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.