Denver Backgammon Tournament

Last weekend, I went to the Denver Open Backgammon tournament. Portland had a good showing at the event – with Bodger and Mary also attending the event. In fact, the first match I had ended up being against Bodger, and we laughed at the irony of coming all the way to Denver to play one another.

That match almost ended up being one game long. It was a match to 7, and in the first game, the cube made it up to 4. I had Bodger on the ropes, until a late hit put me on the bar, and he threw the cube back to me at 8.

Screenshot 2022-09-30 7.51.55 PM

The situation is, of course, bad. The question is, how bad? All I have to do is enter, get that back checker around (without getting hit again), before he manages to get his two checkers out and around. If I still had my bar point, it would even be a take – but it is a drop, and I did drop. That didn’t do me much good – I was down 0-4 in the match and Bodger was able to clean me out with a few more games. But at least I made it past game 1.

Doubling decisions are a theme of the photos I took over the weekend, naturally. Here’s one where I had to decide whether or not to redouble. This is from a 9-point match, and I trailed 0-3. I had been shipped the cube earlier, and had turned it around to this position.

Screenshot 2022-09-30 9.52.10 PM

Leading up to this, my opponent (Patrick) had been trying to bring his checkers in, and I had been trying to get my back checkers out of his home board. I had given up on hitting any more after he got his first checker in, and escaped as he got his second checker in. So it was decision time – cash the position, or play on for the gammon? It is obviously a massive drop for him, with my next roll likely running past his 15 point and bringing the blot on the 9 point to safety. I can still get a fair number of gammons by playing on, either with some big rolls or by potentially getting hit and picking up some additional checkers. Eventually I decided on cashing the position – which is… really borderline. GnuBG says it is too good to redouble by 0.001, while BGBlitz says to not redouble is a -0.003 error. Really can’t go wrong here.

Many of the pictures I took ended up being ones where I did, ultimately, make the right decision. This next one is not one of those… This is from a 9 point match, where I am trailing 3-7, and as you can see, the position is one where I’m in a bit of trouble. I don’t think the score really comes into the decision however, it’s just a question of what should be my game plan.

Screenshot 2022-10-01 10.17.47 AM

After the match, my opponent said he thought I should have played 13/7(2), 10/4(2), putting everything on containing his back checkers. I looked at that option. However, I was thinking the position was basically like a nackgammon game. If you haven’t played nackgammon, look it up – but the critical thing early in nack is keeping and improving the connectivity between your back checkers and the rest of the board. I couldn’t see leaving the 13 point, because then the back checkers are completely isolated from the front checkers. So 24/18(2) or 24/18(3) seemed like an absolute necessity – and that top 10 or so possible moves all include that. I finally landed on 24/18(2), 24/12 – hoping to strengthen my outfield position. The top move is 24/18(2), 10/4(2) – doing a little of both connecting and containing. Seeing it now, it seems obvious. But, on roll-out, my choice was only a -0.230 triple blunder. Much better than my opponent’s recommended -0.357 choice. Glad I didn’t listen to him!

Not to say that is the only position I captured where I made a mistake. Consider this cube decision:

Screenshot 2022-10-01 1.16.38 PM

This came out of an 11 point match, where I happened to be leading 5-3 at the time. At a normal score, say 2-2, this is a double and a take. But since I am ahead in the match, this was a pass, a -0.087 blunder to have taken. Why? Well, he has almost 70% winning chances, and over 20% gammons. If he wins one of those gammons, I would be down 5-7, so he’s 4 points away from winning, which is a very favorable place to be. I don’t mind this blunder so much, I think getting the nuances of match score on cube decisions is one of those things that comes last to most people as they get better at backgammon…

Here’s another position from that same match.

Screenshot 2022-10-01 1.59.05 PM

I’m now up 7-4 (so 4 points away for me, 7 points away for him), and I had to decide whether to double or play on. I’m in good shape for sure, my main liability being that my back checkers are still stuck on his ace point. But the race is surprisingly close, and I talked myself into being scared of some awkward rolls, and did not double. It’s a fairly big double (-0.055 error to have not shipped), and an easy take. I then rolled 62, and misplayed it 13/5 instead of 24/16. Just to try to pack some more blunders into the same 30 seconds, I suppose.

