USBGF Board of Directors Election — Please Vote

If you have’t yet voted in the USBGF Board of Directors Election, please do so. The link to the voting page is: USBGF Board of Directors Ballot. All members are eligible to vote. The poll will close at 11:59 p.m. EST, Monday, December 3, 2018. Each member may submit only one ballot. A member must be logged onto the USBGF website to be able to vote.

Six candidates, including four incumbents, are vying for four seats up for election. The six candidates are: Jeb Horton, Carter Mattig, Tara Mendicino (incumbent), Bill Riles (incumbent), Marty Storer (incumbent), and Frank Talbot (incumbent). The left side of the voting page contains a ballot with the six candidate names in random order. The right side of the voting page contains an alphabetical accordion listing of the candidates. By clicking on a candidate name on the accordion file, a member may see a photograph of the candidate and an informational/biographical statement submitted by the candidate.

There are four seats up for election. A member may vote for a minimum of one to a maximum of four candidates. A candidate may not receive more than one vote from a member. A member should select every candidate for whom they are voting prior to hitting the submit button.

The four candidates receiving the most votes will be elected, provided they are named on at least 50% of the ballots. If one or more of the top four vote recipients are not named on at least 50% of the ballots, a run-off election will be held including twice the number of candidates as the number of unfilled seats. As an example, if #4 and #5 (in terms of votes received) are not named on at least 50% of the ballots then #4 and #5 will appear on the runoff ballot. There will be only one runoff. The top vote recipient will fill the remaining seat provided he/she is named on at least 50% of the ballots. If, in the runoff, a ‘winning’ candidate is not named on at least 50% of the ballots cast, the corresponding Board seat will remain vacant until the next election.

The Board of Directors is excited by the opportunity provided all members to participate in the Board selection process. This voting process embodies our desire for an open, transparent, democratic, and participatory membership organization. We hope all members take the time to exercise their voting rights and carefully consider each candidate.

USBGF members and members of the Board of Directors may, as individuals, make any comments they wish, in any manner, related to the election and to the candidates. However, we request no comments be made by anyone that imply endorsement or opinion of the USBGF.

Should you have any difficulties in voting or have any questions regarding the voting process, please submit an e-mail to nominations@usbgf.org.

Results will be announced Tuesday, December 4, 2018.

New Women’s Online Circuit Series!

We’ve launched a new online series for women backgammon players. This 32-player single elimination tournament starts with 13-point matches, building to a 17-point final. Register by clicking here. Compete for recognition as the leading woman on the USBGF Circuit!

For additional tournaments in registration, including FTH Blitzes, Masters, Advanced, and Intermediate Divisional events, Monthly Circuit, and Membership Blitz events, please see our Online Circuit tournament calendar.

Winners of all online tournaments in 2018 will compete in a Tournament of Champions in 2019!

USBGF ADVANCED DIVISIONAL LVII

ehom_headshot (1)

Congratulations to Erwin Hom, winner of the Advanced Divisional LVII. Erwin defeated David Parks in the 17-point final. Michael Riahi and William Dugan finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final.

The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration. See latest online standings:
Leader Board.

USBGF ADVANCED DIVISIONAL LVI

WallerSteven-2015

Congratulations to Steven Waller, winner of the Advanced Divisional LVI. Steve defeated Kat Denison in the 17-point final. Zarrir Abede Jr. and Tom Courts finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final.

The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration. See latest standings:
Leader Board.

Second Founding Sponsor Jackpot Now Open for Registration!

We’re delighted by the response to the new Founding Sponsor Jackpot Series. The first field of 16 filled quickly so we’re pleased to announce that registration for Founding Sponsor Jackpot #2 is now open. Just click here to register.

The series is designed to express our appreciation to Founding Sponsors who have provided core support for the U.S. Backgammon Federation All Founding Sponsors — Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond may participate. First place prize is a free entry for the Founding Sponsor and partner in the 2019 Tournament of Stars doubles event to be held at the Cherry Blossom Backgammon Championship in the Washington DC area May 9-12 (value $200). Or the winner may elect to receive a $200 credit toward a Founding Sponsor level upgrade. In addition, both the winner and losing finalist will receive one free entry into the next available FTH Board Blitz tournament.

The tournament format will consist of single-elimination, 16-player brackets. All rounds will be 11 points in length. Match logs will be required at the time of reporting. The tournament will start as soon as the 16-player bracket has been filled.

If you would like information on becoming a USBGF Founding Sponsor, see our website or contact me at: Karen Davis.

The tournament is directed by Tara Mendicino Tara Mendicino and Jeff Proctor Jeff Proctor.

New Online Tournament for Founding Sponsors!

To express our appreciation to Founding Sponsors who have provided core support for the U.S. Backgammon Federation, we are pleased to announce a new free online tournament series for our Founding Sponsors. All Founding Sponsors — Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond may participate. First place prize is a free entry for the Founding Sponsor and partner in the 2019 Tournament of Stars doubles event to be held at the Cherry Blossom Backgammon Championship in the Washington DC area May 9-12 (value $200). Or the winner may elect to receive a $200 credit toward a Founding Sponsor level upgrade. In addition, both the winner and losing finalist will receive one free entry into the next available FTH Board Blitz tournament.

The tournament format will consist of single-elimination, 16-player brackets. All rounds will be 11 points in length. Match logs will be required at the time of reporting. The tournament will start as soon as the 16-player bracket has been filled.

If you would like information on becoming a USBGF Founding Sponsor, see our website or contact me at: Karen Davis.

The tournament is directed by Tara Mendicino Tara Mendicino and Jeff Proctor Jeff Proctor.

