We had 13 people show for what is (most likely) our last meetup at Circa 33… Because some people have asked, my reasons for making a change are largely due to the original reasons for us having it there:
- It’s close to Rob’s house [well, he’s not hosting anymore, so…]
- They had an all day happy hour [well, now it starts at 4, so…]
We got a couple of good suggestions for a new location, so I will go on a pub crawl over the next weeks and pick one. If it doesn’t work out, I’m not afraid to move it again!
We experimented with a new format too. The fun thing about experiments is that sometimes they don’t work. It was far from a disaster, but it could have gone better. With 13 people, we had not quite enough people for two 8-person brackets, and so naturally I tried to run three brackets! That was also a function of trying to have both a $5 and a $10 entry. Then the side pool question got confusing for people… Well.
By 3:10, I had 7 people signed up for the $10 bracket, so I got that kicked off. 3 people opted for the $5 bracket. Then newcomer George arrived. I wanted to put him in the $5 bracket, as a newcomer, but he insisted that he wanted to play the $10. So that filled the $10. Turns out, George is a professional poker player and no slouch at backgammon – more on that in a bit.
Mark F and Bryan both arrived before 3:30, and I promised them a second $10 bracket. Here’s where my planning fell apart. A few months back, when I visited the weekly tournament in Vegas, they run it on a strict 8 person bracket, once you’re out you have to buy-in to a new bracket. I was thinking people would do the same, but I wasn’t considering that I was using a double-elimination structure still, which meant that no-one was finishing up to enter the third bracket. So Mark & Bryan ended up just playing heads-up. Sorry guys!
In the $5 bracket, Julie trounced newcomers Bob and Aaron, although knowing Julie, she was very nice about it.
In the $10 bracket, Kevin repeated his undefeated approach from last month.
Now let me whine for a moment. My first game was against Sharon, and it was a good match – lots of ups, lots of downs. I barely squeaked by, then sat down to play Larry. It was a good match again: I won, he won a double, I got through the Crawford game, and then was cruising towards a crushing victory in the double-match game. I had him trapped behind my prime, his board was crashed, put him on the bar, started bearing off – clearly victory was mine. Until I was forced to leave a blot, and Larry hit it. Well, that happens, and I had a huge edge, came in immediately, just needed to get around the board and… Larry rolled double 6’s. So now he was bearing off while I was still getting around the board, but no big deal, I had some big rolls, and soon enough we were sitting with me having 5 checkers to bear off and him having 12. Now, he was on roll, but no big deal, the only way he could win was to roll doubles – 3 times in a row. Which he proceeded to do. 1 in 216 odds, I lost the match!
Well, I went down to the consolation bracket to play George, who told me he plays mainly on Gridgammon, and has spent a decent amount of time playing Victor Ashkenazi. Playing online against giants does tend to hone your skills, and so George took me out too, though I think I gave him a decent run for it.
George ended up winning the consolation bracket, which got him his entry fee back, but not his side pool bet. I had declared that the winner of the side pool got it all, and that ended up being Larry. Talk about a lucky guy! Larry placed second, losing to Kevin in the final, but Kevin had not entered the side pool! So Kevin got the winnings for the tournament, but Larry got about twice that for the second place plus the side pool!
Again, a learning experience for me. With the shorter tournament structure, I think next time we’ll do 8 person, single elimination brackets, and if you want to keep going you can buy into a new bracket – Vegas style.
So next month, aside from the venue and the format, it’ll be about the same. Also, in response to Tim’s lobbying, the tournament will start earlier in the day – noon or 1, I think. But other than that, about the same. See you there!
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