Joust In Japan

by Jake Jacobs
19 December 2014

Jake Jacobs

I read an online comment recently by a player looking back to the days of yore when he first began playing competitive backgammon, all the way back to 2004.

He said that while the top players had improved, the biggest change was in the level of play below the top.

Everyone had gotten better, and the difference between the best and the rest was growing smaller.

The recent Japan Open underscores the point. The field included at least half a dozen players who had reached the finals of a World Championship, and also Giants such as David Wells, Mathew Cohn-Geier, and Tobias Hellwag.

Yet none of them reached the finals. Nor did any of the many extremely strong Japanese players playing with home court advantage. Instead the finalists were Robin Swaffield, a British expat who has made Hong Kong his home for many years, and Mick Dyatt, an Australian player who is a relative newcomer to organized backgammon.

Robin Swaffield looking confident

Mick Dyatt offers a winning grin

The final would be seventeen points.

Black (Robin) trails 0-3 to 17

I might have been tempted to make the 3pt, hitting along the way. Robin chose to make his 8pt. But the best play is to hit twice: 20/5*, 13/8*.

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