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Women in Backgammon Celebrate the Two Women Being Honored by the U.S. Backgammon Federation Next Month
Karen Davis will join Carol Joy Cole to become the second woman inducted into the American Backgammon Hall of Fame at the U.S.Backgammon Federation Annual Awards Dinner at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on October 9, 2021. Candace Mayeron and Robert Stoller will be awarded a USBGF Lifetime Achievement Award on the same night.
NEW YORK CITY, September 3, 2021. — Karen Davis will join an illustrious group of backgammon greats in receiving the Hall of Fame distinction on October 9, 2021, at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale. In announcing the award, U.S. Backgammon Federation’s president, John Pirner, noted, “Karen’s leadership and passion for organized backgammon is an inspiration for everyone who serves with her. Her greatest legacy to the game is as an organization builder, most notably of the U.S. Backgammon Federation. Without her vision, her passion, and her incredible energy, the USBGF would not exist today. Our community owes her our gratitude.”
In addition to her contribution to the explosion of backgammon’s recent resurgence, Karen is arguably one of the top players in the United States, having won numerous tournaments over the past few years recently representing the U.S. on Team USA in the World Team Championships. She was recently one of 13 players worldwide competing for the Ultimate Backgammon Contender title in Marbella Spain.
“My goal,” Karen said, “is to continue to compete at the top levels of the sport and to bring awareness of the opportunities for women to compete in competitions all over the world. It’s a mind sport, one in which women can excel. Historically, we haven’t had enough women at the table. I hope to see that change as the game gains traction.”
It’s not surprising that Karen continues to strive for more, both for herself and for the game. Her business career, spanning decades in health care and education, brought her recognition from a different hall of fame; she received the Health Care Hall of Fame award in 2019. Karen formerly served as the president of the Commonwealth Fund and deputy assistant secretary of health policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where as an economist she had a lasting influence in how economic tools are applied to health care. She was the first woman to head a Public Health Service agency in its 200-year history. After her government career she was the first woman to chair a department at Johns Hopkins University. Now a professor emerita at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Davis continues to explore ways to improve Medicare and Medicaid to improve access to care and patient health outcomes.
Asked if there is a connection between her expertise in math, science, and backgammon, Karen responded, “I’m sure there is. Numbers. Science. Putting the puzzle of strategy and probability together is second nature to me.”
On the same evening, Candace Mayeron will receive the coveted USBGF Lifetime Achievement Award. Candace has been playing since the Seventies. In the last few years she has been instrumental in providing the backgammon archives with memorabilia, thereby cementing the game’s history for future generations. She also produces the Los Angeles Open and California State Championship tournaments, two of the most prestigious and well-attended tournaments on the circuit.
“I am humbled and grateful for this acknowledgement of my contributions to a game I have loved playing and a community I have loved being part of for decades,” said Candace. “I thank the United States Backgammon Federation for bestowing it, and I choose to take it as an incentive to accomplish even bigger and better things!” As for the future? “We all work toward the goal of making the game once again as popular as when it was played everywhere -- restaurants, public parks, beaches -- anywhere people congregate. To that end, we have programs to bring backgammon to the schools and meet-ups. We have thousands of teaching videos online. The future of backgammon is every bit as bright as its past!”