November 2022 Backgammon Tournament Results

We had an excellent turnout for this month’s tournament – 26 players showed up on a cold wet afternoon to play some gammon! There were a handful of new players, a handful of people who haven’t been out in a while, and a slew of the usual suspects. Competition remains hot for the coveted 2022 Player of the Year award, and a number of people were specifically gunning to up their winning percentages for the year as we come close to finishing it out… More on that in a bit.

We split into 3 brackets, which was not a perfect set-up, but best we could do with the high numbers who showed up. A couple of people have asked, so here’s a brief explanation of the process I use for that. First of all, I put all of the players who opt into one or both side pools into a single bracket if possible. So far, it always has been – if we get more than 8 players in the side pools, I may have to revisit the approach. Then the remainder of the list I break into different brackets using an A-B-A-B kind of scheme. Then I use the random number generator list to pair people within each bracket. This time, I only had 6 players in the side pools, so I randomly assigned a couple of additional (and in my opinion stronger) players into that bracket as well. If we had been just shy of 3 full brackets, I might have done something different, splitting the byes between brackets or whatever. But that’s more or less the process – hope that answers more questions than it raises.

Anyway – in the “A” bracket, we started off with Paul versus Pete, David versus Molly, Mark A versus Max, and Kyle versus me. In all those pairings, the first person listed won the first match. Paul went on to beat Kyle in the final, and I fought my way through the consolation bracket to beat out Pete for the tie-for-second.

In the “B” bracket round 1, Sande beat out Bodger, Richard defeated newcomer Mazda, Steve knocked out Rick D, and Andres won over newcomer Gary. Andres and Richard went on to the finals, with Andres coming out on top. In the consolation bracket, Mazda came back to win.

In the “C” bracket, Leah won over Matt, Cam beat Joel, Philip beat Mir, Jenny beat newcomer Rob A, and Jesse beat out Julie. That was 5 pairings instead of 4, and so there were some complicated second/third round byes imposed to try to keep it fair. Ultimately Leah beat out Philip in the final; with Cam squeaking by Jenny to take the Consolation title.

Now, about Player of the Year. There is trophy on the way, and I believe I will have it physically present at the December tournament. At that point, I expect to have an up-to-date list of everyone who is in the running, and to do an on the fly update calculation to determine the winner and present that trophy. Exciting, no?

I am slightly modifying the conditions compared to last year. The idea is to award the player who has the best record for wins & attendance of events. If it was just the best win/loss ratio, Carlos would be the front runner, but he only attended two events! David has an edge from the participation perspective, having missed only one tournament all year. Rick D and Kyle P are both top candidates based on win/loss ratio. It’s really very much up in the air! Come out to the December event to see what happens!


Road to Vegas Part 2, and then also Vegas

I never posted an update for the second part of the “Road to Vegas” tournament, and then I went off to Vegas for the actual tournament. So here we go. The next round had me over Mir, and David over Bodger. David wanted to immediately start a chouette, so we chopped the prize money and played a one-point match for the title, which David won!

Then, you know, Vegas. Paul went down on Tuesday, but Max, Dave, Tim, and I were all on the same flight heading down on Wednesday. Not one to let transportation get in the way of playing backgammon, we started a chouette at the PDX airport.


I know, I know, but really we only played a couple of games.

Wednesday was the Jackpot day – Paul was playing in the “Limited” (which he made it 3 rounds deep), the rest of us in the “Intermediate”. David and Max drew each other in the qualifier round, and then again (after a re-entry) in the first round! Rory told me that he swore to redraw the main ABT if they got each other a third time… Anyway, Tim made it the furthest of any of us in that event, eventually losing in the semi-finals to Tigran, who had just defeated David as well, and who went on to win the event!

The coolest thing about that is that Tim’s last match ended up on the streaming of the event – if you want to watch him go down, go to about 3:54:00 into this link:

In the ABT event, the PDX pack managed to avoid running into each other until the semi-finals of the Consolation bracket, where I faced off against David. Not to trash-talk, but you know – easiest win of the event. 🙂

Here’s one of a couple of cube decisions I faced in a pivotal match, my first game in the Consolation. This is early on, I am down 0-1 in a match to 9 (and so 9-away, 8-away). I had cubed my opponent earlier, it was going well, but then he got a lucky shot and sent one of my checkers back. I re-entered, and he flipped the cube to me at 4:

Screenshot 2022-11-22 3.21.29 PM

I think I miscounted the race, because I took. My thought was that I just had to escape the one checker, then I ought to be able to outrun him, but I am actually down 10 pips in the race, and it was a -0.224 blunder to take! Nonetheless, I did escape the back checker and outrun him to win the game. So better to be lucky than good.