For additional tournaments in registration, including FTH Blitzes, Masters, Advanced, and Intermediate Divisional events, Monthly Circuit, Women’s Circuit, and Membership Blitz events, please see our Online Circuit tournament calendar.

Bray’s Learning Curve: Basic Blitz

 

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

2018 - Beginners 6

XGID=aB-Ba-C-A—dEa–c-e—-B-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

White opened with 32 which was played, 24/21, 13/11. Red rolled 55 which he played 8/3(2), 6/1(2)*. White then fanned and Red has to decide whether to double.

Before the bots came along everybody knew that if you opened 6x which was played 24/18, 13/x and your opponent rolled 55, played 8/3(2), 6/1(2)*, and you fanned you had to drop your opponent’s double because you lose too many gammons.

But there are lots of other early 55 blitzes and ideally you need to know what to do as either side in such situations. With the bots came knowledge and Kit Woolsey was kind enough to document much of that knowledge in his “The Backgammon Encyclopedia – Volume 1”. If you look in there then you will find this position is a double (just) and an easy take. If the White blot were on Red’s 2-pt then Red would not even have a double because White’s blot is further removed from Red’s attacking force.

Kit documented many other early blitz positions in his book. The only problem is that the book is currently out of print because the proofs were lost. Hopefully he will recreate it in the not too distant future. The second volume “The Backgammon Encyclopedia- Volume 2” is in print. Meanwhile if you come across a second-hand copy of Volume 1 my advice is to snap it up quickly.

It is easy to learn these basic reference blitz positions and then use them effectively in live play. Knowing the correct action in such situations saves both time and mental energy and, given how difficult backgammon can be, you need to make use of reference positions as often as you can.

Rollout Data from Extreme Gammon

Beginners 6 Rollout

 

Bray’s Learning Curve — A Great Member Benefit
Bray’s Learning Curve is a USBGF online series by author Chris Bray. Each week Chris lends his sharp insight and easy to understand analysis to help you improve your game. Visit the USBGF Facebook page every Monday to view an interesting backgammon position and join in the lively discussion, return on Tuesday to view the answer. In addition, as a USBGF member, you get access to this companion blog article that includes an expanded explanation.  More about Chris Bray

 

 

 

USBGF Board of Directors Election — Now Open for Voting

The USBGF Board of Directors election is now under way. All members are eligible to vote. Members may vote anytime starting now up until 11:59 p.m. EST, Monday, December 3, 2018. Each member may submit only one ballot. A member must be logged onto the USBGF website to be able to vote.

The link to the voting page is: USBGF Board of Directors Ballot.

Six candidates, including four incumbents, are vying for four seats up for election. The six candidates are: Jeb Horton, Carter Mattig, Tara Mendicino (incumbent), Bill Riles (incumbent), Marty Storer (incumbent), and Frank Talbot (incumbent). The left side of the voting page contains a ballot with the six candidate names in random order. The right side of the voting page contains an alphabetical accordion listing of the candidates. By clicking on a candidate name on the accordion file, a member may see a photograph of the candidate and an informational/biographical statement submitted by the candidate.

There are four seats up for election. A member may vote for a minimum of one to a maximum of four candidates. A candidate may not receive more than one vote from a member. A member should select every candidate for whom they are voting prior to hitting the submit button.

The four candidates receiving the most votes will be elected, provided they are named on at least 50% of the ballots. If one or more of the top four vote recipients are not named on at least 50% of the ballots, a run-off election will be held including twice the number of candidates as the number of unfilled seats. As an example, if #4 and #5 (in terms of votes received) are not named on at least 50% of the ballots then #4 and #5 will appear on the runoff ballot. There will be only one runoff. The top vote recipient will fill the remaining seat provided he/she is named on at least 50% of the ballots. If, in the runoff, a ‘winning’ candidate is not named on at least 50% of the ballots cast, the corresponding Board seat will remain vacant until the next election.

The Board of Directors is excited by the opportunity provided all members to participate in the Board selection process. This voting process embodies our desire for an open, transparent, democratic, and participatory membership organization. We hope all members take the time to exercise their voting rights and carefully consider each candidate.

USBGF members and members of the Board of Directors may, as individuals, make any comments they wish, in any manner, related to the election and to the candidates. However, we request no comments be made by anyone that imply endorsement or opinion of the USBGF.

Should you have any difficulties in voting or have any questions regarding the voting process, please submit an e-mail to nominations@usbgf.org

Notice of Annual USBGF Board of Directors Election

This is to provide notice of our upcoming annual Board of Directors election which will be held this year, via our e-voting system, with a voting window beginning at 12:01 a.m. EST Monday, November 21, 2018 and ending at 11:59 p.m. EST, Monday, December 3, 2018. Nominations have now closed, and the Governance and Nominations is verifying nominated candidates’ willingness to serve and compiling brief statements from the candidates. An e-mail including specific voting instructions, with links to the ballot and to candidate information, will be forwarded to members immediately prior to the beginning of the voting period.

Our by-laws state: “Elections shall be scheduled and overseen by the Governance and Nominations Committee with the assistance of the Executive Director and other officers as needed. Members shall be entitled to cast up to one vote for each vacancy. However, no Member may cast more than one vote for any candidate on his/her ballot. The Board shall provide reasonable notice of the date range for voting, at least fourteen (14) calendar days in advance, through publication on the Federation’s internet website and, to the extent practicable, through other methods reasonably calculated to provide notice to the Federation’s Members. There shall be a period of at least seven (7) days for voting. Candidates receiving the greatest number of votes, up to the number of vacancies, and named on at least 50% of the ballots cast will be elected. The seat numbers listed as being up for election on the ballot shall be in descending order of the time remaining on their respective terms and will be sequentially assigned to elected candidates in descending order of the number of votes received. If not all the seats are filled in the initial round of elections, then there will be a runoff between the “x” number of candidates receiving the most votes (but not elected), where “x” is equal to twice the number of remaining seats on the Board to be filled in the election, provided that a candidate must have received votes from at least 5% of the ballots cast in the initial round to be eligible for the runoff. In the event of ties for the last remaining slot(s) on a runoff ballot, each of the candidates in the tie will be placed on the runoff ballot. Candidates receiving the greatest number of votes, up to the remaining number of vacancies, and named on at least 50% of the ballots cast will be elected.”

