Monday, 5 February 2018

Where and when

Dear BikeGammoners,

Here's the itinerary for our 2018 'Close To Home' motorcycle and backgammon peregrination:

When: Thursday 19th April - Monday 23rd April 2018


Thursday: Maidstone
The White Rabbit (hover/click for website)
Sandling Road, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 2RF
£75.95 B&B

Friday: Winchester
Paternoster Row, Winchester, SO23 9LQ 
£105.00 B&B

Saturday: Eastbourne
King Edwards Parade Eastbourne BN21 4EB
£76.01 B&B

Sunday: Epsom
2-4 St Margaret Drive, Off Dorking Road, Surrey KT18 7LB
£47.00 Bed Only

I have booked five rooms in these hotels as described. They are assigned to the rider/players who have currently paid their deposits (BGBoy, Biddle of the Board, The Newbie, LenLenLen and Christian**).

Please note the following
* I will assume you each are taking these rooms and accept responsibility for payment for them - unless I hear from you before April 1st when I can still cancel your booking.

* There is no obligation to stay in the hotel that others are staying in. Feel free to book a place of your own nearby. Bear in mind, however, that these places may be the centres for backgammon play and eating and drinking. But they may not be.

* Players enrolling from this point are responsible for their own room bookings.

* Anyone who wishes to, can bolt for home on Sunday evening - but the final night celebration is part of the ethos.

* Please arrive at The White Rabbit on Thursday evening at 5.30 pm for 6.00. (Anyone making jokes about pulling things out of hats stands a round.)

* I have the routes planned and will be leading the rides.

* If you're still considering whether to join us, please let me know ASAP. B.o.t.B. needs to know numbers to concoct a playing regime.

* To commit, pay £50.00 deposit (email me for details) and then confirm to me that you have.

* Also, know this: when your time comes, you will want to tell those gathered at your bedside that, yes, you were a BikeGammoner and life has been good!

** It is now traditional for BikeGammon players to be assigned a nickname by the organiser. Christian, I think I've decided your name is exotic enough as it stands. It conjures up Pilgrim's Progress. This is apt. Len, I reserve the right to amend yours.

'On motorbikes from Germany, The U.S. and Japan

They rode into the Continent, a gladiator band

To vie in competition, for they were in accord

BG Boy, The Newbie and Biddle of the Board...'

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

BikeGammon 2018 - Be part of history

BikeGammon is a backgammon tournament played in a series of venues over one weekend. The mode of travel between the venues is motorbike.

To be eligible to enter, you must be able to play backgammon and travel by motorbike.

When: Thursday 19th April - Monday 23rd April 2018*
Where: Southern England

We'll meet on the south coast - within an hour or so of London - and play the first round of matches there.
We'll travel on carefully selected, biking-friendly roads, never overreaching ourselves in terms of distance, and play subsequent matches on the evenings of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The backgammon will be organised by Dicky Biddle of North London Backgammon renown. The rest will be organised by me - Simon Hopper.
The winner will hold the Magnificent BikeGammon trophy for one year.
Simon 'BG Boy' Hopper receiving the 2017 Magnificent BikeGammon Trophy
This trophy attracts beautiful lovers, enhances your charisma, bolsters your libido and generally burnishes your otherwise ordinary life.**
This is year two. There may be a year three, four, five and so on. Let's see.
NUMBERS: Entrants are limited to 8. First-come first-served.
PRIZE MONEY: There may be optional side-pools arranged at the time.
ROUTES, VENUES, TOURNAMENT DETAILS: will be finalised in good time - watch this space. Accommodation will tend towards the budget end of the spectrum.
DEPOSIT: A deposit of £50.00 secures a place: send your contact details to and I'll let you have payment info. Deposits are refundable if the event does not take place or if a replacement is found in an otherwise fully subscribed event.
Well, you're only young once!
*(Those who wish/need to will be able to return to their 'normal' lives early on Monday.)
**( Some of these claims may be untrue.)

