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Ed O - Dual duel suggestion

Posted By: Henrik Bukkjaer
Date: Friday, 7 February 2014, at 1:56 p.m.

In Response To: Ed O - Dual duel suggestion (Christian Munk-Christensen)

Yeah CMC, I've considered giving a summary of our "Anti-Ludo" tournament, now renamed to XG-Masters. Since I think the experience from that tournament (has run for some years now) could be of great use for the DD planners and could answer some of the questions posted here...

I don't know for sure, but I imagine that the bg demographics in the US has gone through a similar change as we have seen in Denmark, over the last 5 (maybe 10) years.

I think a lot of Phil's posts here, reflect the old world, when it comes to the demographic - what people wan't, why they play, how they play, what they seek as their goals and what they will stay out of.

The new backgammon community (at least here in Denmark, but my feeling is that it's happening all over the world) sees players that aren't looking at backgammon as a gambling game, but more as a thinking contest. The end result is very strong players not seeking to play for a lot of $$$. On the other hand, the good old highroller is becoming an increasingly rare sight, after poker has taken the majority of them. Average strength of the field means that the EV is not as high anymore, and EV driven players find other hunting fields. The big problem is that a lot of these players are no longer certain to juice up their tournament attendances with "interesting" side action. So they don't show up at minor events.

Thus the mix of players attending tournaments is not as it used to be.

Following that, you also see a change in the players take on publicizing PRs, etc. People who are in the game for the intellectual challenge of it, rather than the money, will not be as prone to keeping their PRs secret. People who know they are dogs, are willing to play against documented better players, in order to learn from them, and simply to get the experience.

This all becomes clear, when you see the attendance for the Danish XG Masters tournament. 50+ players, including players that doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell to win, or even progress from the first round.

Here's what I think is the key:

1) Entry fee must be kept low - I think we are at around $40. People are willing to pay to participate, but they will not simply sponsor the elite with high amounts. If you could add some kind of consolation price for an underdog that performs well, that would be good. We have a ranking system, and therefore we could add a price for the "biggest upset" according to ELO, etc. That would give everyone something to shoot at.

2) Winning the match must be part of the result - It's easier to become a big dog in the PR race, compared to the actual outcome of the match. All non-top-players know this for a fact, and if your tournament mixes winning and PR results, they will tend to think "I might not have a chance to outplay him, but I can get lucky and win". CMC outlines the format for the cup part of our tournament, with heads up matches, where you have to win both match and PR to progress. Draws means another match is played, and shorter lenght each time (eg. 11-points, 9-points, 7-points, 5-points, 3-points, 3-points, etc.).

3) Initial stages of the tournament must not be single knockout. We use pools of 5 to 6 players, with two players progressing from each pool. Seeded pools that is. So all contestants are ensured: Multiple matches including at least one match against a known top-player and at least one match against a not-so-strong player. That means they are certain to get some educational benefit from their participation (not just a single knockout punch), and that they actually see a possible success in progressing from the first round (by beating the not-so-strong players in PR and getting lucky and win the game against the top-players). For many participants, their goal (KSF) is simply to progress to round 2.

4) In general, it is important to be frank and open about PRs. One should never refrain from posting PRs from official tournament play, in order to "protect someones reputation", "avoid embarrassment", or similar misguided notions. If everyone posted more non-cherry-picked PRs, it would become clear that even very strong players sometimes post big PRs (think DD final where Mochy and Ray combined to approx. 20!), and it also becomes clear that intermediates sometimes plays 8 or 10 or even more, and beginners are not obliged to quit backgammon it they post a 15. People should simply get real about PRs, instead of contributing to a wrong impression about PRs being very low. We should show that there's a lot of variance here. By "hiding" all the bad performances, you simply contribute to making the intermediates and beginners think that they are worse than they actually are...

For sure, it is important that ALL PRs that are played in a PR tournament is made public. I believe this has been part of the reason for the now high attendance in our XG Masters tour. Once a couple of not-so-strong intermediates took the chance and participated, posting PRs in the range of 12-15, a lot of other players thought, well what the heck then we can give it a shot too...

5) Time. You need time to execute a PR tournament, if you want a tournament with a lot of participants. You cannot run it as a one-day-side-event, if you want a great format and a lot of participants. Then it has to be the main event. Or at least run over multiple days with some priority.
We have a huge geographical advantage here (400 tournament players living within the greater Copenhagen area - less than 50 miles of travel), allowing us to run our XG Masters tournament over a couple of months, playing around 100+ matches (17-pointers) in the initial stages. I'd say that it is simply impossible to run a PR tournament with 50 participants and an interesting format, as a two day side-event. The format allowing such a speedy execution, would either make it non-appealing to the not-so-strong players, or too much of a crap-shoot for the world-class players.


For our format, we've been trying two different ones: In 2012 you got one point for the win, one point for the low PR, and 3 points for a sweep, that is: 1-1 or 3-0 points awarded for each match in the pools.

In 2013 that format was changed, to award one point for the win, one point for low PR, and one point for best MWC loss performance (which is "somewhere between" win and PR conceptually, but following PR more than it follows the win).

The first two stages has always been pools, progressing two players from each pool in the first stage, and one player from each pool in the 2nd stage, plus any number of wildcards given to the lowest PR avg. not otherwise progreessing, to make the numbers right.

In 2012 the 3rd round (finals) was also a pool.

In 2013 that was changed to a cup/single knockout, requiring both win and PR to move on.

And what's really impressive? Karsten Bredahl won both in 2012 and in 2013! And I can tel you, that it was not an easy field either year...

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