There are a few more positions I could post, I guess, but this is getting fairly long. Bodger did very well for his first ABT tournament, going 4-3 for the event. Mary didn’t fare quite as well, but I think she had fun and learned a lot from the experience. Bryan (from Seattle) was there as well, and ended up cashing in the consolation bracket. So overall, a good event for the Portland crew.


September Backgammon Tournament Results

We had a good turnout for this month’s return to our usual tournament structure – 23 players came to play, giving us 3 (almost) full brackets.

The Andersons and associated kin came down from Seattle, and Jeremy came up from Salem. By chance, I ended up playing all and only the out-of-towners. We had a couple of new people show up – Sahar, David P, and Gayle all made their tournament debuts.

In the “A” bracket, I won in round one over Molly, Pete defeated Nick, Jeremy took out David C, and Max  beat Christy. Max and Pete went on to play in the final, with Pete pulling out a lucky gammon to finish the match 3-2 in the Crawford game. Jeremy beat me out in the consolation bracket for the tie of second place. When I left, Max and Jeremy were negotiating whether to pool their winnings and play for it…

In the “B” bracket, Sande beat out Sahar, Julie won over Cam, Greg beat Richard, and Mir won over David P. Sande and Mir advanced to play the final, with Sande taking the prize! In the consolation bracket, Cam got a revenge match with Julie, and came out ahead in their second head-to-head.

The “C” bracket wasn’t completely full, but saw Rick beat out Matt in round 1, Mark A beating out Nathan, and Tim beating Joel. Newcomer Gayle got the bye for round one. Rick ended up besting Mark A for the final, with Nathan over Matt in the consolation bracket.

Folks, this was our record setting 11th tournament for the year. Between the regular monthly tournaments and the “Road to Vegas” series that I scheduled for November, we’re going to have 15 or 16 tournament events this year! I’m not sure how many holiday specials will get added in there yet… When I get to assessing the “Player of the Year” award, it’s likely the cutoff for consideration is going to be 15+ matches played – we already have 11 players who have at least that many, with David C leading the pack at 31 (!) matches for the year. I mean, I’ve got 37, but as the organizer, I have an unfair advantage.

Next month’s tournament is already on the calendar, I have a bunch of scheduling conflicts for October, so it will be earlier in the month, and on a Saturday in order to not conflict with Sande’s social event the same weekend. See you there!


Viking Backgammon Slaughter

I spent this past weekend in Minneapolis, for the annual Viking Classic backgammon tournament. This is the second year in a row attending – last year it was my first travel-to event in the pandemic era. I went in feeling like I have a much stronger game, and feeling confident that I would have my best tournament yet. And, naturally, I got slaughtered!

My first event was the “Friday Frigga”, a mixed level event, and I was lucky enough to be paired against Dana N (currently #16 in lifetime ABT points). I lost the match 0-7, but it was a pretty good match for me regardless. Consider the following position, which happened in our second game, so I was down 0-1 at the time.

Screenshot 2022-09-06 8.18.28 PM

I’m black, on roll. What I noticed at first is that I have 6 cross-overs before I can begin bearing in, versus 5 for him, which meant that the pip count was probably pretty close. In fact, the pip count is dead even. His board has started to crack, with the dead checker on his 2 point. My board is a mess, but a lot of rolls clean it up. 1’s and 3’s are all amazing. So I doubled. And he had to think about it! Analysis shows that it is, in fact, a pretty big double: -0.194 equity to not double. But it is also a big take! So I was proud of myself for spotting it.

This next one is shown from my opponent’s perspective. I’m up against Franklin (who became my main nemesis for the weekend, beating me in 3 separate events). The score is 3-3 in a match to 7, and he offered me a cube.

Screenshot 2022-09-06 8.47.46 PM

So I’m on the bar, sure, but he has 3 checkers back and not so many rolls that immediately destroy me. 4-4, 3-3, 6-3, 6-1, and 3-1 point on my blot, and then I would really regret the take. But I don’t have a lot going for me either. It dawned on me that he was positioned to win a lot more gammons than I would from this position, and thus win the match. If you just are considering wins/losses, it’s not so bad – I have a bit over 30% winning chances here. But he has about 36% gammons, while I have about 6%! So his “gammon adjusted wins”, which I just recently learned to really respect, are more like 85% than 70%, and it’s a huge drop. Which, I did drop. So, well played, and lost anyway.

