four survivors. These Gladiators were Greg Mitchell from Newcastle, Habib Shalala from Sydney, Martin Sargadian also from Sydney and Pat Halpin from the Central Coast.

Martin Sargadian and Pat Halpin

Habib Shalal and Greg Mitchell

Greg overpowered Habib while Martin outmuscled Pat. The scene was set for a blockbuster match between two very fine players. They certainly did not disappoint the crowds as they fought a long and very exciting match, their experience was evident in their play. The match was very tight with Greg Mitchell coming out the victor. Congratulations Greg, you are the 2019 Australian Champion and congratulations to Runner Up Martin for putting up a hell of a fight.

The 2019 Australian Champion,                                                            and the Runner-Up

Next up was the Master’s with 11 players competing. The format was knockout with five byes in the first round. After two rounds we got the Semi-finals. The match-ups were Zvi Bendavid against Habib Shalala and Ian Dunstan playing Ron Shaked. Both these matches were very close with Habib defeating Zvi while Ian took care of Ron. Both Habib and Ian are very seasoned players. The match reached 6 away 6 away when Habib found a backgammon on a two cube to finish Ian off. A big congrats to the Masters Champion Habib and to runner up Ian.

2019 Masters Champion Habib Shalala, being congratulated by Taeed ,

And on his way to a close second, Ian Dunstan .

There are some people that deserve a big thank you or making the weekend a huge success. In no particular order, a big thanks to Taeed Athari who has made The Persian Rose Restaurant home to the Australian Open and New South Wales Open for many years without cost. Thankyou also goes to Zvi Bendavid who has donated all trophies for both these tournaments, and has done so for many years. The kind generosity from both these wonderful men has enabled me to return all entry fees as prize money. And last but not least I thank my wife Sharne Dyett for her selfless engagement in running these tournaments while I play. If not for her I would be unable to lose as often as I do. (thanks honey).

All in all, everyone I spoke to had a ball and look forward to next year.

Mick Dyett.

2019 Spring Backgammon Tournament

Sunday October 6 th saw the 2 nd Sydney Open Backgammon Tournament being held at the Canada Bay Club in Five
Twenty three players attended, slightly less than last year , but a combination of school holidays, the NRL grand final ,
a long weekend and the start of daylight saving time may have all contributed to this, and these factors will be taken
into consideration when picking next year's date.
All players competed in the first round with the top 12 after 3 rounds going on to compete for the main prize and the
remainder participating in a second flight tournament .
All matches were to 7 points, with two being played before the lunch break and last match of the 1 st flight and all 3 of
the two second flight matches taking place over the afternoon and early evening.
Arthur Ramer was the eventual victor taking home not only the Main flight prize money and a beautiful crystal
doubling cube, but also an entry to a $1000 satellite tournament in the upcoming Melbourne tournament – thanks to
Ralph Burd for supporting us in this way – your generosity is very much appreciated.
Robbie Solomon picked up 2 nd place and also the side pool as he was the top-placing player of the five who entered.
Ron Shaked took out the main flight consolation prize
Kee Yio Wan won the Second flight tournament
Mahnaz Rostami took home the Second flight consolation prize.
Thank you all for your support and we hope to see you all again next year .



The 2019 Newcastle Open




The 2019 Newcastle Open had a “back to the future” feel after the two finalists were decided on Sunday, September 15th.
25 players lined up at Club Charlestown’s Patricia Room to contest the Open, divided into 7 round robin groups of 3 (playing 9 point matches) and a group of 4 (to 7 points). Whilst the large amount of 3 player groups is not ideal (as there are always 7 players “sitting out”), it does make it easy to decided the final 8 as all group winners went through to the knockout final.
Visiting players included Simon Woodhead (Qld), Greg Ash and David
Berry(Canberra) and amongst the Sydney players to attend were Taeed Athari, from the Persian Rose at Turramurra and Carol Wakelin and Ben Phillips who were able to attend after recent overseas trips. Kyle Rhoades played his first tournament after recently becoming a member of NBC and Chris Belton graced us with his presence after a 7 year absence.

To say Newcastle was well represented in the Final would be an understatement. 7 of the 8 positions was filled by locals with the odd man out being Ben Phillips who was looking to repeat his 2017 Championship win. Unfortunately for Ben he was drawn against Mick Dyett in the first round of the knockout and went out 7-2.
The Final came down to a clash of previous Newcastle Open winners, Dave Bower and Robert Disney. Whilst both being previous winners it had been a long time between drinks as Dave had won the 1994 edition and Robert, as the Honour Roll page shows, won the inaugural tournament in 1984!!
The match was evenly fought as the lead chopped and changed until it got to 5-5. Dave needed to avoid a double 4 or double 5 to save a gammon but the 4’s appeared and then his match point game backgame was thwarted by a timely 6-6 to end Robert’s 35 year win drought of Newcastle Open.

The Consolation Tournament, for those who didn’t make the Final, was won by Simon Woodhead (a slight payback for Michelle and Greg’s victories at the Queensland Championships last month) over David Berry.

