A Giant (of Backgammon) Problem

by Stick
29 May 2013


The 2nd Giants of Backgammon Invitational took place over the weekend. Unfortunately I was unable to attend because a good friend of mine was getting married in Virginia so I thought this month I'd play armchair quarterback for a couple of the matches. So many matches were streamed and recorded. I expect them to be released during the week on my forums.

I plan on rambling this month more than I usually do, consider yourself warned. I went through these matches roll by roll as I usually do with matches I was unable to witness. Since the matches were amongst Giants this is a very boring process. By and large we make the same plays. Backgammon at the top levels in my opinion has become super stale. We routinely see people playing under a 2 PR now that more and more matches are being streamed. Going over these matches at home allows me to play even better than the players in question for a few reasons. First of all, there is no clock on me. Remember these matches are played under some sort of clock setting. Secondly, I'm in front of my computer eating Reese's Pieces reviewing them at my leisure. I don't have the schedule of having traveled to the tournament, maybe getting not enough sleep, perhaps my body is on a different time zone, tired from playing however many matches before this one and knowing I still have how many left to play. I don't have distractions. There is also no pressure on me to play well. While generally I never have understood pressure in backgammon I know some people say they suffer from it. For these reasons and many many more I have to check myself after reviewing a match and thinking "Wow, these guys play like donkeys!" (unless it's MCG, then it's the truth)

It should go without saying the individuals I'm going to pick on are being picked on for a reason. They're among the best players around. They have proven themselves time and time again as part of the creme of the crop, the upper eschelon of backgammon junkies. Everyone respects their games so much and they are confident in their abilities that they can shrug off these blunders as part of the game. We know everyone makes big mistakes it's nice sometimes to be reminded though that the likes of a Mochy or Kazaross can pull a blunder so big out that it basically doubles their PR for the match! Enough with the PC introduction, let's get into frying some fish.

The best part about the positions I'm going to share where the Giants erred is that it typically denotes a big hole in their game. When you're a Giant and you find a position you really butchered it is an opportunity to patch up part of your game that causes you problems. The stronger you get over time the less and less of these types of holes you'll have. Discovering new ones and fixing them is what Giants do and why they stay one step ahead of the competition. I can guarantee you that the people involved in these blunders will hammer that misunderstanding out of their game. On top of that, they allow us to learn from them as I often do. These first positions are from a 9pt match between Neil Kazaross and Mochy.

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