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Ballad of BikeGammon '17 (unfinished)

On motorbikes from Germany, The U.S. and Japan
They rode into the Continent, a gladiator band
To vie in competition, for they were in accord
BG Boy, The Newbie and Biddle of the Board

The Newbie (Philip Nicolas)

The Newbie was the tyro, the younger of the three
He travelled with the others for to listen and to see
To learn, to battle-harden; he was not overawed
To stand his ground with BG Boy and Biddle of the Board

Biddle of the Board ('Dicky' Biddle)

Biddle's bike wore shining chrome, you knew when he'd arrived
He was the senior statesman, his status uncontrived
His was the highest rating – a certain source of joy
Now Newbie was his advers'ry – along with BG Boy

BG Boy (Simon Hopper)

The last one loved a contest; he came from Bethnal Green
And was convener of this trial such as had not been seen
He threw down a gauntlet - for a contest he adored -
To prick the pride of Newbie and Biddle of the Board

In Escalles and Valenciennnes, to Rouen, then to Ghent
The city streets resounded to their conflict as they went
No quarter sought or given as their battle-cry they roared
BG Boy, The Newbie and Biddle of the Board

(to be continued...)

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Armentieres, Ypres & Ghent: BikeGammon, day#4

Hopper accepts the trophy from Nicolas

It wasn't dull. A four-day motorcycle ride, two punctures (complete with recovery vehicle dramas), one abandoned Harley, several fabulous examples of French and Belgian cuisine, many lovely country lanes, a couple of motorways, some songs, wine, beer, lots of coffees and six fiercely-fought one vs two backgammon matches later, a winner: unabashed by the thought that it might be considered bad form for the event's founder to to take the trophy, Simon 'BGBoy' Hopper pipped Philip 'Newbie' Nicolas in a 1-point play-off to win the event.

On a gripping final day, the competition climaxed as the tour traversed the poignant territory of WW1's western front playing the final three matches (now extended to 7-pointers).

In Armentieres, Nicolas played a blinder as the noon-day sun warmed the players' al-fresco café table to beat the pre-tournament 'strongest' duo in some style. In future BikeGammon tours he'll keep his nom-de-guerre of 'Newbie', but we now know it's simply not appropriate.

Armentieres: Nicolas and Hopper, WW1-stylee

Competition Score
Hopper 4
Nicolas 3
Biddle 1

Ypres: (l-r) Hopper, Nicolas, Biddle

In Ypres, Hopper played solo knowing he needed to win to clinch the tournament. He didn't make it.

Biddle and Nicolas survived his potential backgammon/match/tournament-winning roll (four two-point checkers left, two enemy checkers remaining in his inner board, one-double-needed-but-not-obtained), to roll a 55 of their own to win a gammon on a two-cube and take the match.

Competition Score 
Hopper 4
Nicolas 4
Biddle 2

In Ghent, Biddle now knew he needed to beat the opposing pair, win two points, equalise the scores and take the competition to a three-way, one-point play-off. One earlier-than-theory-would-endorse gammoned double, however, made that task a bridge too far.

It would have been tough to come back from four down in a seven-pointer against two competition-seasoned opponents, but a series of fortunate doubles rendered 'Biddle of the Board' a spectator and the duo took the points.

Competition Score
Hopper 5
Nicolas 5
Biddle 2

With two players tied, the competition rules required a one-point play-off. It was Hopper v Nicolas. 'BGBoy' got the rolls and collected the trophy from his opponent.

There had to be a winner, but it really was a case of the taking part mattering most and the main topic of conversation on the morning after was where and when the second annual BikeGammon event would take place.

Well done to Dicky Biddle for running a great tournament and to Philip Nicolas for playing a blinder and demonstrating what a fine competitor he's developing into. The event was born of Hopper's fevered imagination. Whether that warrants congratulations is for others to decide! ;)

We were a new team, but we formed, stormed, normed and performed (he knew a thing or two did that Tuckman). And it was good.

Hmmm; BikeGammon 2018. Now there's a thought.

You coming?

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Valenciennes: BikeGammon day#3

In the last, thrilling 17-pointer, the consulting duo of Nicolas/Hopper came back from 2 : 7 down to beat Biddle of the Board, 17 : 11 with Newbie Nicolas giving the lie to his nickname by authoritively steering the duo home courtesy of a doubled 2-cube.

Hopper 4
Biddle 1
Nicolas 1

Can BGBoy get over the line? Can Newbie nix him?! Can B.o.t.B. beat him to it?!

Who knows? Find out exclusively here!!

... is just plain careless.

Didn't matter how much they wanted to, the bike won't be ready before Tuesday, earliest. :(

Mr. 'I'm no little biker chick' Biddle had to ride pillion, wearing a Harley jacket - on a Honda. Oh, oh, the ignominy!

And worse was to follow...

Once is unlucky, twice...

Dicky's turn...