Newcastle Backgammon Club would like to thank all those who travelled to play this year, Club Charlestown for their hosting of the event and the Australian Backgammon Federation for sponsorship of the Trophies.

The 2019 Queensland Backgammon Championships

While the wind blew down south, the weather was cool but sunny on the
Gold Coast for the 2019 Queensland Backgammon Championships held at the
Surfers Paradise SLSC on the Gold Coast.

44 players attended over the weekend, plus 4 novices. Half a dozen
players were stranded in Sydney and Canberra due to the extreme weather.
This took many top contenders out of the equation, including the likes
of Ian Dunstan, Jim Bean and John Symon.

Friday night saw around 25 players turn up, eager for a go at
Speedgammon. We expected to fill a total field of 16, or maybe 32 in
this tournament, but on Friday alone we filled 32. So Speedgammon
quickly became a 64 field. We also ran two satellites for the Masters,
won by Peter Brown and Steve Roberts.

Saturday arrived and the rest of the field turned up and the Open was
quickly under way, filling up by early afternoon. The Masters was held
to a field of 16, with Speedgammon still popular and the Last Chance
tournament now taking entries. Backgammon was played well into the
evening with rounds progressing in all tournaments.

On Sunday, we had a few spots left in the Speedgammon and Last Chance
which the perennial desperadoes soon filled. So we came to the money
rounds and the tension in the room heightened as people gathered around
to watch the lucky/skilful few battle it out for the major prizes.
Incredibly (well, it was all planned this way of course!) we were dead
on time, with all 4 finals under way at the same time, and all
completing shortly after the advertised time of 6PM.

The Open quarter finals saw Steve Clarry defeat Hossein Haydari, Simon
Ustick was incredibly lucky to overcome partner Maricar, who should
probably file for immediate divorce after what Simon did to her! In the
bottom half, Melbourne’s Steve Quinn overcame Barry Ross, and Taeed
Athari from the Persian Rose pipped Bill Marczak to the post in a
marathon. It was to be Melbourne’s final when Uey beat Steve Clarry and
Steve Quinn beat Taeed. Congratulations to Steve Quinn who showed not
only skill but serious stamina after 3 days of playing.

The Masters was limited to 16 players and was keenly fought at every
round. Ivo Zarnic from New Zealand made it to a semi-final date with
Newcastle’s Michelle Taubman who had dismissed Peter Sun and Steve
Roberts (both past Australian champions!) as if they were novices. The
bottom half of the draw saw one of the match-ups of the weekend with
young experts Martin Sagradian and Hossein Haydari caught in a
down-to-the-wire battle that Hossein eventually won. Michelle was not to
be denied, it was destined to be her weekend. In a see-saw battle that
could have gone either way for much of the match, Michelle kept her
cool, playing superbly to claim her title of Queensland Masters
Champion. A well deserved reward for all her hard work behind the scenes
as well as over the table.

The success of the weekend was the Speedgammon tournament, which filled
64 places and everyone took to like ducks to water. People who’ve never
played with clocks, let alone under the pressures of speedgammon
settings, just couldn’t get enough. I hope we’ll be seeing speedgammon
events appear in other tournaments around the country. The top 32 of the
draw had been played on Friday, with Adelaide’s Shane McNally and the
Gold Coast’s Vince Turner reaching the semi. Shane beat Vince sometime
during Saturday, allowing Vince a last chance to re-enter – he bought in
at position 58. Then won all the way through again, beating Simon
Woodhead (aaarggh!) in the semi for another match-up with Shane but this
time in the final. It was to be Vince’s day, he was truly inVincible at

The Last Chance tournament sent another trophy Newcastle’s way for Greg
Mitchell who patiently waited while we caught the tournament up. Dave
Berry from Canberra eventually won through to the final but Greg’s
patience was rewarded with the winners trophy.

Four lovely ladies turned up for the Novice tournament, with Olga
Sagradian winning from local Miranda Miranda on countback in a
round-robin format.

The major prize in the raffle was won by local Zoe Anghel Richmond, who
also had a good run in the Open, winning her first two rounds. She now
has Michy’s excellent new backgammon books to cement her game in solid

Thanks to everyone who came, especially thanks to those who booked and
were denied by the weather. Next year – bigger and better! Thanks to our
venue sponsor the Surfer Paradise SLSC Nippers, to our trophy sponsor
George Beyreuthi from FS Securities and to Barb, Margie, Denise and
Maria for their tireless and invaluable work on the desk. Thanks to
Taeed Athari for bringing his wonderful Persian Rose boards all the way
up from Sydney, as did Rob Disney with the Newcastle boards. Special
thanks also to Moya Holmes of the Nippers, who liaised with the venue
and made sure that everything ran smoothly for us. None of this would
have happened without all of you – we sincerely thank you 🙂

You can see completed draw sheets by clicking on the tournament names

Keep following the facebook page for pics from this year and updates for
next year:

Until next year, happy rolling from Steve Roberts and Simon Woodhead
August 2019, Gold Coast, Queensland