Frank Charney's Sunday Postcard
December 9, 2007
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.
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.