We thank all who have nominated an excellent slate of candidates for the four positions that are up for election, and encourage all members to participate in the Board of Directors election.

Best regards,
Karen Davis
President and Executive Director

Advanced Divisional LV

SteveWaller_ADV_ Div6

Congratulations to Steven Waller, winner of the Advanced Divisional LV. Steve defeated John Antaki in the 17-point final. Martin Stemberka and David Parks finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final. The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

See latest online standings at Leader Board.

USBGF August Monthly Circuit

2018 Ted Chee LA

Congratulations to Ted Chee, winner of the USBGF 2018 August Monthly Circuit. Ted won this single elimination tournament by defeating Eusebio Blasco in the 17-point final match. Cynthia Belonogoff and John Gamalieson finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final match. See the Online Circuit Leader Board posting here.

Complex Endgame


Match Play. Red trails 2-5 to 7. How should Red play 21?

2018 - Experts 5

XGID=-aCC-A——a——-a-ddd-:1:-1:1:12:2:5:0:7:10

This position occurred at the recent Cyprus tournament. Red played the rather dull and prosaic 5/2.

After playing his 21, Red will have either six or seven crossovers left to bear off his remaining checkers. White will have to make six crossovers (don’t forget the one to bear off a checker) to save the gammon. White will also need to roll a minimum of 26 pips to save the gammon. All this implies the race to save the gammon will be close and so Red must play aggressively. There is a huge difference between leading 6-5 (Crawford) and trailing 4-5. Note also that Red will hardly ever lose from this position (see rollout details).

Therefore, Red must take the extra crossover this roll if he can, despite any risks. Having six crossovers left rather than seven may save him a whole roll.

3/1*, 2/1 puts White on the bar but doesn’t get that vital extra crossover. 3/1*/off is the correct play by some way. Red gets a bonus if White rolls 22, 33 or 32 but the key point is the extra crossover. 5/4, 2/off is the same idea but in this variation White is not on the bar and that may be crucial. Despite the few extra shots Red should put White on the bar. Note also, that if White does hit from the bar, he may not be able to safety the blot on his own 5-pt. That will add to Red’s gammon percentage.

This is not the time for timidity (it rarely is in backgammon). 3/1*/off is the play.

 

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Experts 5 Rollout

 

Bray’s Learning Curve — A Great Member Benefit
Bray’s Learning Curve is a USBGF online series by author Chris Bray. Each week Chris lends his sharp insight and easy to understand analysis to help you improve your game. Visit the USBGF Facebook page every Monday to view an interesting backgammon position and join in the lively discussion, return on Tuesday to view the answer. In addition, as a USBGF member, you get access to this companion blog article that includes an expanded explanation.  More about Chris Bray

 

 

 

Brays Learning Curve: Offence or Defence

Money Play. How should Red play 32?

 

2018 - Intermediates 5

XGID=-b—-EBB—eD—b-db—B-:0:0:1:32:0:0:3:0:10

Red has opened with 61 (13/7, 8/7) and White has replied with 31, making his 5-pt. How should Red now play his 32?

The most common plays that I see are 24/21, 13/11 and 24/22, 13/10 but they are both incorrect.

Worse than these two plays is 13/11, 13/10. That play strips the mid-point of spares too early and gives White two tempting targets at a time when he has the better board. 13/8 is the dreadful ‘do nothing’ play. The two hybrid plays mentioned above are better but still wrong.

White has made his best offensive point and the standard tactic against that is to make an advanced anchor somewhere. Red gives himself the best chance to do that with 24/22, 24/21. The idea behind the play is that if White does point on one of the checkers then he will probably have to give up his 8-pt to do so and also Red will have good chances to make the other point that he has started with 24/22, 24/21.

I must reiterate that the time to take risks is in the opening when both players have relatively weak boards.

If Red gets wiped out by White by rolling a double next turn then Red can just drop the subsequent double and move on to the next game. He will still have played correctly and learning to lose is one of the key skills that any backgammon player has to acquire – it happens a lot!

As you can see from the rollout any play other than 24/22, 24/21 is at least an error and some of the plays mentioned above are blunders.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Intermediates 5 rollout

Bray’s Learning Curve — A Great Member Benefit
Bray’s Learning Curve is a USBGF online series by author Chris Bray. Each week Chris lends his sharp insight and easy to understand analysis to help you improve your game. Visit the USBGF Facebook page every Monday to view an interesting backgammon position and join in the lively discussion, return on Tuesday to view the answer. In addition, as a USBGF member, you get access to this companion blog article that includes an expanded explanation.  More about Chris Bray

USBGF Intermediate Divisional XLIX

Gary Fox 2018

Congratulations to Gary Fox, winner of the Intermediate Divisional XLIX. Gary defeated Frank Costello in the 13-point final. Shahrooz Moreh and Ira Gardner finished 3/4 in the 11-point semi-final. The Intermediate Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1500.00 and lower at the time of registration to enter the tournament.

