Thursday, July 04, 2024

Colorado Backgammon Club

I stumbled upon the Colorado Backgammon Club in June during my birthday celebration at Hangar 101.  My daughter and I went to play pool and was reminded by the waitress that the bar was 18+ after 8 PM.  Mark was kind enough to chime in quietly that he had never seen anyone asked to leave.  He was wearing a backgammon shirt and we struck up a conversation.  He mentioned a couple of books and some youtubers that were worth watching.  I decided to park the thought.

Around comes July and I decided to RSVP on meetup and meet the group.  10 people were in attendance.  I cannot remember all of their names but Matt, Dan (Ike), Jan, Mark, Myra and Avi were among the bunch.  The two women were part of couples who played together.  A friendly, if somewhat rowdy bunch.

Prior to matches kicking off and all through the evening, Chouettes were in progress.  These are hard to describe, but are in affect team games with a captain, box and supporting cast.  The roles are designated by a rolls of the dice prior to starting.  Essentially, we are playing for $5/point and the team can start collaborating after the double.

The tournament is double elimination.  I played the first match to 7 points and the next two to 5 points.  Each game is worth one point, unless doubled (and a decision made to drop/take).  A gammon is worth double points and the extremely rare backgammon is worth triple points.  When one player is within a point of winning the match, the Crawford rule takes over and the doubling cube is not used.  There is also a 14 min and then 12 minute clock for matches.  Finally, a dice tumbler can be used and if using cups then 3 shakes of the cup must occur prior to rolling.

Match 1 (vs Matt to 7) - Lost first game after being doubled (0-2), Gammoned the second game after being doubled (0-6), Won third game with Crawford (1-6), Won forth game, Matt dropped after I doubled (2-6), Lost fifth game (2-7)

Match 2 (vs Dan to 5) - Not quite sure what happened, but won the match

Match 3 (vs Jan to 5) - I think we got to 1-4, I won the Crawford and she one the last game

I was done with tournament play by 11 AM.  The consolation bracket would likely go another hour.  The bar itself was hopping with lots of people bowling and playing pool.  I enjoyed the backgammon but was definitely outmatched.

During the Chouettes, I noticed people counting up points to determine when to double.  There is also a PRT model for doubling.  Finally, there is a tool called eXtreme Gammon (XG) which players use to analyze matches and play against the computer.  It is $60, but I would have to get a laptop to load it onto.  Myra highly endorsed it and said that competitive players could spend 20 hours per week training and analyzing their game.  One player actually recorded his game to load into XG later.

I am going to start with Backgammon Boot Camp and a US Backgammon Federation (USBGF) membership and go from there.

I do have to say a few words about the boards.  The boards and checkers they used were extremely nice and I am considering upgrading my set.  Most folks also had a clock (or clock app on their phones), dice baffle box and scoreboard.  My favorite score system was the deck of cards.  The nicest checkers were the 1-3/4" Nickel-Trimmed with leatherette accent.  They for for $99.95/15 checkers.  The marbleized plastic are $20/15 checkers.  The Wycliff boards go for $295.  1-3/16" doubling cubes are $18.  Baffle boxes from AP Backgammon Shop are $60, Leap Clocks are $16, Scoreboards are $30.  Myra had the nicest clock which was a ZmartFun II Digital Check Clock ($40 on Amazon).

My set is a very reasonable $95 tournament sized set with 1.5 inch (3/8" thick) checkers, 5/8" dice, 3/4" cube.  The only caveat is that the field surface is not the ultrasmooth we were playing on and the checkers were lighter in weight.

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