It’s very hard starting a backgammon club, and you will need patience, at least two backgammon players, and a lot of help. First of all find a venue to play at, preferably with a bar for light refreshments! Most pubs have a spare room especially midweek.
Lincoln Backgammon Club meets each Tuesday night at the Liberal Club right in the centre of Lincoln. As members of The Liberal Club we get to use a room free of charge and we even get sandwiches for a very small fee. A lot of pubs will often do a similar deal midweek so shop around. Try and pick one that is easy to get to and offers adequate parking. Also, if you can find one without a juke box use that one — you’ll never regret it, I promise.
How Do I Tell Everyone About It?
Having found a place to play you’ll need some way of advertising the club. Be certain to give the club a name that identifies it immediately. For example, you must mention “Backgammon,” for as you know, we are all looking out for this magic word!
Make up some eye-catching posters and go around to your local or main library and ask them to display the poster on their “What’s On” or “Local Clubs” board.
Try to get backgammon across in as obvious a way as possible. The best way is to base the poster on a backgammon board. Keep the writing to a minimum and make it large. Remember, your poster will be competing for attention on the board with a lot of other posters so make sure it stands out. While you are at the library also ask them if you can go on their “Hobbies” or “Club” file. All the libraries across the country offer such a facility.
Another thing you can do in the library is a little sneaky but quite effective! Write out some small slips giving details about your club, and place them in all the backgammon books on the shelf! I always put them on page 21 so that I can quickly check if they’ve gone. Mind you, it can be very depressing discovering just how infrequently these books go out!
Isn’t Advertising Expensive?
Publicity as I said, is the most important. Unfortunately advertising is very expensive. However there is one way that is effective and free!
Get in touch with your local free newspaper. You know, the one you always throw away! They’re always interested in local clubs and often have a free “What’s On” section. In addition to this try to get an interview and tell them that you belong to a National Association and that in a few weeks time you’ll be playing again in a major tournament, hoping to become the next BIBA Champion! They normally like that sort of thing; local man does well, etc, etc.
Local Radio Stations and Public Service TV Announcements are another source of free adverts! Write to or telephone them and give them as much information as you can. They might not use it all but they might use some!
The Internet is a great place to let a lot of people know about your club. If you have the web space available then you must have your own web site and then link it to as many other backgammon sites as you can. The Lincoln Backgammon Club web site can be found at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/michael.a.crane/index/index.html. Also, on the Internet, make good use of the news groups. One of the better ones is rec.games.backgammon where you can post messages about your club.
Are There Other Ways To Find Members?
Another way to find members is to poach them! Try the local chess, bridge or scrabble club. You’ll find there is quite a few of them that already play backgammon. You have nothing to lose unless of course they are on the same night!
I’m Ready to Start, What Do I Do Now?
Right, now having got your posters out, the slips in the books, the free newspaper working for you, the web pages are up and running … sit back at your venue and wait! … and wait and wait and wait! You’ll be sitting there for weeks, perhaps, before someone comes along but you must be there. If you are supposed to be there between 7.30pm and 10.00pm then make sure someone is. If anyone does turn up and there is no one there, they most likely will not return.
When you do get members be prepared to teach them how to play, and remember, because you may be a lot better at the game than they are, with the result that they might be put off by just how good you are. They think they’ll never be as good and can feel very intimidated. Take it slowly and build up their confidence. It’ll pay in the end I promise.
We’re Up And Running, Can I Relax Now?
Once the club is up and running the work starts in earnest. Make sure you have a format that will keep the members interested and will keep them coming back week after week. Have an annual championship. Design a format that will appeal to all levels of ability and don’t forget to encourage those players who have yet to gain the experience you might already have.
Lincoln Backgammon Club have had several formats over the years, but, hopefully, for 2001 we’ve struck upon a winner. Checkout the web site and see if it’s a format that might suit your club.
Backgammon nights should be fun nights. Keep things formal and sociable. Don’t stifle members with loads of club rules — try to maintain a balance of serious and fun playing by having the occasional chouette once in a while. Chouettes don’t have to be played for high stakes; they can be great fun playing for just twenty-five pence a point. What they will do will enable the weaker players to learn a lot from the stronger players. It is amazing how many ‘correct’ moves there can be!
Encourage club members to go out and recruit new members; perhaps from their place of work or sports clubs they might belong to. Keep in contact with the library, newspaper, radio, television etc. and make sure they are kept up to date with your club’s activities. If one of your members attends a Biba (or other) tournament and comes home with a trophy, let the media know.
We’ve Done All The Above, What Next?
Above all, enjoy yourself and ensure that others do too. If some players become disheartened and stop attending don’t just ignore them, get in touch and find out why they’ve stopped coming to club nights. Listen to what they have to say and act upon it whenever possible, hopefully getting them back into the fold — or at the very least making adjustments that might ensure other members don’t follow them.