I don’t mean to imply that I played flawlessly, and the dice just destroyed me match after match. It certainly felt that way, but I’m sure I made plenty of blunders to help myself into defeat. For instance, this position, which was from my next match with Franklin.

Screenshot 2022-09-06 9.01.28 PM

This is a pretty standard position to redouble. At 0-0, it’s a redouble/take. Unfortunately, the score was 4-0 in a match to 7, which makes it a HUGE no redouble/take & flip. I should have played on – if (as it actually happened) he immediately rolled 5-5 and won the race, no big deal, I’d be up 4-2. If he danced a time or two and I cleared the 6 point, then I’d have a redouble/drop. But as it was, it was a -0.947 deca-blunder to cube here, because he got to flip it back to me before rolling the 5-5.

In spite of my belly-aching, I did have a good time. The event is well run, the staff are all sweethearts, there are a ton of events, and I got to play a lot. I estimate I played 25-30 hours of backgammon over the 3.5 days I was there, and played respectably against a number of Open level players. I even came in second in the Valhalla event (which I had won last year, so second year in a row to cash in it). I connected more with some people I’ve met before, and met several new people who were all very nice. A couple of better rolls and I would have been bragging about how well I did. And that’s backgammon – skill is great, but luck is going to get you. I woke up Sunday morning, and thought “if I have a day where I can’t roll what I need, I’ll also have a day where I can’t miss”. That day didn’t happen at Viking, but the Denver classic is coming right up.


Tour of Patios #4 (there’s no place like home)

For our final tour of patios stop we ended up… at Lucky Lab. Turns out White Owl doesn’t open until 4:00 on Sundays? I do not think that was true when I was originally planning this out, but somehow the bars are all opening later and later as the summer goes on. Fortunately, White Owl is only a couple of blocks from Lucky Lab, and thanks to Dave notifying me early, I was able to get an email out to attendees and hang a sign, etc.

We had 18 people show up to play, although a couple of those were not in the tournament (but I’m told they had fun anyway). We filled 7 4-person brackets! And, Tim and I finished the match from Tour #3! So all in all, quite a successful day.

David and Paul were the big winners of the day, taking two brackets each. Julie and Mir each had their first Tour victory, winning their brackets, and I won the last one. Also Tim won the last one, if by last one, you meant the Tour #3 last one.

David, Paul, and I all won off of massive come-from-behind games. Ed had David down 4-0, Joel had Paul down 4-0, and Tim had me down 4-0 – in all three cases, we won the Crawford game, then gammoned a game with the cube turned to steal victory from the jaws of defeat! Fairly epic, although obviously disappointing for Ed, Joel, and Tim respectively.

Next month, we return to our usual 3-point, double elimination structure. But do not grieve, lovers of 5 point matches! My plan is to switch things up, and alternate between 3-point, double elimination and a longer match, probably single elimination structure – including at least one higher equity 7 or 9 point match event! But as many people miss the double elimination aspect as appreciate the longer match aspect, so I can’t not disappoint someone. We’ll all get by.

Most critically, I’m done trying new locations for a bit – we will stick with Lucky Lab for most of the events for the rest of the year – boring, perhaps, but dependable!

See you next time!


Tour of Patios #3 Results

Backgammon teaches us to deal with uncertainty. Should I make a point, or hit loose? How can I play this 3? What was the score again?

This week’s event really stretched that dealing with uncertainty to the limit. We had a bunch of questions that were very difficult to answer. Does the place open at 3:00, or 4:00? If it opens at 4:00, where do we go instead? And who won that last bracket, anyway?

Some of those we now know the answers to, some are still out there. It did open at 3:00 (promptly), and a pretty large contingent of backgammon fanatics shuffled in, then back out onto the patio. We ended up with 17 players in the tournaments, plus Sande and a few others drifted over from the Second Sunday to hang out and play some more. So all in all, a very nice event (although significantly too hot out!)

We ended up filling 6 brackets, and in contrast with last time, the winners were pretty distributed. In bracket 1, Dave came out on top, Jesse took #2, Cameron the third, JB beat me out for the 4th, and Joel rounded it out with the final win.

If you were carefully counting, I listed 5 winners for 6 brackets. How does that work, you may be wondering? Well, the 6th bracket is not over yet! Tim and I each won in the first round, but by then I was fried and Tim kindly agreed to meet up later to play for the win in that one. Which – has not happened yet, almost a week later. The tension is palpable!

