In the course of a little under 3 months, Geert Van der Stricht and Johan Huyck played, recorded and transcribed ten 15-point matches. These long matches are notoriously difficult as cube decisions can become very counter-intuitive at lopsided scores. How did both players perform in this challenging format?
Well, honour where honour is due, let us start with Geert :
There can be no doubt that Geert is dexterous at checker-play : he played 8 matches at World Class level and the other 2 at Expert level. However, whereas checker plays seldom deviate according to score, the cube decisions will alter dramatically once there is a 3- to 4-point gap in the score. Mastering this aspect of the game requires in-depth knowledge of match equity tables, doubling-windows, gammon values, market-loss theory, and more of that fun stuff. Here, Geert has work to do : in only 1 match was his cube play better than Advanced level. Still, an admirable performance by one of Belgium’s best.
Johan is not known to many. He studied and played the game intensively at the start of the 21st century, but then took a sabbatical break. Now he’s back, encouraged and stimulated by the recent initiatives within the Belgian backgammon community, where the focus of attention has shifted from winning to playing well.
Although Johan’s game is still a bit rusty, he still achieved a level of performance many will find hard to emulate :
Johan played 2 matches at an astonishing level : PRs of 3,39 and 3,34 serve to illustrate his potential. However, these promising performances were sadly offset by matches where PRs rose above 8. It cannot be a coincidence that these were the matches where Johan’s cube play was at its worst. Although his checker play was consistently Expert or better, his cube decisions were frequently wide of the mark. Like all of us, Johan has room for improvement here. But, hey, would we play this game if it were easy?
With this result, Johan gains a spot on the BMS GT. There has been some high-intensity jockeying for position on both the BMS and BPR tables. You can check what is going on by clicking on BMS(BE) in the black banner above, and chosing either table in the scroll-down menu.
Congrats to both players for a commendable effort!
See you soon.