It gets worse. A couple of games later, I was up 4-2, turned the cube to him (correctly, I think, didn’t record the position so let’s assume I knew what I was doing please), and in the bear-off, he flipped it back to me at 4:

Screenshot 2022-11-22 3.29.53 PM

My thinking here was that he has 4 rolls to bear off, maybe 4.5 if he is unlucky and rolls a 3. I am off in 3 – so long as those three rolls are all 4’s, 5’s, and 6’s. But that’s equivalent to winning three coin tosses in a row, so 12.5%, and if one of them misses I probably am off in 4. So it’s sort of like a 4-roll to 4-roll situation. Well, apparently I am wrong about that, because it was a -0.415 blunder to take! I am, in fact, 13.1% to win, which is above my 3-coin-flips thinking, but not by very much. However, I did win 3 coin flips in a row, and took the game, very unfairly.

In the final of the consolation, I faced off against Lynn, who runs the New York ABT tournament. We spent a good amount of time at the start of the match negotiating the split of the prize money – the way it had worked out was that we were both in the side pool, and so the winner would get 1st for the side pool, and the loser would get half of the 2nd place in the side pool, because half of 2nd was going to whoever made it furthest in the main bracket. Normally there is a 2:1 ratio in the payout, but there was almost as much side pool money as entry pool money, so the default was almost 3:1. We negotiated it down to a 65/35 split, and then almost finished the match in the first game. I cubed her early in the game, she flipped it back to me at 4 a while later, and as we got to the bear-off, I gave it back to her at 8 (which would get us to Crawford!) in the following position:

Screenshot 2022-11-22 3.44.21 PM

I was not sure if it was a take or a pass, given how much wastage I have; but Lynn successfully found the drop. However, it is a good double! It would have been a -0.027 error to not redouble it to 8 here.

I had one other tough double in the match, a couple of games later, leading 5-0 in our match to 9, I chose to offer the cube from this position:

Screenshot 2022-11-22 3.53.09 PM

Again, a -0.017 error if I had not doubled! So I am pretty pleased with myself for finding this one. Alas for Lynn, it was a drop, but she took, probably thinking that the score swung it far enough to take the chance.

That game put me up 7-0, and I started celebrating too soon. Lynn exploited my overconfidence to win the next game, putting us to 7-1. She then took the next game with the cube turned to put us 7-3. Then 7-5, then 7-7. At that point, I suggested we revisit the negotiated split of the prize money, and we agreed to just chop the prize money and play only for the trophy.

At 7-7 in a match to 9, you are supposed to throw the cube early – it’s almost impossible to it to not be a double-take. However, we kept ending in positions where the race was pretty even, there were no blots to shoot at, and it would have taken some thought to decide if the person on roll was actually up or down. Like we opened with her playing 3-1, and I thought, well, I’m down, so why bother. Then I rolled 6-5, and she thought, well, I’m down in the race, so why bother. And it just kept going on like that – rolls where it would have been correct to double and correct to take, and neither of us did, until we were 20 moves or more into the game! Finally, we got to the following position, and I belatedly threw the cube:

Screenshot 2022-11-22 4.03.21 PM

Here, it is finally a double and a pass! Lynn passed, and then beat me by a gammon in the Crawford game, to win the match 9-8, after starting out down 7-0! Super exciting match, to be sure.

After that, it was time to head to the airport, where we resumed a chouette until time to board the plane, because hey, why else were we in Vegas?

All in all, it was a fantastic (if slightly exhausting) tournament. It was my second time cashing in an Intermediate event this year, and so I am (voluntarily) moving myself up to the Open level, where I will very likely take another 4-5 years before I get to cash again. But maybe I’ll have time for more side events again… 🙂 Paul cashed in approximately all the side events, plus Tim cashed in the Jackpot, so it was all around the best showing for the Portland crew ever.


Road to Vegas Part 1

We had a great turnout for our unofficial satellite tournament – 9 people showed up to play. Mark S, who hasn’t shown up for a couple of years, came up from Salem; and I finally connected the dots that User 367848122 is Mir. David brought his (very nice) new board, and there were enough clocks to go around.

Nine is, you may know, one more than eight, which is how many people I expected/hoped for – so we started out with controversy and trouble right away by having a play-in round. Max and Paul drew the short straws for that, which meant Bodger had the short straw of having to wait for their match to finish before he could play at all.

Suffice it to say, there were delays.

In spite of that, some backgammon was played. David, Mark S, and I all won our first round matches. David and Mark S then played their second round match. In the meantime, Paul was getting the most out of his time bank in his play-in match against Max. When I started tracking, he was down to about 46 seconds of time bank left. At the end of the match, he had 8.8 seconds – and the win. Paul then sat down to face Bodger, and I joined into a lovely little chouette with David and Mark S. Mir and Kyle faced off in the preliminary consolation bracket, Tim and Max did the “play-in” of the consolation (so Max got stuck with two play-in rounds, which is a little rough), and we were hours in with very clearly hours to go to finish it out!