Speaking of tension, here’s a position I captured from my game with Mark A. Here I’m up 2-0 in the match, and he offered me a cube.


I have one checker on the bar, but also an advanced anchor made. So it’s not hopeless. I have been thinking a lot lately about cubes in match play versus cubes in money play. This is a good example – it’s a double/take for money, and I had a good sense of that. The computer says I still have about 29.5% wins, as Mark has to get his back checker out and around, and it will likely take him several moves to cover his 4 point – by which time I will probably escape and maybe hit him back. However, given that it’s a match rather than money, and especially given that I am up in the score – it is a pass. At an even score (0-0), it would be very marginal, but here it was a sizable 13% blunder to take. Fortunately for me, I did not take, but it was the start of Mark’s comeback. Final score in the match was 5-4, and if I recall, it came down to about one roll difference.

The race for Player of the Year continues to swing around with every tournament – after this event, Dave’s 100% win rate suddenly pushed him above Kyle in total wins, and both Mark A and Bodger are still not far behind. It’s still anyone’s guess who will end up on top at the end of the year!

We will go back to our standard double-elimination event tournament structure starting next month as well, but I have lots of suggestions from people for additional events. Tim and Dave want more longer-match format events, Bodger wants to do a speedgammon tournament, Leah has suggested doing a doubles event. I want to try them all, it’s a question of how to fit it all in. I am going to two (2!) national ABT events next month – the Viking Classic in Minnesota, and the Denver Open in (checks notes) Denver. As a result, I’m limited on time to do an extra event real soon. We’ll see what come of it.

Speaking of ABT events – a handful of Portland area players are already members of USBGF (United States Backgammon Federation). You have to be a member to attend an ABT tournament – but there are other benefits as well, such as access to Prime Time magazine, educational videos, etc. If you not already a member, check it out – might be something you want to consider. Maybe we can get a substantial contingent to go to the US Open in Vegas this fall…

See you at the next one!


Backgammon Tour of Patios #2 Results

We had an amazing 21 people show up for this afternoon’s tournaments, playing a total of 8 complete brackets. That is a lot of backgammon! Breakside was a good location – I was a little worried about being right along the street but traffic was very light and it was well shaded. When a breeze came through, it was almost pleasant… Almost. 🙂 Actually it was quite tolerable in spite of the 5th or 6th day of 90 degree plus temperatures.

Learning from my mistakes last time, I held off entering myself into a bracket until I had most everyone else up and running. It made the start easier for me to manage; although it did take a while to get people paired off, it wasn’t an unreasonable wait to get things rolling.

As with last time, more brackets means more winners, but the theme of the day was that winners keep winning. I won two of the brackets myself, as did David, as did Jeremy. The other two were won by Kyle and Tim, respectively.

We had a good amount of people rolling off the brackets and into casual pick-up play, which is as it should be. Play was pretty continuous from before 2:00 until about 5:45. Being at a new location, we also got a good amount of interest from passers-by, who were interested to learn that there is a Portland Metro Backgammon Club. Hopefully a few of them will show up at a future event as participants. One of the “advertising” side effects of the tour – gets people playing backgammon in front of people who don’t come only to our usual haunts…

The event also really shook up the race for Player of the Year. Both Mark A and Bodger had relatively rough days, each playing 3 matches but winning only 1 apiece. On the other hand, Kyle, who has been running hot the past couple of events, had a 100% day… As of this moment, Kyle has jumped past both Mark and Bodger, and with a 68% win rate is the current front-runner for player of the year! But it is really anyone’s guess how it will all end – David and Jeremy are both sporting 60%+ win rates and pretty high # of matches played. If you are up for the challenge, anyone who comes pretty consistently through the rest of the year and wins a lot could easily take the trophy for 2022…

Anyway, it was a good afternoon, I hope everyone had as much fun as I did, and I hope to see you all again in a couple of weeks when we try out Moon & Sixpence. Although – important note – we’re starting that one even later in the day, since they apparently don’t open until 3:00… See you then!


2022 Tour of Patios #1 Results

We had a good turnout for today’s tournaments, 15 players came out for a breezy day of backgammon. 4 of us were there well before the official 2:00 kick-off, and so I had already lost a match before most people showed up… 🙂 David won a backgammon on a 2-cube, for the fastest match win of the day. Ultimately, we ended up with 6.5 4-person brackets, many of us entering more than one bracket as we got knocked out of (or won) our first one… I personally entered three times, getting 4 matches out of the afternoon.

