We had a great turnout for our first “is it post-pandemic yet?” tournament today – 15 players braved the rain to see what it was like to play live backgammon again.
Lucky Lab is on a limited menu and tap list, and requires a mask indoors. But we took over half of the patio (quite literally), and in spite of questionable lighting, it was pretty comfortable. Well, from a fresh air perspective, anyway – eventually the picnic table seating started getting to my back. We all made do.
5 players elected into the dual side pools, and I put all of them (plus 2 others) into one bracket. 8 players made for a perfect second bracket. Let’s take them in reverse that order…
We had a big cast of new-comers in the bracket: Laura, Hobie, Dana, Kyle, and Karl were all making their first appearance. Kate came with her own cheer squad, and Julie and Rob rounded it out. You remember Rob, right? He used to run the group back around 2015 and prior? He claimed to not remember the Crawford rule. That might have been literally true for some of the other newcomers – Laura at least told me she hadn’t used the doubling cube before. First round had Julie defeating Laura (who then had to depart, dropping the bracket to 7), Kate over Dana, Rob over Hobie, and Karl over Kyle. Kate experienced the full spectrum of backgammon, going from a 5-0 win to a 0-5 loss against Rob in the second round. Julie took out Karl, setting the two most experienced players in the bracket against each other for the championship. After a good amount of back and forth, Rob emerged victorious, one of the two players to have a perfect record for the year in live backgammon play!
Our other bracket had a couple of newcomers as well, plus one complex situation. Dan and Brad were with us for the first time, plus Aaron, who had come to a couple of online events, so I’m not sure I can call him a first-timer, but it was his first time playing with us live. Max, Tim, Jeremy, and I rounded it out. Round 1 I squeaked out a win against Max, Tim beat out Dan, Aaron won a heartbreaker match against Jeremy, and Brad got the lucky bye. In round 2, Brad beat me out 5-4, Aaron handed Tim a loss, and so Brad and Aaron set up to play for first/second. This led to an interesting situation, as they were the two players who were NOT in the side pools. I resolved it by setting Tim versus Max to play for the second place while I took on Jeremy for the first place side pool. Both matches went down to the wire, Jeremy besting me and Max defeating Tim.
Meanwhile, in the final game of the final match (4 to 4, post Crawford) between Aaron and Brad, we got into a hyper-gammon situation. Aaron had 5 or 6 of Brad’s checkers back on his home board as he was going to bear-in, and Brad had a 4 point board plus a loose checker or so in the outfield. Aaron was forced to leave a shot and the game went into overtime, as Brad repeatedly hit Aaron’s checker while bringing the rest of his pieces around. By the end, Aaron had 13 checkers on his 1-point, a blot on his 2-point, and one off, while Brad closed him out. Brad in turn was forced to leave a blot after bearing off 5 checkers, which Aaron hit! At this point, the race was on. Brad managed to get past Aaron’s checker coming around, and it got down to a question of whether or not Brad would ever miss taking one off on a roll. 5 or 6 frantic shakes later, Brad emerged victorious!
Many people asked about when we will do our next tournament, and/or our next chouette. I’m figuring that out – I think Lucky Lab will remain our home base for the next event or two as they have such a good outdoor space, pending further re-opening to indoor space. Assuming that we didn’t turn out to be a super-spreader event, I will get the next tournament posted within a few days, possibly a chouette as well. It seemed like everyone had a pretty good time, I certainly did. It was great to see people again, and to meet new friends. Until next time!