We had a fine showing for today’s tournament – 17 players came out on a cool and cloudy afternoon, including 3 new players. Nobody came out for the pre-tournament lesson, however. Bodger was there almost as early as me, though, so we played a couple of rounds of speed gammon – playing with a clock with 2 minutes of time bank for a 5 point match. Bodger took the first one, I won the second (with the cube at 8 – single game match). It was a lot of fun, and got us both into a nice little frantic mood for the actual tournament.
17 players doesn’t divide evenly into nice brackets, and I was hoping/expecting that one more person would show up a little late. So I divided us into 3 brackets, one with 5 players and two with 6 players each. Because the brackets were smaller, I went with a modified system where the loser from the last round of the main played the winner of the consolation to determine 2nd place, and just paid out 1st/2nd. As usual, I put all the players who entered into the side pools into one bracket, and as I did last month, I made that bracket play out 5 point matches, while the rest of the brackets stayed at 3 point matches.
In the “A” bracket, round 1, Ed got steamrolled by Dave, Bodger got knocked out by Max, and I got a bye because this was the 5 person bracket. Max and Bodger had the fastest match of the day, finishing in about 15 minutes. So then Max and I faced off, and had a relatively quick match as well. I eventually pulled off the win, but Ed and Dave were still going on their first match! I did not want to put Max against Bodger a second time in the consolation, and so Max got the consolation round bye. Dave then stomped me in the final. Bodger took Ed the rest of the way out of the tournament, then Max, and then we faced off for 2nd place. It was a good match, and I have a position to review from it later on in the post. Sadly, I could not pull it off, and so Bodger took second.
In the “B” bracket, we had 2 of the 3 newcomers. Ian started off against Nathan, Leah against Kyle, and Julie against Sanam; with the second named player from each pair winning the round. Sanam got the second round bye, and won the bracket! Always good when we can have a first-timer win, keeps them coming back for more… Nathan eventually won the 2nd place slot, in a close fought match with Leah.
In the “C” bracket, first timer Jon faced off against Joel, Rick took on Jeremy, and Steve challenged JB; with the second named player from each pair winning the round again. Rick ditched after that first game, on some implausible excuse – something about “wife” and “supportive”. Anyway – eventually JB came out on top, with Jeremy taking 2nd over Joel.
We had a lively post-tournament chouette that went until almost 5:00, giving me (and a few others) the opportunity to lose a little more money. Dave and Leah were the big winners there – Dave holding the box for a good long run while Bodger and I were playing the final match of the tournament, and Leah having a solid run until we had to break up for the day.
Speaking of Bodger and I playing the final match of the tournament – here is a position that came up in our 3rd game. I am leading 2-1 in a match to 5, and sitting behind a full 6-prime after Bodger turned the game around on me – I had been on the road to a gammon, and already have 4 checkers off the board…
This one did give me pause. It was tempting to give it up, and just go into the next game even with him, 2-2. On the other hand, since I have checkers off the board, I cannot lose a gammon, so my worst case scenario is I go into the next game down 2-3. My best case is he rolls something awkward and I win the game to go into Crawford, 4-1. My implausible dream case is I somehow still gammon him and just win the match! Ultimately I decided being down 2-3 wasn’t terrible and took – which is very correct, as Bodger does not quite have a double here! I have 25.2% winning chances for the game, making it not even a double for money play. It would be close if I were massively ahead in a long match score (a little trial and error said the position would be a borderline double if I were leading 9-1 in a match to 13), but I found the take. Thank goodness, because it would have been a triple blunder to pass. If I remember it correctly, I did pull out the win, taking us to the Crawford game, but then Bodger fought his way back to ultimately take me out. As he does…
Anyway, it was a great afternoon, I had a blast, I overheard the scrabble people talking about how many backgammon players were always there, and a good time was had by (almost) all. Hope to see you at the next one!