The winners list is: Tim, Carlos, Cameron (our only newcomer for the day), Joel, Paul, and Max. I won the half-tournament (that is, one match), so kind of a silver lining for me.

APEX turns out to have been on our tour of patios a few years ago as well – I got deja vu as I drove up. It’s a good location, and a good beer selection. Parking wasn’t too bad on a Sunday, and Mark A really liked it, as it is walking distance for him. But it is limited in drink options, and I heard quite a bit about finding a place with some more options for next time. Well, the next one will have food options at least, but it is a brewery. Hope to see you then anyway.


June 2022 Backgammon Tournament Results

We had a good turnout for today’s overheated tournament. I arrived early to do the pre-tournament “lesson”, but none of the RSVP’s showed. Robert T, when he arrived, suggested we move inside since the AC was keeping it substantially cooler there, and so we did. I played some warm-up matches that maybe count as lessons with him and a couple of others as people trickled in. As it hit 1:00, we had 17 players, and so I was prepared to do one play-in match in one bracket; but 3 more people showed up in the next minutes. So we ultimately had 20 players; which I broke unevenly into an 8 person and a 12 person bracket.

In the 8 person bracket, first round had JB over Julie, Kyle over newcomer Leslie, newcomer Jason over newcomer Carrie,and Steve S. over Bob H. Ultimately Kyle won the main bracket over Steve, Kyle’s second tournament win for the year I believe. Bob H fought his way back to win the consolation bracket.

In the 12 person bracket, first round had Max over Bryan, David over Chris (back for his first post-pandemic live event), me over Stevie Ray (who drove all the way from Beaverton only to get stuck by the train a few blocks from the Lucky Lab), Mark A over Robert T, Joel over Aaron, and Bodger over Jesse. My match with Steve was a nail-biter – I won the first game, he won the second, and the third game looked like it could go either way. Second round, I faced off against Bodger – it was a one-game match as the cube ended up on 4. Third round I faced off against Joel. First game, I doubled him out early. Second game, same story, although it was harder to get to that point. Game three, Joel really should have won, but I rolled double-6 twice during the bear-off, and stole it from him. In the final, I faced off against David. Once again, we had a tight match. I took the first game, David took the second, and with how the rolls turned out we did not have the usual automatic double until well into the game. David’s board crunched as I had one of his checkers trapped behind a prime; but once he escaped the race was very tight. Fortunately for me, the doubles came around again and I pulled off the win. In the consolation bracket, Mark A eventually triumphed over Stevie Ray.

Next month we begin the summer series. The tournaments will be a slightly different format – longer matches, smaller brackets, different arenas, and a little more frequency – every other week once we start. Look forward to seeing you all there!


LA-la-land 2022

I spent this past weekend in LA for the 45th annual Los Angeles Open. This was my third time in LA, and Candace puts on a good show. It’s one of the easiest tournaments for those of us in the Portland area to get to as well – multiple direct flights daily, the hotel is super close to the airport, etc. And this year, they hosted the annual USBGF awards dinner (although I did not attend that).

Portland had a good showing, with David and Max coming as well, and Bryan came down from Seattle at the last minute after I agreed to let him bunk with me. David and Max went down for the jackpots on Thursday, but Bryan and I both got in on Friday morning. It is more fun having a crew of people you know around, although it sometimes leads to unfortunate pairings, as when Max and Bryan faced off against one another in the 2nd round of the main. That, by the way, is foreshadowing…

My first match went fairly quickly – my opponent, Raid, was not used to the doubling cube, but was excellent with his checker play. So I got to enter (and lose) a number of blitz matches for the rest of the afternoon. I also got a couple of rounds into the DMP – an event I trophied in at my last LA appearance – not to brag. That, by the way, is also foreshadowing…

Round 2 I faced off against Ron, who had trounced me in one of the blitzes earlier in the day. Fortunately, I was able to turn that around in the main; taking the first game and never losing the lead from there. After an especially lucky doubled gammon got us to Crawford (8-2), he pulled back, but I was able to finish him in the game after that. My next opponent was coming out of the 4 unlucky souls who had an anti-buy in the Round 2 draw, so I was able to head up to bed early to finish my first day.

