A look back at DPS Backgammon

DPS Backgammon was the name of the organisation which staged lunch-time competitions in what used to be the computing department at Rolls-Royce, Patchway, from 1980. In those days the department was called Data Processing Services (hence DPS), and later became Systems & Computing. Then, in January 1996, the department was swallowed up by the global computing company EDS.

Competitions had initially been run by individuals -- namely Ian Tarr and Jules Smith -- but soon came under the auspices of a committee, which was still responsible for running lunch-time competitions until things petered out around 2004, coinciding with greater flexibility of movement among the workforce, which was deemed essential from an EDS viewpoint, but which proved to be the death knell of organised backgammon in that environment.

In the late 1990's, when the EDS culture gradually overtook the Rolls-Royce culture, there had been efforts made by some senior members of EDS management to snuff out backgammon in the Bristol offices, as the activity was not considered compatible with the EDS ethos.

At this stage, one manager stands out as a beacon of enlightenment. Mike Morse, who had been in at the start of DPS Backgammon as an entrant of the inaugural DPS Backgammon Shield, knew through his own experience of the beneficial side of having such an extra-curricular activity available.

In a large group of employees, spread over several offices, backgammon had become -- albeit inadvertently -- a major team building force, as old and new working relationships were often enhanced by the common bond of the DPS Backgammon player. Mike's resistance to the disapproval of those he ironically later came to outrank bought DPS Backgammon a few extra years of existence. And for that, backgammon in Bristol owes him a debt of gratitude.

What is now Bristol Backgammon stems entirely from these roots. In December 1986 the first evening tournament for Rolls-Royce players was held at Lesters Club, Worrall Road, Clifton, Bristol, and this was to be the forerunner of a series that is still in evidence even now.
The prime movers in this initiative were Phil Charlton and Dave Pym, and the Lesters Trophy event, which to this day features in the Bristol Backgammon calendar, should be regarded as the embryo from which Bristol Backgammon developed into what it is today.

A typical DPS Backgammon year

After a few developmental years, the DPS Backgammon year came to follow a well-established pattern during lunch-breaks.

The league would begin in the autumn and end in the spring.

Towards the end of the league season, around February, the first of the knock-outs began. This was the Division One Cup which could be entered by those First Division players who were well on course to finish their league season on schedule.

Then, in April, came the Handicap Cup, where players were allotted handicaps based on recent achievements in other DPS competitions. This competition was effectively the forerunner of Bristol Backgammon's Handicap Trophy.

At the very end of the league season, around the beginning of May, the Shield (DPS's biggest knock-out -- all matches were to 21 points) began.

Then, in July or August, came the "B" Tournament, which was open to all players not still involved in the Shield at that stage.

Which brought us back to October, and the restart of the league. For comprehensive details of the history of DPS Backgammon, click on the link below:

DPS Backgammon history

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