Breaking a match into smaller sets: Another advantages
Posted By: AP
Date: Tuesday, 27 August 2013, at 2:32 p.m.
Several players have advocated for breaking matches into smaller sets…i.e. play 2 out of 3 matches to 5 points instead of one longer match to 11 points. The advantages usually cited include more excitement and more interesting cube decisions, which I think are both great reasons.
Another relevant difference that I have never heard cited is that these shorter matches limit post-Crawford distortions. In general, I think the Crawford Rule is a very reasonable compromise between doing nothing and turning the cube off for the rest of the match once the leader gets to 1-away. The downside to the Crawford Rule is mainly apparent at lopsided scores where one player has achieved a substantial lead. In those cases, the leader’s large lead is effectively cut in half immediately after the Crawford game, which seems too much of an impact. Playing shorter sets seems like a natural way to prevent this distortion.
The increased complexity of the cube decisions combined with the limited post-Crawford distortion should increase the edge of the stronger player, and all standard backgammon theory would continue to apply. The only downside that I can think of is that matches have the potential to have more games played, which may concern directors trying to stay on schedule. But another benefit of breaking a match into sets is increased flexibility with regards to time controls. For example, separate time controls could be defined for each set, allowing the director to impose a shorter limit on the third and final set if the match went the full distance.
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