First thing the next morning, I faced off against Babak, who had stayed up late the night before to get to Round 3. We had a good match, with a lot of back and forth. This was his first tournament as well, and he ultimately did quite well – cashing in fact.

From there, I was suddenly in payback mode for having an easy day on Friday – my match was always the one holding up the tournament, and so my next opponent was always waiting for me for the rest of the afternoon. Normally, it’s easy enough to sneak off for a sandwich or something at some point; but I subsisted on some almonds and lots of stress.

Round 4, I played Stephen, brother of Art, who was being inducted into the hall of fame later that day. Stephen is not as much of a backgammon player as his brother, but he was definitely one of my harder matches of the weekend! I have a couple of positions from that match to look at.

In this first position, from our 5th game, I am down 1-4 in the match to 9. After quite a bit of mutual hitting, I am coming off the bar with a roll of 1-4. But, what to do with it?

Screenshot 2022-06-13 4.25.17 PM

At issue, I have 3 blots scattered around the board, in addition to the one coming off the bar. That’s my biggest problem at the moment, and this roll lets me take care of two of them, just… which two? I can play bar/20, giving me two points on his home board, but too advanced for a backgame. Or, I can play bar/24, 13/9 – preventing any additional checkers from being sent back just now, but also giving him a few rolls that extend his 3-prime in front of those back checkers. Finally, there’s also a potential hitting play, if I don’t mind adding yet another blot to the mix. I actually thought about that one, but rejected it pretty easily, which is good as that’s a massive blunder.

Ultimately I went with bar/20. Stephen commented that this was the kind of position where you struggle and struggle, and it doesn’t make much of a difference – and that’s exactly correct! Based on rollout, bar/20 is wrong… by -0.001!

The next position is two games later, and I’ve fought my way back to a 5-4 lead. I cubed him earlier in the game, and now have a 5-6 to play.

Screenshot 2022-06-13 4.42.08 PM

The question at hand is: hit or not? 11/5*, 13/8 puts him on the bar, and gives me a good chance to gammon him and win the match right here. On the other hand, it gives him a chance to roll a 5 (or a 3-2, or a 4-1), put me behind his 6 prime, and potentially win a gammon himself. The more passive play, 13/7, 11/6, still has some potential to point on him the next roll, and is not so terrible – I will have 8 cross-overs before I can bear off versus 7 for him, but then he has a bit of wastage with the checkers on his 3 & 4 points. I did the chicken move, he escaped with a 5 on the next roll, and I felt like I dodged a bullet. But my play was wrong by quite a bit! -0.06 error to not hit…

The final position from that match is two games later, where I am now down 5-7 (I told you there was a lot of back-and-forth!). This was another one with a lot of hitting, but mostly me hitting him – and then him not dancing. Question is, should I now double?

Screenshot 2022-06-13 5.48.47 PM

Yes, yes I should. Down 5-7 in a match to 9 means I’m 4 away, he’s 2 away. That’s a special score, the trailer has good doubles from positions that are too weak to double in a cash game or an early match score; exactly this position for instance. Good double, easy take. Not doubling is only a -0.036 error, so it’s not obvious. I am moderately proud of myself for finding it.

After this game, the score stood at 7-7, and we stopped for an extended period to determine that (a) the winner was guaranteed to cash, (b) the loser could still cash as well, and (c) the straight dollar amount to hedge was therefore complicated. At the advice of Pat Gibson (tournament director extraordinaire) we did a final % swap – that is, we would ultimately trade 20% of each other’s final cash position. I had already traded Bryan a 10% equity swap before the tournament started, meaning I was now down to keeping only 70% of any cash I won. But Bryan and Stephen were both still in the running to place ahead of me, so not too shabby.

I went on to win the DMP game based on a late hit, followed by an escape, another hit, ultimately a race, and getting multiple doubles in the bear-off. In other words, backgammon at it’s finest.

Then, without much of a pause for breath, I went on to play Brian V for the semi-finals. We also agreed to a 20% equity swap, which in retrospect was not necessary. It was a pretty drawn out match, but it was again one where I took an early lead and never lost it. As that wrapped up, I had played for roughly 6.5 hours straight. So, all in all, a pretty good day!