See current online tournament ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

USBGF Intermediate Divisional L

genna_cowan

Congratulations to Genna Cowan, winner of the Intermediate Divisional L. Genna defeated Charles Stearns in the 13-point final. Robin Peterson and Sarah Saltus Sidding finished 3/4 in the 11-point semi-final. The Intermediate Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1500.00 and lower at the time of registration to enter the tournament. See current online tournament ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

USBGF July Monthly Circuit

Roberto Kenny Litzenberger_BLC

Congratulations to Roberto Kenny Litzenberger, winner of the USBGF 2018 July Monthly Circuit. Roberto won this single elimination tournament by defeating Mark Emrich in the 17-point final match. Jason Karns and Ira Gardner finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final match. See the latest Online Circuit Leader Board posting here.

Bray’s Learning Curve: Late Hit

Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take?

 

2018 - Beginners 5

XGID=aBBBBBE—————-de-:1:1:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

This type of position occurs frequently – White was happily bearing off and looking forward to two points (or even a freak gammon) when he left a shot and got hit. Therefore, it is best to know how to handle the cube in such situations.

The rule of thumb is that you should redouble when you have borne off five fewer checkers (or ten fewer checkers if your opponent has two checkers on the bar) than your opponent. Your opponent can take in such situations if he cannot miss when his straggler has once again reached his home board. Typically, that happens when Red has hit a shot from the ace-point anchor rather than from the bar. In that case White will have an empty ace-point and will miss with all aces in the bear-off. That turns the take into a drop.

Once you know the basic reference position you can make adjustments for your particular position. In this week’s position Red will leave an immediate shot with 66 and his sixes and big doubles play awkwardly putting him in jeopardy of a later shot. That is enough to make this position a no double.  Red should take a roll to tidy up his position.

To really learn about this position you should move the checkers around and see what difference that makes. Take one spare checker from the 6-pt and put it on the 5-pt and the position is still not quite a double. Take another checker from the 6-pt and put it on the 4-pt so that the spares are on the 4-, 5- and 6-pts (the perfect bear-off position) and White has a take but by the tiniest of margins.

1-pip differences can make a huge difference in backgammon.

Rollout Data from Extreme Gammon

Beginners 5 Rollout

Bray’s Learning Curve — A Great Member Benefit
Bray’s Learning Curve is a USBGF online series by author Chris Bray. Each week Chris lends his sharp insight and easy to understand analysis to help you improve your game. Visit the USBGF Facebook page every Monday to view an interesting backgammon position and join in the lively discussion, return on Tuesday to view the answer. In addition, as a USBGF member, you get access to this companion blog article that includes an expanded explanation.  More about Chris Bray

 

 

2018-2019 LCI USBGF Added Money for Local Club Winner + Free ABT Entry for Inter-Club Champion!

We’re pleased to announce that the U.S Backgammon Federation will
again offer provide added money to an annual backgammon club
tournament sponsored by a USBGF Affiliated Local Club of
$5 per USBGF member (a minimum of 8 USBGF members is required).

This added money can be attached to a currently planned local
club tournament or a new event — with the added money serving
as a sidepool for USBGF members. To be eligible, players must
have an active USBGF membership at the time of registration
in the tournament.

The 2018-2019 USBGF Local Club Initiative event can take
place at a time convenient to the director before February 28, 2019.
The format of the tournament is at the discretion of the director.
Please contact Ray Bills, USBGF Membership Director and
Director of the USBGF Local Club Initiative, raybills@usbgf.org
if your club would like to participate.

The winners of local club annual tournaments will compete in an
online USBGF Online Club Championship event with a great prize
— a free entry to any ABT event!

Last year’s prize was won by Gammon Associates winner Gus Contos,
who applied his prize to the 2018 Las Vegas Open. This online
tournament of winners of the club competitions would begin around
March 1. USBGF memberships would need to be active at the time of
registration in the inter-club online championship.

Check out your local club listing and send us any corrections.
http://usbgf.org/clubs/us-affiliate-backgammon-clubs/
Also let us know if you are willing to assist with a USBGF Local
Club Initiative that will develop ideas for helping local club
directors grow the backgammon community.

Brays Learning Curve: Three on the Bar

 

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

 

Experts 4

XGID=cA–BbC-B–BbB—–dAb-Bb-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

 

Three checkers on the bar is normally a recipe for a swift drop, a resetting of the board and the starting of a new the game. This week’s position is relatively unusual and if you have seen nothing like it before you are going to have trouble evaluating it.

White has three checkers on the bar and a disjointed home board. He also trails in the race by 18 pips with his opponent on roll. However, he holds a 5-pt anchor and his opponent only has two and a half home board points. Furthermore, Red has only ten checkers in the attack zone and three of his checkers still in White’s home board. These latter factors should give White hope especially if Red cannot cover the blot on his ace-point next time.

This position occurred in the Battersea chouette where there are more takes than in “normal” backgammon. The box (Red) did double and of course all four opponents took. What do you think of the cube decisions?

White’s 5-pt anchor is the key point on the board. That will keep him in the game forever and because Red has a shortage of checkers in the attack zone, he doesn’t really have many immediate market losing rolls, unless of course, you think he has already lost his market. However, only the big doubles really threaten White immediately.

In fact, the take is trivial for White, he just has too much play and too many ways to win to give this one up. As for the double it is right on the borderline. You can double or not double and you will be correct. Despite appearances, the position is not very volatile, I would only double this position if I thought my opponent would pass and that wouldn’t happen in the Battersea chouette!

In this instance, the takers were rewarded by being able to redouble Red out later on but of course a one game rollout proves nothing!

The key is to file this position in your memory bank and reuse it. The other way to learn is to play around with the position to see how that changes things. For example, if you take the spare checker on Red’s 6-pt and put it on his 1-pt giving him a three-point home board then the borderline decision is the take and not the double!

