December 2023 Backgammon Tournament Results & Annual Wrap-Up

We had a modest turn-out for our final monthly tournament of the year — 11 players came out on a damp and grey afternoon to play a little backgammon. When I told my wife how I was a little disappointed in the low turnout, she noted that we had just had our largest turnout event of the year the weekend before, and so maybe people were worn out on backgammon. I looked at her with a complete lack of comprehension, as I began packing for the upcoming LA tournament (for my third weekend in a row of backgammon…)

Anyway – I was hoping for a few people who had RSVP’d to show up a little late, and figured we had enough for two brackets, so we ended up with one 5-person bracket, and one 6-person bracket.

In the “A” bracket, the first round had Larry versus Bodger, and David versus Leah. That’s only 4 names, you will notice, because taking a first round bye was yours truly. The David versus Leah match was the most consequential one, if you read my note from the Championship tournament, you will recall that Leah went into the day with a narrow lead in the competition for Player of the Year, having one more net win than David. So if David won, he would end up flipping that – adding one win to his tally and one loss to hers. David took an early lead in the match, but then Leah began fighting her way back. Ultimately they went to 4 each in the match to 5, and it all came down to one game! I watched from a distance, as Leah put Dave on the bar, and started moving her checkers around for the close-out; but then Dave got the miracle hit from off the bar and came back for the win!

In the second round, I played Dave, in a very quick, intense, and not particularly well played match. We both had pretty lousy PRs coming off the one-game match – me from a few bad choices for checker play plus a bit of tricky cube choices, and Dave from a single blunder with the cube that cost him almost as much in equity as I got from 3 separate blunders. I am hoping and planning to put this one on YouTube (have you checked out my YouTube channel yet?), but here’s one of the blunders from my side.

Screenshot 2023-12-06 1.55.07 PM

First game in the match to 5, I am holding the cube, I have Dave nearly closed out, and double 2 is one of my better rolls. I immediately made the switch, playing 3/1*(2), then started looking for what to do with the other two 2’s. And then I noticed that, instead of making the switch, I could make a full prime in front of him with 11/7, 9/7, and throw in 8/6 for good measure. It looked so pretty that I went with that, which is only a -0.124 blunder. There are about 8 better moves, and every single one of them includes 3/1*(2) as part of the action, with the best being to add 18/16(2) so that you don’t end up with (spoiler alert) an awkward 6 on the next roll.

After finishing with me, Dave went on to win his third match in a row, bringing him to the highest net wins of anyone in the club for the year, and making him our Player of the Year for the second year running!


Congratulations, Dave!

That’s a lot about the “A” bracket. Over in the “B” bracket, in round 1, Mir took on Mark A, Ed was paired with Tim, and Matt faced off against Nathan. Mir went on to win the bracket over Matt, and Nathan came back through the consolation bracket to cash there.

For the year in review: golly did we play a lot of backgammon! Adding in the Championship series moved us from 15 events last year to 20 events this year. We had slightly fewer people attend an event in 2023 than in 2022, but much higher engagement from the people who did attend, with the average number of events attended per person moving up from 3.4 last year to 3.9 this year. Bodger gets special mention for being the only person (other than me) to make it to every single tournament – what a maniac!

My (idiosyncratic) way of ranking players is to take the total number of matches won minus the total number of matches lost for the year, and use that to order people. The idea is that it rewards both winning and participation – in other words, someone can be on the list for showing up a handful of times and playing really dominantly (for example, Sanam or Paul), or for showing up very consistently and playing pretty well each time (for example, David or Kyle). With that explanation out of the way, here is the list of the top players and their stats for 2023:

Player Played Won Wins-Losses % Events Attended
David Cohen 46 28 10 60.87% 18
Mark Danburg-Wyld 57 33 9 57.89% 20
Jeremy Krieger 36 22 8 61.11% 12
Sanam V 14 11 8 78.57% 6
Leah Nash 21 14 7 66.67% 9
Paul Swain 17 12 7 70.59% 7
Nathan Alter 23 15 7 65.22% 7
JB Groh 8 7 6 87.50% 3
Mir 8 7 6 87.50% 2
Kyle Petersen 42 23 4 54.76% 14
Pete Anderson 7 5 3 71.43% 3
Howard 3 3 3 100.00% 1
Bodger Andrew millerd 58 30 2 51.72% 20

Thanks everyone for a great 2023, and we’ll start of 2024 soon!