We had five people turn out – same crew as last month – and broadly similar results. We really need some reinforcements to show up to keep Mark F. from walking away with the match every time! Someone cart Martin back in…
Play started a little late, using Paul’s board, Mark F’s precision dice, and a motley assortment of doubling cubes. We took a table just by the door, where the noise level was lower and the lighting was better – and the door for smokers as close as possible. Play was more or less even for a few games, until Mark F took the box for the first time and held it for 3 games. From there, he never got close to break-even again, although a few others did. Me, I was sinking like a stone.
There were a number of interesting positions that came up, and pictures were taken for later reference. Mark F said that unfortunately the more interesting position he photographed didn’t turn out, but a position where he was offered the cube did – here it is:
Here Mark F was white. If this looks like a massive drop – you are correct. However, because we were playing with the Jacoby rule, there’s no gammon chance unless the cube is offered. Thus, it is only a minor error to not turn the cube here.
I realized after I got home that I should have taken some pictures myself to include in this post. But – there was one position of note that I remember all too well. Here it is:
In this one, Mark F is the box, in red. Paul was captain, with Nick and I the field. Rob had cashed out earlier and missed this fun. Anyway: Paul had kept Mark trapped on the one point during bear-off, and we were heading for not just a gammon but a likely backgammon! With five chips on the two-point left to bear off, Paul rolled doubles, leaving a blot on the two-point! Which, naturally, Mark hit. He proceeded to keep us on the bar and/or hit us until he was well into his own bear off. And when we got to the position above, he did us the favor of returning the cubes.
Now, I’m putting this back together from memory – it’s possible there were actually two chips on his one point and one on his two point instead. But the dynamics are the same. Question: is this a take?
1 time in 6 he gets doubles and bears off. But 5 times in 6, he doesn’t, and the field has a chance to roll. To bear off one chip from the 9 point, there are 12 rolls that make it: double 3’s or better, 6-3, 6-4, 6-5, and 5-4. So the field’s odds of winning are 5/6 * 1/3 = 5/18: 27.8%. This is a clear take.
Nonetheless, Paul and Nick said no. I took, Mark F. did not roll doubles, and I got to make the final roll. 27.8% skyrocketed to only 33.3%, so sadly not a redouble opportunity. I shook the cup vigorously, and produced a 5-3. So close. Well, even when it’s the right decision, it doesn’t always work out.
Next month’s chouette will not be the first Saturday, because first Saturday and second Sunday are the same weekend. So look for us the third Saturday of January…