Eva Bitel AM
My husband, Ivor, and I were taught to play backgammon by an American exchange Fellow at Sydney Hospital where I worked. Both of us loving games we were hooked immediately. We played in the 1960s at the Pater Noster Club, dressed for dinner and then played. From there it was all downhill. Bernie McFadden ran several clubs over the next few years and tournaments were arranged by Jonathan Simmons at his and Katherine’s home (beware the two huge hounds!). Tournaments were run in Vanuatu and at Falls Creek, all well attended by players from Victoria and NSW. Ivor and I ran a club on Monday nights for several years in the 1970’s at Castle Cove. I ran a yearly charity tourney for Operation Wheelchairs in our home with a sumptuous repast that those of you who came will remember. Eventually our work and two children made it impossible to continue running the club and it was taken over by the Marczaks, but it did not survive. We also played in the J&B tournaments at the Hyatt, Ivor was runner up one year and we scored a trip to the Internationals in Monte Carlo. Over the years I think Ivor won more than I did, he was the Newcastle winner once and to my delight I was runner-up at that tournament last year (2016). I look forward to leading the Australian Backgammon Federation and the revitalisation of the game.
Treasurer & Public Officer
Like many, I started playing backgammon in the late 1970s. I was taught and mentored by my good friend Ivan Havas until I was able to stand on my own two feet. We played 2-3 times each week for the next several years with other market stall holders (as an additional income stream) as well as in various local competitions and tournaments.
Somehow life got in the way of backgammon, and I dropped out of the scene for 30 odd years. I resurfaced in late 2014 joining the Castle Hill RSL Backgammon Club, the Persian Rose Backgammon Club more recently The Sydney Backgammoners.
After the 30 year absence from the game I have learned three important things. The first is how much the game has changed with the advent of the computer bots. The second was how much I had forgotten over time. The biggest revelation however was how much I never knew in the first place. So here I am, back at school, and loving it.
I was taught how to play backgammon in the mid-80s by my then girlfriend and now wife of over 30 years, Aileen. I loved the combination of skill and luck involved. We only rarely play now, but every time we do she beats me easily – I call it lucky dice! We were living in Melbourne after we married and started playing at the BAV in their premises in North Melbourne. Some time soon after returning to Canberra in 1987 we realised that there was a Club in Canberra that met at The Shanty, a pub owned by John Press. The Club had used a number of venues before that time, including The Hellenic Club. I have been organising the tournaments since not long after starting to play there – nearly 30 years. After The Shanty closed (more profit from converting the basement space to car parking!), we moved to The Civic Pub, and then Café Pronto just up the road in Braddon before moving to our current venue, King O’Malleys in the City proper. Some things haven’t changed since days at The Shanty – it still costs $5 to enter a tournament – but the Chouette has gone from $1 a point to $2 a point (although that change was possibly 15 years ago!!). Both Aileen and I qualified to play in the Australian Championships held at the Hilton Hotel in Melbourne. We have played in Eva and Ivor’s Operation Wheelchair tournaments and I have played at the Newcastle tournaments a number of times. I have also played online, mostly on FIBS (First Internet Backgammon Server) where I have been “snowflake” since 1995. I have played in online tournaments organised by David Escoffery (USA) and Simon Woodhead (Australia) with some success (but mostly unlucky losses).
I became interested in backgammon when I was 6 years old and started to play with family members when I was 9 years old (Persian rules).
In 1988 I attended a tournament in Australia for first time, which was organised by Ivor Bitel at the Vaucluse Bowling Club. It was, in fact, Ivor who introduced me to western rules and how to the use the cube. I stopped playing backgammon from 1998 till 2003 while finishing my Masters of Architecture at Sydney University.
Since 2003 I have been playing more and more and I love the game very much.
I am very grateful to have the Persian Rose Backgammon Club to share with all backgammon lovers.
I first learnt to play backgammon in my twenties. I discovered a game that would stay with me for a lifetime. To say Backgammon is my passion is an understatement. After playing Backgammon for roughly 15 years, I decided to devote time to improving my game. I soon found that I enjoyed studying the game just as much as I did playing. I have had my fair share of success in Australia and overseas. When I look back throughout my playing career, it is the friendships that I have made that put a smile on my face. Wins and losses come and go…friends last a lifetime. I am privileged and proud to be part of such a passionate team.