We had a modest but sufficient turnout for the last-minute-rescheduled chouette. I owe an apology to Tim and James, who both showed up on the original date, although not at the same time, leading to a distinctly unsatisfactory situation for each of them. I shouldn’t have let my work life get in the way of backgammon – at the LA tournament this past weekend, I saw a t-shirt that read “Quit your job & play backgammon” – solid advice to be sure.
There were a number of interesting positions that came up over the afternoon. This first one is a checker play decision. In running some of my matches through XG, it’s clear that playing doubles is a “problem spot” – the excess of options sometimes leads to me having trouble…
If you can’t read it on the screen, that’s double 4’s, and the cubes are in the center, none have been offered or taken. Now, obviously, one good thing to do would be to play 24/20(2), set up the advanced anchor, and be well positioned for the rest of the game. And I thought about doing that. If I were to do that, then what do I do with the next two 4’s? I could run the back checkers all the way out to the 16 point, I could cover the 4 point, I could bring one checker from the 13 to the 5… Lots of good options. One not so ideal option would be to play 24/20(2), 5/1*(2), putting a checker on the bar, and arguably accomplishing something on both sides of the board. But, I figured, if I play 5/1*(2), it makes more sense as part of a blitzing strategy, and so it should be half of a 5/1*(2), 8/4(2) play, hitting and making 4 points on my board. Ultimately, that’s what I did. It’s only a 0.397 blunder.
The best play is 24/16(2). However, that’s such a good move that I’m still a favorite after this enormous blunder! The rest of the game was interesting. Mark F entered with a 2,3 or something that left him with a blot on the 5 point – I didn’t take a picture so maybe one of the back checkers is off: something like this:
At this point, it’s clear why it was a mistake to leave the back checkers alone – I don’t even have a double! But then I rolled a 6,1 played 11/5*, 6/5. At which point, Mark F fanned, and it was a double/pass. So, all’s well that ends well? Or more likely, even a fool gets lucky sometimes.
Clearly, a fool does get lucky sometimes, as in the following position:
Here, red has been forced to leave a double shot by an unfortunate 5,6 roll. The question is, does that leave white too good to double? I ultimately decided that no, it’s “only” 20 shots that turn it around, so it’s a double. And it’s also a drop for red.
All in all, it was a lot of fun, and I promise to schedule only one time for the chouette for June. The tournament, on the other hand, I also screwed up, and originally sent for the 9th, when I was in LA for the ABT tournament. Apparently about 3 people showed up for that, although I moved it on meetup within a half-hour… Sigh…