The Team

Meet our team of qualified experts

Phil Simborg is the world’s first “Professor of Backgammon” teaching backgammon in an accredited college course he helped establish and teach. Phil has been teaching over 20 years, has published over 200 articles, lectures at many US tournaments, and leads seminars to groups all over the world via the internet. No one in the history of the game has given more private lessons than Phil, and many of his students have won major tournaments around the world. He is a full-time backgammon playing and teaching professional and volunteers much of his time to bringing new, young players into the game. Phil is co-founder and co-director, with Mochy, of the International Collegiate Backgammon Championships. In 2015 Phil finished the American Backgammon Tour as No. 5.

Masayuki Mochizuki (Mochy) is currently ranked the No. 1 Giant in the world, a World Champion, and winner of far too many tournaments to name. A resident of Tokyo, Mochy’s Under 25 club and Backgammon University has made great players of many your Japanese players, and through the Backgammon Learning Center Mochy will expand his teachings to people around the globe. Mochy currently holds the No. 1 Performance Rating in the Backgammon Masters International Rating List.

David "The Rock" Rockwell is respected throughout the backgammon world for his consistent world class play. He has won many tournaments including ABT events, has been the top player at the Chicago Bar Point Club over the past 7 years and is co-author of the Rockwell-Kazaross Match Equity table.

John "The Computer" O'Hagan is famous for his ability to do difficult calculations over the board. He has won far too many tournaments to list, and he is currently ranked No. 11 on the World on the Giants list. He recently took 1st place in the Howard Ring Memorial Quiz, which was a pure test of backgammon knowledge and skill. John has retired and is now devoting his time to playing and teaching backgammon–he has placed 2nd in the World Championships and was the No. 2 player for 2010 on the US ABT Tour.

"Stick" is currently ranked No. 10 Giant in the world. He is a respected teacher and lecturer, an active member and supporter of the USBGF. Stick runs the most popular free online backgammon forum which draws some of the strongest players in the world at

Perry has won many tournaments, was a semi-finalist in the World Championships two times, was ranked as high as No. 2 on the US Tour. He is is a noted author, lecturer and teacher and was Executive Director of the U.S. Backgammon Federation.

Fernando "The Prodigy" Neumark is known for his cunning and sharp play that developed at the young age of 12. Stationed out of Argentina, Fernando has aquired a deep understanding of backgammon over many years and has been putting his opponents to the test at tournaments around the world. Having already made his mark as the best player in Argentina, he looks to continue this trend in the US and abroad.

Tobias Hellwag is an accomplished tournament champion. He has won 7 international tournaments across four continents. Tobias enjoys sharing his expansive knowledge to students and watching them grow in backgammon.

Steve Sax is one of the top rated backgammon players in the world. He has been near the top of the giants list for many years and won many tournaments in the interim. Known for his world class ability to analyze positions, Steve is a natural teacher as his understanding of backgammon enables him to explain complicated positions to all skill levels of the game. He has a long list of accomplished students and has been teaching for many years.

David Presser, from Israel, is a highly-respected player with many major victories under his belt over the past few years. David resides in Israel and will specialize in teaching in Hebrew, but his English is also excellent and he has students in both languages.

Bill Calton is a chess master who transitioned to backgammon several years ago. A student of the game, Bill writes about backgammon at He Bill has been a student of thebackgammonlearningcenter for some time and it obviously paid off as he won the Championship Divison of the 2015 Ohio State Backgammon Championships. Bill has a passion for teaching and will specialize in teaching advanced beginners.

Cuneyt has been playing Tavla since childhood, and started playing modern Backgammon (with the doubling cube) in 2010. He graduated from the Computer Engineering Department of Bogazici University in Istanbul. He has been giving lectures there for the last 23 years on Calculus, Probability and Statistics, and Operations Research. He has many outstanding backgammon accomplishments including achieving the highest ranked turkish player in WBF Turkey’s rating list with more than 500 experience points.

Born in Riga, Latvia, in 1979, Dmitriy moved to Michigan, USA, in 2000. He started playing Chess in 1992 and became a USCF National Master in his mid 20s. In 2009, he discovered Backgammon and in 2010 he obtained XG, finding his PR to be just over 5.0, giving an early sign of his very exceptional natural gift for the game. Dmitriy has had notable successes. In Cleveland in 2011, he was second in the Consolation, and in 2012 was second in the Main and won the Masters. In doubles, he was second in Peoria in 2012 and winner in Chicago in 2013. He joined Mochy’s Under 4.0 Club in 2014.Online, he won two IIBGF ranking events. He won the Russian Premier League in 2013 and 2014. In 2014 he was second in the USBGF Online Championships. In the 2014 EBIF European Championship he won all 9 matches for runner-up Latvia. He is top 5 in the EBIF ranking list. His GridGammon nickname is Lyurix.

Ido Levi, from Israel, is known for his world class ability to analyze tough and complicated positions over the board. He is a passionate and dedicated student of the game and, as a result, continues to improve and grow as a player. As a teacher, Ido is able to break down complicated positions and provide very educated yet easy-to-understand explanations of various aspects of the game to players of all skill levels.

Fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Roberto has been playing live open level tournament backgammon since 2010. An avid student of the game, Roberto has read and studied most of the great books and articles. He taught backgammon for several years before joining the BLC. Roberto has a Masters of Backgammon designation from BMAB, a title based strictly on a high level of performance in actual tournament conditions.

Ben Friesen started playing with the Flint Area Backgammon Club in 2008 and has studied diligently in order to become a championship level player. He is an avid tournament and chouette player with accomplishments including back to back runner up finishes at the Michigan Summer Championships and two top twenty ABT finishes. Ben specializes in streaming and transcribing matches as well as teaching beginner and intermediate players.