May 2024 Backgammon Tournament Results

We had a great turnout for this month’s regular tournament – 19 players came out to play. It’s an odd number, so there was a little bit of creativity involved in setting the brackets – especially because one person showed up late… But we made it all work!

I arrived a little after noon, to find about a half-dozen people already playing warm-up matches. That’s how it has been going lately – the maniacs show up early to get extra play.

I put 8 people into the “A” bracket, although only 5 of them were in the side pools. Round 1 had Kristina (down from Tacoma) over Bodger, me over Tim (back from Hawaii), Dave over Chris (returning for his first match of the year), and Jeremy (back from about 8 ABT events) over Mir. In the end, (double checks my notes) Dave won the bracket over Jeremy, and I beat out Kristina for the consolation bracket.

I put 10 people into the “B” bracket, because it did not seem reasonable to split into a third bracket. I might have come to regret that… Anyway, in round 1, Bob H (first time at a tournament, but he’s been to a number of the casual meetups) beat out Julie, Leah beat out Matt T (first tournament of the year for him), Steve beat newcomer Stan, Mark A won over Joel, and Matt H beat Noah (another newcomer). After we were underway, Fariba arrived, unfortunately she had been delayed by the construction and/or movie shoot that was in the area. I ended up slotting her into the consolation bracket to help smooth out the bracket. In the end, Leah won the bracket over Bob H, continuing her undefeated streak for the year! The consolation bracket ended up with Joel versus Julie, so at least they understood one another’s game pretty well. Joel won that one.

A small chouette broke out, and lots of post-tournament pick-up games were played. All in all, it was a great afternoon of backgammon, and it was great to see so many new players and welcome back so many people who hadn’t been around for a bit. A lot of excitement was expressed around next weekend’s “Portlandia Invitational” – I am definitely looking forward to it. Check our instagram for a picture of the prize cup for the event!

I was asked what the standing is for the Player of the Year cup. If you are not familiar, this is a trophy that goes to the person with the highest tournament wins minus losses count for the year. I picked that metric because it rewards both consistently showing up and playing well, and also showing up less frequently but really dominating when you do. At the moment, there is a tie for the race, showing both strategies — Dave has made to every event so far, with a 68% win rate for a net 8 wins, while Leah has only made it to 3 events, but has 100% win rate for also a net 8 wins! We’ll see how the rest of the year develops – lots of room for others to catch up!

Here’s a position that came up in my match against Jeremy, in our first game (so 0-0 in match to 5). A few moves before, I had (correctly) doubled him, and he had (correctly) taken. Then he rolled a double 6, radically changing the situation. Another sequence or two, and he offered me a 4 cube.

Screenshot 2024-05-19 9.08.58 PM

I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about this one. For doubling situations, I like to use the Keith Count, a method for adjusting for gaps and wastage. According to the Keith Count, this is a small-ish pass – if there was just 1 pip less of a gap in the race it would be a take. But I talked myself into taking it anyway. This was not a small mistake – it was a -0.188 double blunder! The Keith Count is best when you’re talking about money games, and I did not make the necessary adjustments for this being a match. Not that I understand those adjustments well – but roughly: if Jeremy wins, we go on to play the Crawford game. That’s almost as good as just winning the match. I still have almost 25% chance of winning this game, but if I do turn it around (say he rolls something that only gets off 1 checker, and I roll double 5, and then he again rolls poorly), I can recube him to 8 but he will still have a take. So mostly, he gets to the Crawford game, and when he doesn’t, he gets to a position where he can take my recube to 8, meaning he still has good odds of winning the match. That’s a pretty weak position for me. If it was a longer match, I would have a take; but as is…

Hope to see many of you again this coming Saturday at noon for the Portlandia!