In the Red Beaver League, players play three, five, or seven matches against each other whereby one point is awarded for the winner of the game and one point for the player with the best PR. This Ultimate Backgammon Championship (UBC) format has provided some intense backgammon drama in the course of this playing season.
On Tuesday 27 December 2022 six players and three TR’s (= Transcriber Referees) met at the Sandeman in Gent to play their duels to a finish. Here is what happened.
In the first encounter of Level 2 (TR: Robin Bilderbeek), Johan Huyck proved a bit too strong for Paul van Dijke. The points were shared in Match 1 (1-1), but Matches 2 and 3 swept the carpet from under Paul’s feet. Johan won both of them convincingly (7-0 and 7-1), thanks not only to excellent form, but also to better Luck rates (+2 and +3). This brought the score to 5-1. The only way for Paul to still win the duel was by winning the two remaining matches with better PR’s. This did not happen, although Paul went down fighting. He won Match 4 on PR (3,73 v 3,83), but stood no chance against Johan’s +3,8 Luck rate. As Paul was now 6-2 down with one match to play, there was no need to play Match 5.
This result allows Johan to progress to Level 1 where he will meet Geert Van der Stricht in a duel consisting of seven matches. If Paul can win his barrage duel (five matches) against either Robin Bilderbeek or me (Michel Lamote) he will secure a spot in Level 2 for the upcoming season.
The second encounter on that midwinter Tuesday was the Level 3 barrage duel between Johan Segers and Paulus van Rooijen (TR: Michel Lamote). The winner would be sure to start the next RBL playing season in Level 3, whereas the loser would relegate to Level 4. Paulus took a blistering start by winning M1 and M2 with better PR’s, giving him a 4-0 advantage. Insurmountable? Not so fast. Johan promptly won M3 with a better PR so that everything was still possible: 4-2. However, Paulus took two vital points in M4, which sealed Johan’s fate. Final score: 6-2.
At table 3, Bert Van Kerckhove and Guy Van Middelem were set to play their barrage duel to a finish (TR: Nick De Ruyck). A week before Bert had won M1, but Guy had snatched an unexpected point with a 4,48 PR: 1-1. Guy then proceeded to win M2 and M3, albeit with lesser PR’s, resulting in a 3-3 score.
Today, in the first match of the afternoon (M4), Bert cruised to a 6-0 lead, but Guy was close to staging a comeback. Eventually Bert won 7-2 and, with the better PR, was now 5-3 up. The only thing Bert had to avoid in M5 was to lose the match with a significantly worse PR, because in case of a 5-5 draw, the average PR would come into play. Guy was able to produce another world class performance (PR 4,45), but to no avail. Bert stood his ground by winning M5 with an equally good PR (4,80). This 6-4 victory means that Bert will hold on to his Level 4 spot whereas Guy will start the next playing season in Level 5.
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— Michel Lamote