We had an amazing turnout today, 20 people showed up to play! And 1 showed up to watch! There was a fair showing of the usual suspects, but quite a few newcomers as well. Aaron, Randy’s son, made the record books as our youngest ever full participant in the tournament. Max brought along his parents, for their second ever appearance. Charles got the “long haul” award, driving down from Seattle for the event. Philip, fresh off his strong showing at the last chouette, came by to see if he could beat us all in tournament play as well (spoiler alert: he could). And that’s far from everyone…
7 people entered one or more side pool, and I put us into the “A” bracket, along with Charles, on the grounds that he said he was taking lessons from Marc Olsen, and so he’s probably pretty strong. So that was an 8 person bracket for the higher stakes, mostly. The other 12 people I put into the “B” bracket. To keep the two brackets in some kind of sync, I made the “A” bracket 5 point matches and the “B” bracket 3 point matches. The logic there is that the winner of the “A” bracket would win 3 5-point matches, 15 total, versus the winner of the “B” bracket out to win 4 3-point matches, 12 total, so relatively close in total length. Naturally, that did not work out at all.
“A” bracket first. I started off with a “grudge match” against Elisa (Max’s mom), who was still mad that I beat her a few years ago when they were last in town visiting. She was even madder after I beat her 5-0 in our match. Aaron lost out to Charles, Philip beat Tim, and Max cruelly beat his own father to round out the first round. In round 2, I sat down against Charles, and Max took on Philip. Tim vs. Evan and Elisa vs. Aaron played on in the consolation rounds.
Against Charles, I won a doubled gammon in the first game, taking us immediately to the Crawford game. Charles squarely beat me in the Crawford, and after I won the opening with a 6-5, he immediately doubled me in game 3. Now, game theory, if you’re up 4-1 in a match to 5, win the opening roll, and get immediately doubled: a lot of the time it’s a drop. But I figured this case was probably a take – making the lover’s leap is a solid start, puts me up in the race, and no threats. So, I took. We played on and eventually got to this rather challenging position:
There are limited good options here. I narrowed it down to 10/3 (duplicating 6’s for Charles) or 8/2, 7/6 (playing it “safe for now”). And, tragically, I failed to write down what I actually did. What do you think? The duplication of 6’s is relatively weak protection, but the position after the other move is pretty dubious. According to the computer, 10/3 is correct. I’m pretty sure that’s not what I went with. It didn’t matter which I chose, because I had the opportunity to do the other on my next roll, when I rolled 6-1 again! All of which is fine, sure, but the roll after that, when I rolled 6-1 for a third time, Charles quit playing around and finally hit my blot on his bar point. From there he went on to win a gammon. Oh, backgammon, indeed the cruelest game.
Meanwhile, Philip beat out Max, and so the two of them faced off for 1st/2nd. But note, Charles was not in the side pools! So figuring out the payout got complicated. After some calculations and some negotiations, I ended up facing off Elisa again for the 2nd side pool (winner take all). Tim and Max played for 2nd place in the 1st side pool, as I had determined that Philip was the winner of 1st in the 1st side pool…
Elisa was having no more of my nonsense. I won the first game, but she took the next 3, including one where I had foolishly doubled her right before she rolled an escaping/taking the race lead 6-6. I survived Crawford by the skin of my teeth, and soon we were at 4-4 double match point. After some back and forth, we got into a race, which Elisa proceeded to smoke me out with multiple double 5’s! Meanwhile, Max was offering Tim a narrow take of a cube when they were 3-3, putting the whole match on the line with his 58 to 62 pip count lead. And Max proceeded, like his mother before him, to roll multiple doubles to win it.
Charles beat out Philip for the main, winning the overall bracket; but Philip took home more cash as the 2nd main/1st 1st side pool winner. So overall half the bracket walked home with some cash from it.
Phew. So what about the “B” bracket?
First round had Brad vs. Brian, Sande vs. Randy, Robert vs. Nathan, Dillon vs. Aaron, Stephanie vs. Paul, and Kyle vs. Bo. So that’s eight (8!) new players out of twelve (12!). I juggled it so the winner of each first match was listed first there, too. Brad vs. Brian and Kyle vs. Bo ended up being especially long matches too, so we were quickly to a point of it being hard to track. But people were in good spirits about it all, happy to play a pick-up game or two while waiting for their next formal match to start.
Stephanie had a good start, going on from her match against Paul to also beat Dillon and then Robert. At that point, being 3-0, it SHOULD have been the case that we were just waiting on one other person to get to 3-0 so we could go into the championship match. However, because of the timing issues, we ended up with Brad getting to 3-0 at the same time Kyle was emerging 2-0. So, I had 3 undefeated players. I told Brad and Stephanie to roll-off to see who had to go through Kyle first, to get to the championship match. Stephanie got unlucky in having to take the extra match, but then lucky in that she beat Kyle in a very short match. Stephanie then went on to beat Brad as well, making her this month’s most undefeated player, with a 5-0 showing!
It was a really terrific afternoon of backgammon, and I hope everyone had as much fun as I did. We’ll get another on the calendar fairly soon – see you then!