June 2023 Backgammon Tournament Results

We had a pretty good turnout for today’s event – 15 players showed up on a cool and wet afternoon. I was hoping the unseasonably wet weather would inspire more people to show up, but alas. Still, 15 is a good showing. This month we did not get any brand new players, but we did have quite a few who haven’t been in a while.

We had a bye in the A bracket, which by legitimately random chance ended up with me. That was nice, it gave me time to figure out all the payouts etc. The rest of the field started with Jeremy over Bodger, Dave over Tim, and Kyle over Jesse. After my easy start, I did cruise on to victory, beating out Kyle in a tightly fought match. Jeremy won the consolation bracket.

The B bracket was a full field, starting with Andrea (who came in second in the last Women’s Championship Qualifier) over Cam, Elton (who hasn’t been in a while but has been before) over Steven, Joel over Mark A, and Sanam over Julie. Sanam and Andrea went on to face off in the finals, which Sanam won. It’s only a couple of appearances, but this does mean Sanam is currently the only undefeated player with more than one tournament appearance… Mark A won the consolation bracket.

As the tournament wound down, we had a good chouette going for those of us who hadn’t had enough yet, and the rain started to come down pretty hard! Just for a few minutes, it felt like fall.

I did record my matches for the day, and will get those transcribed eventually. Hopefully I got the camera to an angle where you can see the whole board this time. We’ll see, but I am toying with the idea of adding analysis and commentary and loading them to youtube… stay tuned!

Next event is a few weeks out, our first Tour of Patios for the summer, see you there!


Championship Qualifier #2 Results

We had a great turnout for this past weekend’s second qualifier for the backgammon championship tournament – 18 players total showed up to compete. We had 14 entries in the men’s tournament, and 4 in the women’s, matching exactly the player mix from the first event back in March, but without me having to reassign any players.

For me, the tournament was short – JB knocked me out in the first match. I’m not claiming I played at my very best, but I will say, having recorded the match and transcribed it, that GnuBG described my luck level as “Go to bed!” I’ll pull out a position or two for analysis in a bit.

The women’s event resolved more quickly than the men’s, not just because of the smaller field, but also the matches all lasted a reasonable 45-60 minutes. In the men’s event, some of the matches stretched out to 75+ minutes long, which ended up holding up subsequent matches, etc. Anyway: Leah came out on top of the bracket for the second event in a row, meaning she has not only secured her entry into the championship tournament, but a first round bye! Andrea (making her first appearance at any of our events) came in second.

In the men’s event, given that the event was running on and I had been eliminated a long time ago, I decided to not ask for a deciding match to determine 1st/2nd, instead giving both of the players who would go into that match the 1st place payout and giving them both an entry into the championship. And those two players were Tim and Paul!

To recap both qualifiers so far, we have the following people eligible for the championship event:

  1. Leah (secured bye)
  2. Liz
  3. Andrea
  4. Molly
  5. Kyle
  6. Tim
  7. Paul

There will be two more opportunities to qualify – the next one is scheduled for August 27th, and the final will be scheduled for late October/early November, date TBD. The purse for the championship is already over $400, and I am planning on it being a trophy event as well, so you definitely want to try to get into it at one of the remaining qualifiers! I know I’m hoping to do better next time…

Speaking of doing better, here’s one of the positions where I struggled from my match with JB:

Screenshot 2023-06-07 7.30.28 PM

Now, earlier in this game, it was also a blunder for me to have accepted that cube, but I’m holding it now, and I am maybe in a position where I can turn it around. Not with this roll, of course – I needed maybe a 6-2 instead of a 6-4. But we have to play what we roll. With the 6, I have a choice between hitting another blot with 13/7*, or escaping one of the trapped back checkers with 24/18. With the 4… well, there are three legal and not foolish moves: 18/14, 13/9, and 5/1. Also 6/2, but that one I could immediately rule out. I decided that I preferred to pull one of the trapped back checkers out over hitting another blot, and given that I was aiming to start moving forward, I went ahead and lifted with the 4, 5/1. Huge mistake! Hitting the blot is the better use of the 6, and having done that, bringing another covering roll down with 13/9 is the obvious corollary. This is one of those “great if it works out” situations – yes, I might get hit back on the next roll, but if he dances, I am able to redouble on my next turn. That’s a turnaround! Lifting looks safe, but it takes that checker out of play, and I still have a lot of work to do so I need that resource.

Well, it was a good day of backgammon, and as I said, several more opportunities to come. Also, this summer’s Tour of Patios is scheduled – so please RSVP for those as well. Hope to play with you soon!