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Experts 4 rollout

Bray’s Learning Curve — A Great Member Benefit
Bray’s Learning Curve is a USBGF online series by author Chris Bray. Each week Chris lends his sharp insight and easy to understand analysis to help you improve your game. Visit the USBGF Facebook page every Monday to view an interesting backgammon position and join in the lively discussion, return on Tuesday to view the answer. In addition, as a USBGF member, you get access to this companion blog article that includes an expanded explanation.  More about Chris Bray

 

 

Bray’s Learning Curve: Priorities

Money Play.   How should Red play 22?

2018 - Intermediates 4

XGID=—–bE-CAA-cC–bc-e—-B-:0:0:1:22:0:0:3:0:10

Over the board Red chose 24/22(2), 13/9. Was he correct?  Sadly for him, he was a long way from the best move.

Not moving the back checkers at all is a huge error so they must at least advance 24/22(2). After that, if they remain there, then the best move for the other two twos is 10/8, 6/4, followed by 6/4(2) but both of these moves are blunders as is any move other than the correct one.

One the basic principles of backgammon in the early game is that if your opponent has made an advanced an anchor you should strive to do the same. Here Red has as a glorious opportunity to do just that with 24/20(2)!!

The blots left on the 9- and 10-pt are irrelevant. If hit, they can easily be recycled precisely because Red has his advanced anchor. The advanced anchor also cuts down Red’s gammon losses when thing go badly.

After 24/20(2) White is about a 60/40 favourite but Red is in the game for ever. If Red elects to anchor on the 22-pt his sixes are blocked and he can quickly get into trouble.

The key is to understand that the advanced anchor is far more important than the blots. There are many positions in backgammon where having two exposed blots spells extreme danger – this is not one of them!

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

intermediates 4 rollout

Bray’s Learning Curve — A Great Member Benefit
Bray’s Learning Curve is a USBGF online series by author Chris Bray. Each week Chris lends his sharp insight and easy to understand analysis to help you improve your game. Visit the USBGF Facebook page every Monday to view an interesting backgammon position and join in the lively discussion, return on Tuesday to view the answer. In addition, as a USBGF member, you get access to this companion blog article that includes an expanded explanation.  More about Chris Bray

 

 

USBG Intermediate Divisional XLVIII

Vinson Blanson 2018_sm

Congratulations to Vinson Blanson, winner of the Intermediate Divisional XLVIII. Vinson defeated Jerry Nussbaum in the 13-point final. Curt Wilhelmsen and Timothy Dugan finished 3/4 in the 11-point semi-final. The Intermediate Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1500.00 and lower at the time of registration to enter the tournament.

See current online tournament ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

Bray’s Learning Curve: Third Move Thoughts

Money Play. How should Red play 62?

2018 - Beginners 4

XGID=-a—-E-D—fD—c-e–A-A-:0:0:1:62:0:0:3:0:10

There are 15 possible opening rolls. Many of these can be played in different ways. In response each of the possible 21 numbers can also be played in a number of different ways. There are approximately 600 opening rolls and responses. Most players will get the majority of these plays correct over the board.

The same is not true of the third move because by now there are too many possibilities for us to remember and we must rely on general principles to guide us most of the time. Those guiding principles are:

  • Make new points
  • Unstack the heavy points
  • Hit an opposing checker
  • Start the rear checkers moving

Over and above these principles I also like to try to maintain flexibility so that I have the ability to adopt different game plans as the game evolves.

This week’s position occurred in a teaching session with two of my students. Red opened with 52 played 24/22, 13/8 and White responded with 65, played 24/13. How should Red now play this 62?As usual we must consider the candidate plays and then make a choice:

  • 24/18, 13/11 too many double hits.
  • 22/14 minimises shots but it will be difficult to improve the position next time.
  • 24/16 leaves the rear checkers connected, but gives White many more hits, some of them double hits.
  • 24/22, 13/7 gives Red a solid anchor and slots a good point and would be the choice of many.
  • 22/16, 13/11 unstacks the mid-point while reducing White’s hitting numbers and keeps some connectivity between the rear checkers.

My students both selected 24/22, 13/7 and I wouldn’t argue with anybody who wanted to make that move in a chouette. However, settling for the 22-pt anchor so early is a little negative and the blot on the bar-point is exposed to 17 shots.

Long experience had me leaning towards the more flexible 22/16, 13/11 but I wasn’t certain by any means. A long rollout proved me to be correct. It turns out that 24/22, 13/7 is too committal so early in the game and technically it is an error. Remember that flexibility is a key element of backgammon and 22/16, 13/11 provides Red with exactly that.

The key here is to remember the solution to this problem and then apply the technique in similar future positions of your own.

Rollout Data from Extreme Gammon

Beginners 4 Rollout

Bray’s Learning Curve — A Great Member Benefit
Bray’s Learning Curve is a USBGF online series by author Chris Bray. Each week Chris lends his sharp insight and easy to understand analysis to help you improve your game. Visit the USBGF Facebook page every Monday to view an interesting backgammon position and join in the lively discussion, return on Tuesday to view the answer. In addition, as a USBGF member, you get access to this companion blog article that includes an expanded explanation.  More about Chris Bray

 

Bray’s Learning Curve: Deep Thought

Money Play. How should Red play 42?

2018 - Experts 3

XGID=–bBbbCBCB-Ba—–abbab–A:0:0:1:42:0:0:3:0:10

Before the advent of the bots this roll would have been played bar/21*, 8/6 and nobody would have known that they were making a big error. The early bots such as TD-Gammon and JellyFish were not trusted to play back games correctly and so their recommendations would have largely been ignored in positions such as this.

