Tour of Patios #4 (there’s no place like home)

For our final tour of patios stop we ended up… at Lucky Lab. Turns out White Owl doesn’t open until 4:00 on Sundays? I do not think that was true when I was originally planning this out, but somehow the bars are all opening later and later as the summer goes on. Fortunately, White Owl is only a couple of blocks from Lucky Lab, and thanks to Dave notifying me early, I was able to get an email out to attendees and hang a sign, etc.

We had 18 people show up to play, although a couple of those were not in the tournament (but I’m told they had fun anyway). We filled 7 4-person brackets! And, Tim and I finished the match from Tour #3! So all in all, quite a successful day.

David and Paul were the big winners of the day, taking two brackets each. Julie and Mir each had their first Tour victory, winning their brackets, and I won the last one. Also Tim won the last one, if by last one, you meant the Tour #3 last one.

David, Paul, and I all won off of massive come-from-behind games. Ed had David down 4-0, Joel had Paul down 4-0, and Tim had me down 4-0 – in all three cases, we won the Crawford game, then gammoned a game with the cube turned to steal victory from the jaws of defeat! Fairly epic, although obviously disappointing for Ed, Joel, and Tim respectively.

Next month, we return to our usual 3-point, double elimination structure. But do not grieve, lovers of 5 point matches! My plan is to switch things up, and alternate between 3-point, double elimination and a longer match, probably single elimination structure – including at least one higher equity 7 or 9 point match event! But as many people miss the double elimination aspect as appreciate the longer match aspect, so I can’t not disappoint someone. We’ll all get by.

Most critically, I’m done trying new locations for a bit – we will stick with Lucky Lab for most of the events for the rest of the year – boring, perhaps, but dependable!

See you next time!


Tour of Patios #3 Results

Backgammon teaches us to deal with uncertainty. Should I make a point, or hit loose? How can I play this 3? What was the score again?

This week’s event really stretched that dealing with uncertainty to the limit. We had a bunch of questions that were very difficult to answer. Does the place open at 3:00, or 4:00? If it opens at 4:00, where do we go instead? And who won that last bracket, anyway?

Some of those we now know the answers to, some are still out there. It did open at 3:00 (promptly), and a pretty large contingent of backgammon fanatics shuffled in, then back out onto the patio. We ended up with 17 players in the tournaments, plus Sande and a few others drifted over from the Second Sunday to hang out and play some more. So all in all, a very nice event (although significantly too hot out!)

We ended up filling 6 brackets, and in contrast with last time, the winners were pretty distributed. In bracket 1, Dave came out on top, Jesse took #2, Cameron the third, JB beat me out for the 4th, and Joel rounded it out with the final win.

If you were carefully counting, I listed 5 winners for 6 brackets. How does that work, you may be wondering? Well, the 6th bracket is not over yet! Tim and I each won in the first round, but by then I was fried and Tim kindly agreed to meet up later to play for the win in that one. Which – has not happened yet, almost a week later. The tension is palpable!

Speaking of tension, here’s a position I captured from my game with Mark A. Here I’m up 2-0 in the match, and he offered me a cube.


I have one checker on the bar, but also an advanced anchor made. So it’s not hopeless. I have been thinking a lot lately about cubes in match play versus cubes in money play. This is a good example – it’s a double/take for money, and I had a good sense of that. The computer says I still have about 29.5% wins, as Mark has to get his back checker out and around, and it will likely take him several moves to cover his 4 point – by which time I will probably escape and maybe hit him back. However, given that it’s a match rather than money, and especially given that I am up in the score – it is a pass. At an even score (0-0), it would be very marginal, but here it was a sizable 13% blunder to take. Fortunately for me, I did not take, but it was the start of Mark’s comeback. Final score in the match was 5-4, and if I recall, it came down to about one roll difference.

The race for Player of the Year continues to swing around with every tournament – after this event, Dave’s 100% win rate suddenly pushed him above Kyle in total wins, and both Mark A and Bodger are still not far behind. It’s still anyone’s guess who will end up on top at the end of the year!

We will go back to our standard double-elimination event tournament structure starting next month as well, but I have lots of suggestions from people for additional events. Tim and Dave want more longer-match format events, Bodger wants to do a speedgammon tournament, Leah has suggested doing a doubles event. I want to try them all, it’s a question of how to fit it all in. I am going to two (2!) national ABT events next month – the Viking Classic in Minnesota, and the Denver Open in (checks notes) Denver. As a result, I’m limited on time to do an extra event real soon. We’ll see what come of it.

Speaking of ABT events – a handful of Portland area players are already members of USBGF (United States Backgammon Federation). You have to be a member to attend an ABT tournament – but there are other benefits as well, such as access to Prime Time magazine, educational videos, etc. If you not already a member, check it out – might be something you want to consider. Maybe we can get a substantial contingent to go to the US Open in Vegas this fall…

See you at the next one!


Backgammon Tour of Patios #2 Results

We had an amazing 21 people show up for this afternoon’s tournaments, playing a total of 8 complete brackets. That is a lot of backgammon! Breakside was a good location – I was a little worried about being right along the street but traffic was very light and it was well shaded. When a breeze came through, it was almost pleasant… Almost. 🙂 Actually it was quite tolerable in spite of the 5th or 6th day of 90 degree plus temperatures.

Learning from my mistakes last time, I held off entering myself into a bracket until I had most everyone else up and running. It made the start easier for me to manage; although it did take a while to get people paired off, it wasn’t an unreasonable wait to get things rolling.

As with last time, more brackets means more winners, but the theme of the day was that winners keep winning. I won two of the brackets myself, as did David, as did Jeremy. The other two were won by Kyle and Tim, respectively.

We had a good amount of people rolling off the brackets and into casual pick-up play, which is as it should be. Play was pretty continuous from before 2:00 until about 5:45. Being at a new location, we also got a good amount of interest from passers-by, who were interested to learn that there is a Portland Metro Backgammon Club. Hopefully a few of them will show up at a future event as participants. One of the “advertising” side effects of the tour – gets people playing backgammon in front of people who don’t come only to our usual haunts…

The event also really shook up the race for Player of the Year. Both Mark A and Bodger had relatively rough days, each playing 3 matches but winning only 1 apiece. On the other hand, Kyle, who has been running hot the past couple of events, had a 100% day… As of this moment, Kyle has jumped past both Mark and Bodger, and with a 68% win rate is the current front-runner for player of the year! But it is really anyone’s guess how it will all end – David and Jeremy are both sporting 60%+ win rates and pretty high # of matches played. If you are up for the challenge, anyone who comes pretty consistently through the rest of the year and wins a lot could easily take the trophy for 2022…

Anyway, it was a good afternoon, I hope everyone had as much fun as I did, and I hope to see you all again in a couple of weeks when we try out Moon & Sixpence. Although – important note – we’re starting that one even later in the day, since they apparently don’t open until 3:00… See you then!