BMS : great PR earns Marc Van Damme victory at Brussels BG Day.

Marc Van Damme is the only player in Belgium who currently holds a Master (Class 1) grading (< 4,75 PR). At the most recent Brussels Backgammon Day his performance over ten 5-point matches was almost exactly the same as his ranking on the BMS Grading Table reflects :

PR Marc Van Damme (10 x 5)

Marc was one of 6 players who won 7 matches out of 10. The others are : Akhbar Soltani, Nick De Ruyck, Leonidas Sotiriadis, Dan Pascu, and Serge Alard.

Dan Pascu was close to winning the event convincingly with 8/10, but in his final match he saw the decisive dmp-game slip through his fingers against a hard-battling Leonidas. Bad luck for Dan, as the computer programme awarded the victory to Marc based on the Buchholz criteria.

Marc (middle) with Nick (l) and neutral observer Alain Chif.

The event was a success. Tournament organiser Guy Van Middelem kept a tight rein on proceedings, making sure matches started on time and the playing schedule was respected. The catering was excellent, with croissants in the morning and sandwiches and three kinds of homemade soups for lunch.

BMS-participants were slightly dismayed, however, to find out that only 8 minutes were allotted for a 5-point match, instead of the standard 10 (i.e. 2 minutes per point). This whimsical approach stems from the wish to schedule “more matches”, but comes at the cost of valuable thinking time. 5-pointers are notoriously difficult, since take-points and gammon values are skewed from game 1. It is not like in a longer match, where the opening games have normal take-points (25%) and gammon values (0,5). Have a look at this position, for instance : Marc Van Damme is faced with a difficult cube decision in his match against me :

White redoubles. Can Black take or should he pass?

Let us have a look at the same position “for money” (or : in Unlimited Games):

White redoubles. Can Black take or should he pass?

With three blots floating and faced with a stronger board, Black faces a huge amount of gammons (45%). This results in a clear pass, not just “for Money”, but also at a 0-0 score in a 11-point match. Accepting this cube would be a clear blunder :

However, in a 5-point match, things become very complicated. After the cube is turned, it will have a value of 4 and with the gammon price being only 0,25, the 45% gammons only have a value of 11%, instead of 22% (for Money). Moreover, should Black ever have the chance to recube to 8, the gammon price would become 0 ( = zero) and all White’s gammons would evaporate. Here is the correct cube action ats ( = at the score). Suddenly, not accepting the cube would be a clear blunder :

(!!) Needless to say that this is a fantastic, world-class take by Marc. I think most players, even very good ones, would drop with a sigh of relief, myself included.

This shows that 5-point matches are very difficult from Game 1, especially the cube actions. Marc’s Cube PR (10,24) should illustrate that abundantly. I therefore urge tournament organisers to allow the EUBGF-approved and BMS-conform 2 minutes per point even for shorter match lengths.

To round off : BMS(BE) welcomes 5 new players on the BMS GT. Dan Pascu, Kristoffer De Weert, Leonidas Sotiriadis, Antoine Demey and Serge Alard decided to take advantage of the newly introduced CoP to play their match against Marc under ‘mutual PR agreement’ and thereby gained access to the BMS GT. Antoine Demey managed to do so with a Master (Class 1) result! Thanks for participating, guys.



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