However, by the time that gnubg and Snowie arrived players had begun to accept that their ideas were fundamentally sound, although there was still some doubt about complex positions. By the time Extreme Gammon took to the stage the bots were viewed as very strong players and everybody paid heed to their suggestions.

I misplayed this position over the board, making the pre-bot era move. As soon as I analysed the position with XG I realised I had forgotten to take its teachings into account. The correct move, by a long way, is bar/21*, 3/1, a move that would have been laughed at in the 1970s. Anyone wanting to make that move in a chouette of that era would have had their mental stability questioned.

However, when you look at the move and analyse it, it makes perfect sense. White has a very well-timed back game and his checkers are all working. In contrast thirteen of Red’s checkers are reasonably well positioned but the two checkers on his 2-pt are out of play. In military terms those two soldiers are off the field of battle and need to re-join their colleagues if possible.

The best way to correct Red’s timing is to force White to hit those checkers so that they can be recirculated. This is the key piece of logic behind bar/21*, 3/1. Having studied bot play in some depth I knew all about this particular recirculation tactic and I was annoyed with myself for missing the opportunity in live play.

Bar/21*, 8/6 is very nearly a blunder and any other move is a blunder or worse. So, please remember the idea and make use of it in your own games, the opportunity occurs more frequently than you might expect.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Experts Rollout 3

Bray’s Learning Curve — A Great Member Benefit
Bray’s Learning Curve is a USBGF online series by author Chris Bray. Each week Chris lends his sharp insight and easy to understand analysis to help you improve your game. Visit the USBGF Facebook page every Monday to view an interesting backgammon position and join in the lively discussion, return on Tuesday to view the answer. In addition, as a USBGF member, you get access to this companion blog article that includes an expanded explanation.  More about Chris Bray

 

Nomination of Candidates for 2018 USBGF Board of Directors Election

As prescribed by the By-Laws, the Board of Directors of the U.S. Backgammon Federation announces that members may nominate candidates, including themselves, for election to the Board of Directors. Nominees must be members of the USBGF. The Board asks members to please limit their nominees to candidates who have expressed a willingness to serve and to contribute to the Board. Nominations must be submitted to nominations before 12:00 midnight EDT, Wednesday, October 31, 2018.

Four seats will be up for election this year. Four Incumbents shown below plan to stand for re-election to the Board:

Seat #10 — Bill Riles (incumbent)
Seat #11 — Tara Mendicino (incumbent)
Seat #12 — Marty Storer (incumbent)
Seat #13 — Frank Talbot (incumbent)

After receiving nominations, the USBGF Governance and Nominating Committee will review the slate of candidates, confirm that each will serve if elected, solicit a short statement of qualifications, and may or may not recommend up to four candidates to the membership,

The election will take place from November 15 to November 30 by electronic ballot. Each USBGF member may cast a ballot for up to four candidates. All candidates, incumbent or otherwise, run ‘at-large’ (not for specific seats) with the four candidates receiving the most votes being elected — there are certain other qualifications outlined in the By-Laws.

It is always crucial for the continued success of the organization that viable, qualified, willing candidates be nominated by the membership. Fresh ideas, new expertise, and enthusiasm enhance the functioning of the Board.

Bray’s Learning Curve – Volatility

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

2018 - Intermediate 3

XGID=-B-BBaCCB-A———-bbcg-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

This is a type of position that I often see misjudged. What normally happens is that Red rolls something like 63 which is played 10/4, 8/5*, White fans and then Red wins a point by doubling White out.

Red has committed the cardinal sin of losing his market because he feared the sequence where he hits loose and then White return hits from the bar and then Red fans. Beware, considering unlikely nightmare scenarios is not the way to make decisions in backgammon.

Red’s thinking should go along these lines:

  • If I point on White’s blot (15 rolls), unless he rolls 26 from the bar I will have lost my market.
  • I will pick and pass with 14, 24, 34, 54 (8 rolls) and if White fans, again I will have lost my market.
  • With all remaining numbers except 64, 44 and 66 I will hit loose and if White doesn’t hit back yet again I will have lost my market. I note that 44 and 66 are both very good for the race.
  • Yes, I will lose some games where I do get hit and stay on the bar but overall, I will gain many more points by doubling now than I will lose in the odd case where thing go wrong.
  • The position is incredibly volatile and so I must double now or I risk losing my market.
  • Therefore, I double.

On the other side of the coin White has an easy take based upon his hitting and racing chances. Like many middle game positions this is both a correct double and a correct take.

Note that if White had a five-point board or even a closed board the doubling decisions for both players remain the same.

Success in backgammon is largely determined by one’s cube handling and here not doubling would be a blunder. If you didn’t double because you were afraid of being hit from the bar then hopefully after reading this article you will have learnt to think more positively.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Intermediates 3 Rollout

Bray’s Learning Curve — A Great Member Benefit
Bray’s Learning Curve is a USBGF online series by author Chris Bray. Each week Chris lends his sharp insight and easy to understand analysis to help you improve your game. Visit the USBGF Facebook page every Monday to view an interesting backgammon position and join in the lively discussion, return on Tuesday to view the answer. In addition, as a USBGF member, you get access to this companion blog article that includes an expanded explanation.  More about Chris Bray

 

 

 

USBGF Intermediate Divisional XLVII

Foust Aaron_cm
Photo C Mayeron

Congratulations to Aaron Foust, winner of the Intermediate Divisional XLVII. Aaron defeated Garrett Duquesne in the 13-point final. Elizabeth Liberty and Sarah Saltus Siddig finished 3/4 in the 11-point semi-final. The Intermediate Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1500.00 and lower at the time of registration to enter the tournament. See current online tournament ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

2018 USBGF Tournament of Champions

Adam Prager_sm

Congratulations to Adam Prager, winner of the 2018 Tournament of Champions. Adam bested Jaime Obregon in the 21-point final. Gary Oleson and Matthew Brown finished 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final.

