By trade, Tony is an IT manager who has been working in healthcare in various roles since the turn of the century. Before that, he was a professional programmer in financial systems, and nowadays keeps those skills alive by writing websites for the backgammon community.
Tony started playing backgammon against computers before engines based on neural nets had emerged, and consequently deceived himself into thinking he was rather good at the game. Programs such as JellyFish and Snowie turned that on its head, but he could find no definitive answer as to which was better.
He wrote a program called Dueller that would play these programs (and later, gnubg and Frank Berger’s BGBlitz) against each other by synthesising mouse and keyboard actions and working out the moves by screen scraping. You could pick your combatants and match parameters, leave them playing each other overnight, and in the morning you would have hundreds of match files and results to look at.
Dueller caught the attention of Douglas Zare and Walter Trice, who were working on a backgammon engine of their own, and Tony worked with them on various aspects of their project, though he doesn’t believe a commercial product came out of it.
Tony is generally known for his web sites that aggregate and present backgammon results. It started when he set up his first backgammon society at the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 2005. Tony had been playing on FIBS since the mid ’90s and liked their Elo ratings implementation, so he simply copied that, also keeping a record of the matches played, so that people could verify by hand that their ratings were being accurately and fairly computed. He added further features from time to time, and the technology was later taken up by the fledgling UK Backgammon Federation (UKBGF) as its solution to its mission of establishing a national ratings platform.
Between the live and online versions of the site, over 150,000 results have been recorded for the UKBGF. Versions of the site are now also used by the Australian and World Backgammon federations.
Currently, Tony is working on building a version of his site to host all of the Backgammon Masters Awarding Body (BMAB) matches and results. This is exciting because it will be incorporating thousands of recorded matches, in the form of analysed XG files, from the top players in the world. As with ratings before it, computations of BMAB titles will become completely transparent and independently verifiable.
Next up will be a similar aggregation of results for the World Backgammon Internet Federation (WBIF). The ultimate vision is to unify WBGF, BMAB, and WBIF results, with XG files and tournament bracket details if available, to form a complete picture of the most important tournament backgammon matches in the world.
Tony has served the UKBGF as either an elected or co-opted board member since its inception, and still runs the MCC Backgammon Society. He coordinates a league between a group of London clubs and is co-TD of the UKBGF National Online League, which has over 370 participants. Tony was born in London and now lives in London UK, but he has also lived in Cambridge UK and Rochester Minnesota. He is married, with a son who is now 22.