Frank Charney

Frank Charney's Sunday Postcard

A surprising gamesman

I haven't played backgammon competitively for years, but long ago had a strong interest in the game. During that period, I joined a Washington DC area club called the Beltway Backgammon Club, a club consisting of the DC area's strong, intermediate, and novice players. (I like to think that I reached the rank as an intermediate player.) The club met bi-monthly on two Sunday afternoons. During these tournaments a novice player could face a superior player and sometimes manage to beat him because of better dice rolls, the luck factor of the game. After paying his entry fee, a player continued to play until he was eliminated or shared in the pool of money collected from the entry fees. Backgammon is considered a game of skill and not strictly a game of chance.

At the time I became a member, an elderly gentleman, older than most of the regular players, attended these Sunday tournaments religiously. Like myself, he enjoyed the action and excitement that backgammon can stir up in a player when played for minor stakes. The elderly gentleman and myself were often pitted against one another.

I still subscribe to a backgammon subscription in order to keep up with the national and international happenings of the game - who are the ranking players, where the big tournaments are, and the mathematical aspects.

In my latest subscription, it was reported that this gentleman was a revered backgammon player named Mr. Pat M. Holt of Arlington, who passed away in late September at the age of 87. It stated he was a foreign policy expert for the U.S. Senate. Knowing little about his background, I "Googled" him and discovered that he was a leading authority on American foreign policy from the failed "Bay of Pigs" invasion to other events that shaped our country's standing in the world. During his retirement years, Mr. Pat Holt was a columnist for the Christian Science Monitor. For background information about him see

I find it interesting that a Mr. Holt, an authority on America's foreign policy, took up backgammon as a hobby in later life. He must have found a relationship comparing a player across from him at the gaming table to foreign adversaries that challenge the United States.

— Frank Charney

This day in history

1854: Munster Township incorporates.

1886: St. Francis College fire.

1907: Christmas Seals were first sold to raise money to fight tuberculosis.

1932: Jockey Bill Hartack, 5-time Kentucky Derby winner, is born in Blacklick Township.

1941: China declared war on Japan, Germany, Italy.

1926: The cornerstone was placed in the Big Bend United Brethren Church in Twin Rocks.

1996: Archaeologist and anthropologist Mary Leakey died in Kenya at age 83.

Funny bones

Born and raised into Boston aristocracy, the traveler always felt it his duty to correct the language of those around him. In line at an airline counter in Atlanta, an unintelligible rush of language, dialect, and other jargon confronted him. Thoroughly confused, he didn't know where to start the inevitable criticism. Finally, in exasperation, he observed, "I do wish you southerners would speak English."

"We do," the woman behind the counter said.

"Well it's not the King's English," he protested.

"Sure it is," the woman responded. "Elvis was a southerner."


Pre-Christmas snow video
The Skimhallo Gang
Jackson Township gives $20k check to NTAMHS
Valley video page updated

Complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonal articles

Today's chuckle

Never trust a skinny cook.

Thought for today

Those who do not hear the music think the dancers mad.

— African proverb

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