This single match event is by invitation only and is limited to those players who have won a tournament during the 2017 Online Circuit season. The first and second place finishers will receive certificates and an analysis of their final match by a leading backgammon expert. First place will receive a one-year extension of their USBGF membership, and second place will receive a six-month extension of their membership.

The winner of the 2018 Tournament of Champions is recognized on the USBGF website, USBGF Facebook page, and then interviewed for an article in PrimeTime Backgammon magazine. The USBGF Online Circuit Leader Board includes Elo rating and Win/Loss record of all players in USBGF-sponsored online events who are active members.

Ray’s Instant Replays: Cracking The Re-Whip in San Jose

Instant replays enhance sports viewing immeasurably. They are also now used to determine the right call by game officials at crucial moments of a contest. I think I can expand my horizons a little here and apply that concept to Backgammon Tournaments. Smart phones, live streaming, and recording stations proliferate the scene nowadays. As a result, specific plays can be highlighted and discussed. This will be my purpose here.

InstantSportsReplay
With such an endless supply of material available to us the USBGF wants to be on the leading edge of the backgammon information age with this blog. April Kennedy is a talented promoter and has become the Social Media Director for the USBGF, under the direction and influence of Karen Davis. They approached me with this idea as I have written a few articles for Prime Time magazine and have the most experience playing on the American Backgammon Tour over the last 25 years. Writing comes easily to me but I have never done a blog except to post occasionally at Stick Rice’s BG Online which remains a great source of real time backgammon information. I envision a process where I can log on and share pertinent positions, ideas and problems I have recently encountered over the board. Perhaps even between matches at a tournament. Maybe there will be an opportunity for Questions and Answers too.
As one of the most active players on the ABT, I can serve as your guide through the many maze like situations you will face playing matches. I might be able to bring obscure concepts into clearer focus for you or shine a light on those that you were not aware of. The possibilities are intriguing to me and I hope to gain knowledge and understanding myself while sharing it with you. We can all learn together and maybe a certain synergy will develop in the process.

The upcoming fall issue of Prime Time magazine highlights the return to backgammon of the great Art Benjamin. I think the American Backgammon Tour is in its 25th year and not many people know that Art was once the leader of the ABT for the first five years or so before he took a leave of absence to start his family and pursue his career as a math professor. It occurs to me that all of the current and former number one players on the ABT are now working closely with the USBGF in some capacity. Marty Storer, Art, and Neil Kazaross are current board mebers, for instance. I write freelance and will be the Captain for the maiden voyage of this blog.

ChristShip

So, let’s bust a bottle of champagne on the bow, and christen the SS INSTANT REPLAY shall we?

People like stories and I like telling them so here we go. Once upon a time, in the year 2018, I journeyed to San Jose… Intent upon playing in the Silicon Valley Open backgammon tournament run by Ken Bame and his staff. Ken runs a Swiss movement tournament and was ably assisted by Jeb Horton, a sort of travelling expert on Backgammon Tournaments. Ken and Jeb worked hard all weekend to get the job done but they were plagued by some inevitable slow play, as usual for most backgammon tournaments even though the use of play clocks has become widely accepted.

Regardless I was enjoying some good fortune in the event having won my first four matches. At that point there were three players left undefeated: Myself, Art Benjamin and the ever present Jack Edelson from Wisconsin. The draw was posted for round five, and Jack was going to play Art, then something went haywire and I noticed that I was paired against a player whose record was 2-2. Winners play winners in this format, so that would not do. The draw was redone and now I was to face Art and our match was designated to be streamed live.

Not wanting to embarrass Art who would soon be featured in Prime Time magazine, I let him win our match 9-2/9. Few players possess the innate sensitivity to work with a story line as I do (smile). Art sent me to bed with a respectable 4 and 1 record. Jack won his match so Jack and Art would go up the hill to fetch a pail of ABT points the next day. Jack fell down and lost his crown and Art remained undefeated. The leader board was taking form by now.

I had lost to Art and the next two players I played on day two. Having reached round eight, even Art had now lost a match to Chris Knapp, a player from Canada. Evidently Chris had a different idea for the ending of this story! As it happens Chris and Art played two more times in this event… The second of which spawned the subject of this article. I was watching them play and Art was leading 2-1/9. Art owned the cube on 2 and they were in a bear off. Art rolled a fortunate set and the position became this:

Rays Instant Replay Art 4 roll 9-11-18 XG answer

XGID=-CCB——————-fa-:1:1:1:00:2:1:0:9:10

I thought idly that Art should redouble Chris and Chris would take it and this game would weigh heavily in the outcome of this relatively short match. Then Art fooled me! He began thinking and staring at the board. His hands were held at an awkward angle and his head was cocked to the side. It bounced a little as bits of information struggled to take center stage in his conscious thought process.
Art ciphers quicker than most so I didn’t have to wait long for his decision. He rolled the dice without redoubling. Both he and Chris, at his turn, rolled non doublets and then Art redoubled and Chris passed. The score was changed to 4-1/9 in Art’s favor. I took my leave at that point and resolved to revisit the situation with Art later. Meanwhile another great player and one of the fastest ever on the American Backgammon Tour walked by. Frank Talbot, another member of the USBGF Board of Directors. Frank likes to talk backgammon so I showed him the position too. Frank quickly recognized that double ones and double twos did not “work” for Art, and after some careful consideration Frank said: This is a hold, and he mentioned the score being a factor. That means no redouble in BG lingo, for the uninitiated.
In hindsight we can all see that Art and Frank have erred on the side of caution, while I would have carelessly re whipped a 4 cube over. Interestingly enough Art took second to Chris in the tournament, and Frank also cashed, while I did not. Frank’s feat was all the more impressive when you consider that he was 2 wins and 3 losses after five matches, necessitating that he win at least six matches in a row to cash. I was glad he proposed to call off our side bet in the money round after I lost it, lol.