The next day, I had a little wait to get my final opponent, but I knew it was one of two people: either Babak (who I had defeated in round 3), or my roommate for the weekend, Bryan! For years we’ve been saying “See you at the final table” at the start of a tournament, and now it had finally happened! Because Bryan smoked Babak in their match… I got a photo of us sitting down to play before the match began:


And it was a great match. I took the first game, Bryan took the second and third. I regained the lead with a doubled win in game four, Bryan tied it back up in game 5. Game 6, Bryan sent me reeling with a doubled gammon, putting him up 7-3. I don’t know the match equity table well enough – it’s possible that’s a score where I should have been aggressive with the cube, but I was afraid to throw it, and anyway he won the game, putting me at 3-8 Crawford! With my back against the wall, I played as aggressively as I could, and survived to be 4-8 post-Crawford. In the next game, I of course doubled immediately, and got to the following position.

Screenshot 2022-06-13 8.34.42 PM

This was the point where I felt the most pressure on a single move probably for the whole weekend. What I wrote down as my move doesn’t make sense, but best I can recall, I played in 14/8, 13/10(2). The alternative I was mainly considering was 14/8, 21/15; but I also thought about 21/15, 13/10(2) for quite a long while. Turns out, those are the three top moves, and I picked the middle one. I’ll leave it as a puzzle for the reader to decide which was better…

Fortunately for me, I ended up winning a gammon on that game, and Bryan and I were at 8-8 post-Crawford – a DMP for the championship! It was another back-and-forth kind of game, too – he was massively up, I got a late hit, got to start bearing off, left a blot, he hit it, came around, and we got down to a very tight race. I don’t remember the exact details, but it was not a lock until the very last roll – where Bryan cleared his last two checkers to my one checker on the ace point! So congratulations to Bryan, the 2022 Los Angeles Advanced Champion!


I’ll get him next time… 🙂

I played a few more side events, and ended up cashing in the DMP again, although I had to leave for my flight before all the brackets for that event had finished. So all in all, my best performance yet at an ABT event, and the fourth ABT event in a row that I brought home some kind of trophy (“Finalist” in this case, but I’ll take it). If I keep this up, they’re going to kick me up into the Open bracket, and I won’t win anything for another 5-6 years. But that’s ok – I’m happiest of all that I’m still getting better at the game as time goes on.



May 2022 Backgammon Tournament Results

We had a fair showing for this month’s tournament, in spite of the fabulous weather – 14 players showed up for the event. It was mostly an array of the usual suspects, but we had two new participants: Cici (who came last month but too late to get into the draw), and Bart (who came over from Enterprise specifically and only to play backgammon, but then too also to play trumpet at a gig later in the day).

14 does not quite make two perfect brackets, and so we had a 6/8 split. In the “A” bracket, I faced off against Matt H, Bodger took on Max, and Mark A drew Dave. Note that Dave, Max, and I were the only three in the side pool this month, and all three of us lost our first round match! I promised a second round bye to whichever pair finished first, and Bodger took that prize. Mark A defeated Matt in the second round, but then lost to Bodger in the final. This was a critical match, in that both players now have 13 2022 tournament matches, and they are nearly tied in wins: 10 versus 9 after today. I won’t reveal who is ahead, but these two are clearly the front runners for “Player of the Year 2022”. In the consolation bracket, I beat out Dave and Matt beat out Max, leading to Matt and I having a rematch in the consolation final! Fortunately for me, I was able to reverse my first round results, and beat out Matt in our second face-off. As he noted, he’d had a few more beers by that point, which probably helped me.

In the “B” bracket, the draw pitched newcomers Bart and Cici against one another, then Paola versus Nathan, Richard versus Terry (who is not a newcomer, but this was his first one back in a long while), and Dirk versus Steve. Second round had Cici versus Steve, and Nathan versus Terry; then in the final it was Steve taking first place over Terry. In the consolation bracket, in a repeat of the “A” bracket, Cici and Bart met again for the consolation championship! But sadly for Bart, he was not able to reverse the results of the first round, and Cici took the consolation championship.

Hopefully we’ll get used to blue skies and warm weather, and also fewer people will have sniffles, and we’ll get back to some higher numbers in the future. But summer has a lot of other attractions, and it’s normal for our numbers to dip for the season. I’ll try to make it more attractive to people by providing some changes of scenery and maybe even some different formats for the summer series. Stay tuned, I’ll let you know once I figure out what I mean by that. Until next time, roll on!