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It's a New Year; Let's do Something New

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Friday, 18 December 2015, at 11:04 p.m.

In Response To: It's a New Year; Let's do Something New (Bob Koca)

On line play is great for the game, just as on line poker did much to raise the popularity of that game. But I believe the goal is to make backgammon a more popular game; get more people coming to tournaments and playing live is one way to make that happen. It's also needed if we are to draw sponsors and eventually bigger bucks, like Poker, for example, so that we can create buzz about backgammon and keep people like Gus and Sander and others who are great backgammon players playing BG instead of poker. And there are dozens of other great backgammon players doing other things because there simply isn't enough money in backgammon.

And it's not just about money. Look at bridge, that offers no money except to the pros. It's not unusual for them to get 4,000 people to their US nationals and most of those people are simply competing for points and status.

Is it "important" to get more people playing live? It's important to the game of backgammon and the future and growth of the game. It's not as important as making your kid's birthday party. Everything is relative.

But I am glad to see that some people have read through this stream and responded...it means people are thinking about these issues, and that's the first step. Even if tournament participation were growing, we need to keep thinking about ways to make the game bigger and better.

Igor said tournaments cost a lot but he doesn't see any way to fix that. I agree they cost a lot, but we can fix that many ways, especially for novice and intermediates...the game doesn't have to be as much about money except for the Open players, and even there, graduated side pools might help. And in all cases, more participants make for a bigger pot and potentially more sponsors.

Maybe we need to subsidize "first-timers" and new players by giving them lower entry fees, just as many local clubs do. I started a program in Chicago years ago where a first-timer plays free, and now it is club policy. Will this get more first-timers to come? Maybe not, but they sure feel more welcomed. Maybe the first year you play you get a 20 percent discount? There are many ways to reduce costs and still make it profitable for the tournament organizers. We need to be creative and proactive and again, not just keep doing what we have always done simply because we have always done it that way. And again, maybe we "try" some of these ideas at a few tournaments and see what happens.

When there is a tournament in a given city, how much advertising and promotion have we done to make sure all backgammon players in the area even know about the tournament? Are we using the on-line servers and meetup groups to make sure they even know about the tournament. Are we putting up notices and ads in places where potential players can find out about the tournament. Are we encouraging newcommers to attend by telling them there will be free seminars, free coaching, hospitality, and they can learn in a friendly atmosphere (instead of having to enter a two-day, all-day event to play a game they hardly know)?

There are so many things we haven't been doing and haven't been trying. It starts here, by talking about it and recognizing the need and the possibilities, and then getting the leaders of the tournaments and federations to start organizing and taking action. Again, it's not all about spending money...it's about implementing ideas with the many volunteers we have and helping arm those volunteers with ideas and strategies and support to go out into their local communities and bring in new players. And of course, rewarding those volunteers with recognition and thanks is also important

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