I think we can learn something here given these circumstances. In general it may well be better to err on the side of caution than to have an itchy redoubling finger. Wild West gunfighters may not have been too adept at backgammon because somebody is likely to take you out with one lucky shot if you get into a lot of gunfights.

Fortunately after writing this article I got a call from Art, who was more than happy to have his match play boo boo shared with you. Art is secure in his masculinity and does not fret about showing he is human after all. In fact, the math professor in him explained to me the lesson that can be learned from this exercise. I think we all agree that though XG has a definitive idea about the line of play here, those lines get distorted in the human v human experience.

Let’s pick Art’s brain as I paraphrase what he told me before and after the XG analysis.
At the tournament Art was well prepared for my question which was why didn’t he redouble in the four roll position. He told me that he had memorized all the take points of 4 cubes in 9 point matches (!). Needless to say, I haven’t. He therefore knew that Chris Knapp had a take in a three roll position and so he could not lose his market in the four roll position unless he rolled a working doublet, thank you very much. I was playing for money on the side when he explained this and my opponent put the three roll position into XG mobile which said Chris should pass. I told him I would trust Arts math over XG mobile because Art has published more math and done more seminars than his smart phone. Then I lost thirty points to Stepan Nuniyants son Vadim. Get the picture???

After I had time to enter the position into XG and learn the bottom line, Art called me on the phone.
He explained that his chart (he has a chart?) noted that assuming 80% cube efficiency, the trailer’s take point at the score of 2-1 to 9 goes all the way down to 19%. Loosely translated that means because of potential future cube leverage you can take more freely at this relatively innocuous sore than usual. For example, the leader will need 30% game winning chances take an 8-cube if the game turns around.
In general terms, this would coincide with match play conventional wisdom. Leaders should protect their lead while trailers can become more aggressive.

The problem here, according to Art, was that, in retrospect, Chris does not have nearly enough cube efficiency. Efficiency is what Art called it and it was difficult for him to describe to me because he says it is complicated to ascertain. Enough said, Art! To try and explain the concept in layman’s terms, let’s think of cube efficiency as a function of time. In a holding game or long race the trailer would have sufficient time to find a good spot to effectively use the cube leverage the leader was handing him. Got it?
Here, in this four roll hybrid, the one thing we have little of is time! The dice will weigh heavily in the outcome and Chris must LOSE HIS MARKET by a mile to win. He won’t be able to get in any cute little 8 cubes on the come. Are you following me? If Chris rolls doubles to get an advantage, his winning chances won’t be 70%, they’ll be closer to 85%. His 8-cube would be very inefficient.

Anyway, due to this lack of cube efficiency Art said that Chris’ take point reverts back to the normal area of 25%. This makes holding back on the redouble a definite error, and the three roll position a blunder to take!

Rays Instant Replay Art 4 roll 9-11-18 XG answer

I guess Art will be revising those charts. Frank will become more deadly accurate OTB. I will remain confused. This game is hard, man.

In closing I will say that it is great to have Art back. He has a way of simplifying difficult problems and passing them on to us. He gave a seminar at this tournament and the last and I believe he will revolutionize the game and the way we think about it in the near future. Second place was a fine showing of his talent(s).

Congratulations Chris Knapp on winning your fourth ABT championship in recent years. If you can beat Art two out of three matches, you deserve it!

About Ray Fogerlund

Ray has the distinction of Backgammon Giant from 2007 to present, he was inducted into the USBGF Hall of Fame in 2017, and is the most active American Backgammon Tour player of all time.  The Ray’s Instant Replays blog series will catalog his playing experiences and bring some of his hard-earned wisdom to the masses.

 

USBGF 4th Directors Cup

scott_t_-ward_2016_oct

Congratulations to Scott Ward who defeated Norm Friedman in the 19-point final match to win the USBGF Online Circuit’s 4th Director’s Cup. Finishing 3/4 in the event were Boris Dekhtyar and Richard Munitz.

Scott, for winning, will receive his choice of either a 1-year extension of his current USBGF Premium membership PLUS a 1-year GammonSite membership, or a $60 credit to spend as he wishes at the USBGF BG Shop.

For his second place finish, Norm will receive his choice of either a 1-year GammonSite membership PLUS a $15 USBGF BG Shop credit, or he may choose a $30 USBGF BG Shop credit.

Boris and Richard, for their third and fourth place finish, will receive their choice of either a 1-year GammonSite membership or a $15 USBGF BG Shop credit.

All finalists will receive certificates and Scott will be profiled in PrimeTime Backgammon magazine.
Entry is free to all USBGF Premium, Novice, and Basic members. For more information about future online events see Online Circuit Tournament Calendar.

USBGF May Monthly Circuit

Masahiro Kisono

Congratulations to Masahiro Kisono, winner of the USBGF 2018 May Monthly Circuit. Masahiro won this single elimination tournament by defeating William Lonergan in the 17-point final match. Mario Savan and Martin Zizka finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final match.

Entry in the Circuit Monthly is free to all USBGF Premium, Novice, and Basic members. For information on all USBGF Online Events go to Online Circuit.