We had another excellent turnout for today’s event – 24 players showed up for a very sociable and lively afternoon of backgammon! For 6 of them, it was their first tournament, and several others it was their first appearance for quite a while, as in since I took over running the group! Several people asked why we seem to be having higher and higher attendance each month, and my answer is: beats me. I think a lot of people are just eager to come and do something live, face-to-face again. Plus, the events have each been a lot of fun, so people leave with a good impression and come back again – for which thanks to all of you who attend!
Given the size of the field, I broke us into 3 brackets of 8 people each. The way I decided on brackets is, I put all of the people who signed up for one or both side pools into one bracket, then randomly assigned people into one of the other two (more or less every other person, but not exactly, because I initially thought I could get away with just two brackets, so I had to resplit things…)
For the second time, I used a more structured approach to the double-elimination format. The first 4 pairings are based on random numbers I generate on the sign-up sheet. The winners advance to round 2, the losers play round 1 of the consolation bracket. Losers in round 2 of the top bracket play winners of the round 1 in the consolation, but I swap it so the round 2 consolation players come from different tiers of the main bracket so there’s no chance of a repeat match that early. Then the winners of round 2 in the consolation play, and I had the winner from that play the loser of the final in the main for second place.
It’s easier than it sounds. One critical feature of this, though, is that it’s a lot easier to win first than to win second. First place, just win 3 matches in a row. Second place, in some cases, can take winning 5 out of 6 matches, which happened in one of the brackets today!
For next time, I am thinking I will tweak it again, so that each bracket has two second-place winners – the loser of the final in the main and the winner of the consolation bracket. So, where this time, I paid $50 to first and $20 to second, I would pay $40 to first, and $15 each to the two second place winners. As with most of the tweaks I have been making, the hope is to get the formal event done a little more quickly, as we again went past 5:30 before the event finished today.
And as long as I’m four pages into the update without giving you any idea how each event went, I’ll go ahead and explain why there’s $70 in prize money in each bracket as well. I take a $10 rake per bracket to offset the costs of running the group. Those costs are mostly for meetup (about $200/year), as well as for this blog (about $25/year). The group has been running in the red for most of the time I have been organizing events – I inherited a $120 surplus from Rob when I first took over, but did not start taking a rake for the first 6 months or so while I was trying to figure out what I was doing, and then of course during the pandemic I wasn’t collecting anything. At this point, the group is $417.95 in the hole, which is an improvement. Not anything to worry about, just an FYI on how the financials of the group run.
On to results: The “A” bracket was mostly a “usual suspects” group – Max brought his parents along again, plus Aaron and Tim, plus returning player Dirk and newcomer Sofia (who got jammed in after showing up late, because otherwise Tim would have had a first round bye). Because of the late start on the Tim/Sofia game, this bracket ended up taking the longest of any to resolve for second place. Additionally, because this was the bracket with all the side pool players, it got a bit confusing for the payouts as well. Anyway – I ended up winning the overall – beating out Dirk in round 1, Tim in round 2, and Aaron in the final. Max had a rough day of it, losing first to his father, then to his mother. Tim and Dirk revenged Max, eliminating Evan and Elisa in the consolation bracket, allowing the three of them to finally head out. At this point, I got thrown, because Tim and Dirk were playing in the consolation and both of them had entered only 1 of the two side pools, so I chased them down to give Evan the 2nd place in the second side pool. Later I realized that, oops, Aaron was also in the second side pool, so he should be the winner of that! I texted Max and he returned the money via venmo, Aaron got paid out, and then he and Tim sat down to play the last match of the tournament. I headed out, but Tim later called to report that they had agreed to settle when the score was 2-2, as dear lord, it was already after 6:00 by that point.
In the “B” bracket, Bodger had another very strong showing, winning 3 in a row to take 1st place! Combined with his results from last month, he now has an impressive 5-2 record in our tournaments. Also impressive is Matt’s record of 5-1, set entirely in today’s tournament, as he fought his way to the second place win! That’s what I was talking about as maybe this structure makes it a little too hard to win second place… Newcomers Richard and Paola had a rough time of it, but seemed to have a good time, and returning players Nitan, Leah, Julie, and Killion had mixed results. Julie came close to repeating a second place win, and definitely gets the “best behaved dog” award.
Finally, the “C” bracket was dominated by newcomers, with the 1st place going to Gary and second place going to AJ. We always like to have newcomers do well so they’re more eager to come back, but having watched parts of their matches I think these are both pretty strong players, certainly ones to watch out for! Chatting with AJ after, he expressed appreciation about Gary as being the kind of player who will give you some pointers about where you went astray, even as he wipes the table with you – which made me hope to get a chance to play him next time.
Speaking of next time, I will be getting something on the calendar in the next couple of days. Figuring out where makes sense against the holidays is always a challenge, which also reminds me: thank you to whoever thought to go in and ask them to turn on the heaters, it was far more pleasant once that happened. Until next time!