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Sportive Cubing

Posted By: Colin Owen
Date: Monday, 3 December 2012, at 5:11 a.m.

In Response To: Sportive Cubing (Bob Koca)

My main argument in my post was not the very radical one that a no overage rule was accepted, but rather the less radical notion that totally one-sided cubes and recubes were prohibited - on the grounds that this seemed to be misusing the doubling principle. That would still, of course, require new MET's.

But in response to Bob's points:

i) Where a player needs to win a large number of single games to win the match - and therefore has only a tiny chance - whether this is enjoyable or not is up to the individual. Some players heads drop when they're at only a moderate disadvantage; others have a never say die spirit!

A few years ago I had a fairly solid bet on a sporting event: the BDO World Darts Final. Despite the two horse race, my selection was a considerable dog. In the best of 13 sets match (a set being the best of five games) he went 0-6 down. At this point his price must have reverted to a good deal longer than the 150/1 he was at the start of the 32 player event. After the scheduled break, he did well to avoid the whitewash - then rather cheekily grabbed the next set as well. And the next. The drama became unbelievable, and there was pandemonium when he levelled at 6-6! He lost the deciding set 3-0, though he had shots at a winning double in two of those legs (games). I have had much more at stake on sports betting - and won - but that comeback gave me the biggest buzz I've ever had in gambling!

Can you imagine having to win the 9 games in a row that Bob described - and succeeding? The satisfaction would be incredible! For the loser, now that really would be 'The Cruelest Game'. BTW, Bob seems to have been careless in his maths: MWC at 9a1a with 'no overage allowed' is not 1/256 but 1/512: even more satisfying if you pulled through!

ii) The small possibility of a very long match would mean that TD's and club organisers could not ignore clocks. Most would say that's a good thing. And if the same (or perhaps slightly more) reserve time was given then it would clearly place time management - ie budgeting for a possible large number of games/moves - at a premium. There would be more timeouts, all of which would expedite the situation! Perhaps the delay should decrease (to 10s) with a corresponding increase in reserve time? This would minimise the effect on completion time in a match with a high number of moves.

iii) Would we lose 'much of the richness' of scores? Probably. The smoother changes for gammon prices and doubling windows that no overage would surely create would mean less reliance on memorising tables of numbers: it would be easier to calculate them. And the MET's would surely be more accurate. The arithmetically minded would still have their formulae, and could still memorise their tables, but to what extent are these skills really representative of the game of backgammon? Should not the fluid skills of judging relative (chequer play) and absolute (cubing) game equity form the essential part of the test, rather than memorising tables of numbers or doing masses of mental arithmetic? Heresy, no doubt to many (particularly on this forum), but for the majority of players they would now be able to apply, to a much greater extent, their own mathematical intuition to how the score changes things. Rather than shooting in the dark. Paradoxically, it may make the game LESS one of luck, for the majority.

Bob's quoted figures for the effect at 5a 1a on the MWC's for players of different Elo's are essentially incorrect. The weaker players chances ATS, with standard rules, would therefore be 13.8% meaning a 'no overage rules' cost of 11.25% not the 10% quoted. The better player is certainly less likely to reach 5a 1a. The correct ratio of lost equities between standard rules and no overage, in this example, is 13.7 to 11.25, which is significantly LESS than the Jacobs Trice generated odds at the start, of 56.1 to 43.9.

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