Chicago Open 2023

I spent Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, for my first appearance at the Chicago Open. I have been wanting to do that tournament for several years now. Back in 2020, when the shutdowns first started, I was initially really bummed because I had intended to do more ABT tournaments that year. But then online ABT came live, and it turned out that I was able to do a massive number of tournaments from the comfort of my own couch. Rory ran many of those tournaments, and used the “More Swiss” format for them, and I really liked that format. Chicago is the one live tournament that I know of using that format (and run by Rory, of course), and now you get the digression.

“More Swiss” works by pairing players at random in round 1, then in round 2 players who won play other players who won, then in round 3 players with a 2-0 record play other players with a 2-0 record (and likewise 1-1 pair with 1-1, 0-2 pair with 0-2), etc. The way it was run each player was guaranteed at least 4 matches in the main event, which is a more forgiving approach than the traditional main/consolation/last chance bracket structure of most tournaments.

I got in on Thursday, and played (and lost) a couple of side event matches – the limited jackpot and a “Taki board” tournament. Friday, I re-entered the limited jackpot, and lost again. So I re-entered a third time, and that time it stuck.

It was, naturally, a little discouraging to have lost so many matches before the main event even started. However, I seemed to be playing pretty well. I took pictures of a dozen or so decisions through those first couple of days, and most of them, I made the best decision. Of course, there were a couple of inexplicably bad decisions in there as well. For instance, this position (which came from the second round of the jackpot):

Screenshot 2023-06-03 5.57.49 PM

Here I’m leading 7-6 in a match to 9, and I’ve been offered a cube. My position isn’t bad, and in a money game, or at a score of 0-0, I would not have hesitated. But, I did hesitate. I thought about the downside – if I took and lost, he would suddenly have me in the Crawford game, when I had just taken the lead in the match. Whereas, if I dropped, we would go into double match point immediately (as the cube would be offered early in the next game). Of course, if I took and won, that would be the match. But it felt greedy, and I talked myself out of the take, and it was a huge take.

Anyway – I played until late Friday night, eventually losing in the semi-finals of the jackpot. But, I had broken my losing streak.

Until the next day, when the main event started. Guaranteed 4 rounds, I proceeded to lose 4 in a row. So that was Saturday. Sunday, I got up bright and early to take part in the “Unlucky Dice Last Chance” event, which my opponent proceeded to smoke me in. I asked him how he had gotten into the “Unlucky Dice” contest, given he rolled approximately 80 doubles in our 5-point match. From there, it was down to side events – I entered the “Juniors” event and the DMP (1-point match) event. Those went pretty well, and I was kept busy for the rest of Sunday and through most of the day Monday in those events – reaching the semi-finals in the Juniors and the finals in the DMP.

I had a couple of exciting positions in the Juniors. For instance, here’s a position where I am down 0-5 in a match to 7, on the bar, and considering throwing the cube!

Screenshot 2023-06-03 6.27.00 PM

Cubing from the bar is always good fun. My 0dds of winning the game are not that high, but a lot of times that I win, it’s with a gammon. It’s a pretty big double, and a monster take. However, not only did I go on to win the game, I won with a backgammon, swinging the score to me leading 6-5 Crawford! I hit his checker, he entered and rehit me, I hit that checker, and eventually got him with 5 or 6 checkers back.

A couple of rounds later, I had a troublesome checker play decision. I was down 0-2 in a match to 7, earlier in the game I had taken a cube and then recubed him, so the stakes were pretty high; and the roll – not my best.

Screenshot 2023-06-03 6.34.23 PM

I stared at it for probably 2 full minutes. 24/18 seems mandatory, but then the only 3 is 10/7. Unless… “I’m thinking about the banana split”, I informed my opponent, and he raised one eyebrow. And so I played 24/18, 5/3*, putting him on the bar. He danced, I covered the 5 on the next roll, he danced again, I brought a checker around, he danced a third time, and I was able to close him out. I won a gammon, and thus the match. On the other hand, the correct move was 24/18, 10/7. The banana split was -0.039 in equity; but it worked out.

You can watch me play the final in the DMP! The event was streamed, on the “second stream” for the event (so no commentary) – it’s about the last ten minutes of this video.

When I went to cash out, Arda and I went in together, and after Rory paid us off on the DMP, I said I also had the semi from the Juniors, and he paid me for that, and then I said I also had the semi from the limited jackpot. “You’ve won a lot of backgammon this weekend, my friend”, he said. And that’s true – this was a pretty good showing, even given that I went 0-4 in the main event.

A number of Portland players are heading to Los Angeles in another week or so for the LA Open, and I am having some FOMO. But other obligations do, in fact, make it untenable for me to get to another tournament so soon. But I’ll be watching the streams and hope to see one of them on there…