San Antonio 2019

I spent last weekend at the ABT tournament in San Antonio. I feel like I played well, but I definitely didn’t do well – made back about $5 on chouettes though, so there’s that. But one thing I did achieve was I took more photos of positions and took better notes than I’ve done in prior tournaments. I got it down to where I was pretty consistent about recording the match score, what I was doing, and what I decided to go with. This gives me a load of material to examine my blunders of the weekend!

Here’s the first:


This is from Friday night, my first draw was Candace, who is the producer of the LA tournaments. We had an excellent match overall, and a long one – went almost 2 1/2 hours! Anyway – this is game 1, and my first cube of the tournament. I had gone in with the mantra of “don’t be greedy” – trying to break my habit of going for a gammon and instead losing by one. This seemed like a perfect example. But no, the double is a 0.113 blunder! I’m too good, at 85% wins/28% gammons. She correctly dropped, and I congratulated myself on a strong start to the event.

Of course, I didn’t only make blunders with cube decisions. I occasionally blew a checker play as well, as in this example:


Here I’m playing CJ, part of a fairly large group of Brits who had come over for the event, thus the UKBGF board. I’m heading to the bottom left, and have double fives. I agonized over whether or not to run the checker off the 23 point to the 13. Eventually I decided against that, and played 13/3, 8/3(2). Only a -0.085 error! Of course, the 23/13, 8/3(2) that I was weighing that against is also slightly inferior to 23/18, 13/3, 8/3. But at least the play I passed over wasn’t the very best play.

That was not, incidentally, my only blunder off a double against a British opponent. The next morning, in my first match of the last chance, against Steve, I rolled double fours in the following position:


I got the first one right – bar/21. I even got the second one right, 9/5*. But then I got stuck. I eventually took 13/5 to cover the blot. But I should have done 9/5*(2), and then slotted! My play is -0.124 compared to slotting the 2 point. Ah, well.

Not every play I made was wrong, however. For example, in this position, I’m playing Peggy (who, it happens, had knocked me out of the last chance in Vegas in 2017), and I’m up 3-0 in the 5 point match. IMG_20190203_135558

Clearly, I’m a monster favorite, the question is, am I too good to double? I spent a good amount of time thinking about it, recounted at least once, and ultimately decided to play on. Barely correct, but correct! No double is the +1.016 equity play, meaning I’m accurate within 1.6%. Super sharp decision maker!

Or not. My next match, I had an early blitz position to play, double 5’s put Roman on the bar, and he danced, leaving us here:


I doubled, he dropped. It was too good, +1.026, I should have played on. But – this was my main learning moment for the weekend. In two prior matches, I had been the one on the bar in the comparable position, and had taken both times, and had been gammoned for 4. So, I had reason to believe that someone might take this one, and as Phil Simborg says, your opponent can’t make a cube error if you don’t offer it.

All in all, I had a good time, played probably better than I did in Vegas last fall, and I can’t say I have regrets. I’m going to aim for two more ABT events this year – if you haven’t played in one before, it’s a good way to get a lot of time over the board with a wide variety of opponents. Away from the boards, everyone is very friendly and fun. Over the boards, of course, even more so.