Paul beat Bodger, and then he and I were set to face off. Mark S negotiated a hedge with both Paul and I, that whoever he faced off in the final would just split the prize money 50-50, then conceded the final and asked for his payout.

My match against Paul ended up being very interesting, especially in cube action. Here’s two cube decisions from a critical game. I’m leading 5-1 at this point, and holding the cube at two.

Screenshot 2022-11-05 10.04.21 PM

The critical thing here is that I’m leading 5-1. I redoubled, Paul snapped it up, but it was a massive -0.262 triple-blunder to redouble here! In a money game, or an even match score, this is a fine cube; but giving up the cube gives him the potential for a very powerful recube. If the cube was centered, it would even be a fine initial cube.

I am still, obviously, wrapping my head around the complexities of the cube in certain match score situations. For instance, this position, which happened a few rolls later. I’m still leading 5-1, but now Paul has the cube at 4, and I had been forced to leave him a turn-around shot…

Screenshot 2022-11-05 10.12.04 PM

I was shocked when Paul turned the cube to 8. He only has 4’s and 3-1 to hit, so 13 out of 36 rolls. Of course, in those 13 situations, it’s terrible for me, but 23 out of 36 I win the match off this cube. So I snatched it up, and Paul rolled 46 I believe.

So was Paul insane to ship it here? No! It’s a good recube, in spite of the fact that he is only 35.1% to win! After turning the cube, he is -0.021 equity, versus if he did not double, he is at -0.179 equity. For me, in turn, it is a -1.021 blunder should I happen to drop (which I didn’t, otherwise how could he have rolled 46 and gone on to win 8 points on this game?)

Paul credited his tutor for teaching him about this position, which I still can’t fully comprehend. One day…

I fought my way partly back, but ultimately lost the match to Paul 11-7. So Paul ends up as our main bracket champion, with Mark S in second.

The fun will continue in one week, when we reconvene to finish the consolation bracket. We will start off with me facing off against Mir, and David playing Bodger. It should be a logistically and timing-wise much easier affair, so come out and watch and join in some of the post-match chouette/whatever else. See you there!


October 2022 Backgammon Tournament Results

We had a respectable, if slightly down from average, showing for today’s tournament. The sun was out, the breeze was cool, and we all know the rains are coming soon; so I was not surprised that a lot of people were opting for some other kind of adventure, probably outdoors. Still, we had a dozen people show up to play some backgammon – not bad given that I changed up the day as well.

We ended up splitting into two brackets – 4 of us who had entered the side pools played a 7-point, single elimination bracket, while the other 8 did our traditional 3-point, double elimination style.

In the “high equity” pool, I started off playing David. He had me down out the gate – turning around the first game after I had cubed him to a point where he could ship it back to me, and I had to drop. I got a quick win in the second game, but then lost the third, before starting to grind my way back. I pulled the score back up to 3-3, then won a cubed game to pull ahead 5-3, and had a very lucky gammon in the last game to finish it off. We proceeded to play a few games heads-up while waiting for Paul and Max to finish. Max came out on top in that one, and so the two of us faced off. It started out very similar to my match with David, with me down 0-2, then down 0-4, before beginning to claw my way back. I scratched out a single win, then a double, then another single to get it to 4-4. Then we had a dramatic final, where I offered an early cube, Max turned the game around on me, and then I turned it back around on him, managing a lucky gammon to finish the match.

In the main bracket, round one had Rick over Mary, Joel over Jesse, JB over Mir, and Bodger over Tim. Bodger and Rick proceeded to march forward to the final, with Rick coming out on top, for his second straight undefeated appearance at one of our tournaments! With that win, Rick has shot up to an impressive 76.5% win rate for tournament matches this year, making him the clear front-runner for the coveted “Player of the Year” award. That race is far from over, however – recall that someone has to attend at least half the (regular) tournaments for the year and have the best record to win the prize, and Rick just barely is making the attendance requirement. Plus there are a handful of players (David, Mark A, Kyle, Bodger, Jeremy…) who also have high winning records and much more consistent participation. It could go to almost any of them at this point.

In the consolation bracket, Jesse had a revenge match against Joel. Jesse reported that in their first match, Joel had won the match off a situation where he had an 8 out of 36 chance of making a critical hit; so Jesse was looking for payback. Joel accepted his loss with his usual good sportsmanship and grace, of course.

A handful of us stayed behind to play a post-tournament chouette, which was boisterous and fun as well, and gave me a chance to redistribute my winnings from the tournament (and then some). Next event on the calendar is the “Road to Vegas” series, which currently has 7 people signed up and I really hope we get 1 more. There will also be a regular tournament somewhere in November, likely the weekend after Thanksgiving. See you then!


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!