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Longest Message Ever - Nordic 2010

Posted By: Stick
Date: Saturday, 10 April 2010, at 7:39 p.m.

I'm going to take it from the top so some of this up front information will be repetitive for a lot of you. I am also done with the post now and apologize for its length. I doubt 1 out of 10 will make it through the entire thing.

At the end of 2009/beginning of 2010 I received an email from Steen Gronbech saying he and Morten Holm had an idea about a team tournament they'd like to run at the Nordic Open. I don't know where the idea stemmed from but I know we (myself and Christian) discussed something very similar here on the forums.

I thought this was a great idea so we launched into possible players and format. Morty deserves all the credit for the format. It turned out to be entertaining and I hope to use something similar at other events. As for the players for Team World initially we thought it'd be good to try to keep every member of the team from a different country. The original candidates were along the lines of myself (US), Tardieu (France) Mochy or Michy but preferably Mochy since he is the reigning world champ (Japan), Falafel (Israel), Jerry Grandell (Sweden), Dirk Schiemann (Germany). Katja was our female of choice from the outset though since she lives in Denmark there would be potential 'conflict of interest' issues that could arise so we asked other strong female players first.

It wasn't my idea to solicit players like Grandell and Schiemann in the beginning, it was Morty's. I was wishy-washy on the whole idea. I knew they were dinosaurs, huge names in backgammon that I recognized but had never met and I doubted their bg game was up to scratch no matter how good they used to be. I'm also not a fan of rewarding players who no longer play a game by prodding them with promises of big money so they come out of retirement for 20 seconds. I think the current big names of the game deserve any cashfall that may fall the way of backgammon, not people who haven't supported the game for years.

So I was mildly happy when these players either couldn't be reached or flat out declined. This left another problem though since at that point in time the teams were to consist of 6 players + 1 non playing captain. (the captain originally had the option to fill in or play 1 match for someone, but was never required to play for the team) People have doubted how this was presented to me or how I took it so I now provide these excerpts from emails:

Morty - I dont think you (Stick) should be the captain of the world since you supposed to play 2 session and not only max 1. I think x22 would be my preference as your captain. But again its not a big deal. since the captain does not have to play it could also be someone not that strong a player. But preferbly one who could pitch himself incase one from the team is off his game in 1 session and needs to be substituted. or simply put himself on fore 1 off the sessions.

I then replied: The only problem I have with these people being captain is that I don't see them drawing the team together for practice sessions and I also don't like them dictating who plays what event as they have no clue as to our strengths and weaknesses, they're removed from the backgammon scene totally almost.

So what is the captain's active roll in the tournament itself?

Morty replied Ok we have a Captain on the team becourse at any team competiton you have a captain on the team. If I where to describe the captains role, then it would be to take care of formalities, keep players on the team informed, nurse and train etc etc...

So wee want him in the event, but put him in a spot where he does not nessiseairly has to play.

In a later email he also said The world still needs to designate their captain. The captains role this year will be of no significance since we have made the teams ourself and everything in the making of the event has mainly been taking care of by Stick, Steen and myself. It is the idea that for later years, the captain is the main character in the building of the teams.

Now in an email later that very same day after I made the announcement on my forums of the format etc... after Peter has been added to the team on the basis that he has no role whatsoever I get "We changed the rule for the captain so that everybody incl the captain can play up to 3 session. and everbody incl the captain has to play at least 2 sessions.

What's this "we" shit? We who? I'm left out of the loop for what I see a huge decision in the change of format. This isn't the kind of thing you pull off when trying to organize an event like this and as I've already expressed here before and in emails afterwards, I was pissed. I really wanted this event to go off as big as possible and had been selling it to people trying to get sponsors and whatnot for the World team then the other two people organizing it pull the rug out from under me. Now they'll turn around a few weeks later and say "can't raise the cash for the event?" when they have, in my mind at the time, deliberately both weakened the World team and strengthened their own team.

I'll make the side note again esp. after meeting and getting to know Peter. I had no idea who he was or how he played at the time, just that he hadn't played bg in quite some time. He was a hell of a nice guy and made a good team with Falafelfish because it's the lowest error rate Falafel played for the entire Danes v. World event. It left us with a gaping weakness not based on Peter's play but having to realign our lineup around someone who wasn't supposed to play. We were already doing enough guesswork to fit people into the format that suited them best and this hurt us even more as we had just finalized our lineup. End rant, for now anyway.

So after none of the dinosaurs of bg answered Morty's requests the problem was getting solid players but keeping separate country representation. We were unable to do it without crippling the strength of our team so we decided to repeat whatever countries were necessary. At this point we had myself, Peter, Mochy, Falafel, and Fernando I think. So Michy was to me an obvious choice and then we went with MCG. There were many who expressed why wasn't X or Y on the team instead of Z. That question should basically be answered now as to why some people were initially put on the team - the only person still in question would be MCG and if you need to figure out why he was put on the team look at his performance in the event.

We had our team and we had our format, next issue? Where the hell do we put everyone. Since I was now designated captain I requested of everyone what he would prefer to play giving him the session options. (you can either play dmp or speed, which would you prefer? you can either play doubles or singles, which would you prefer?) Fernando answered speed almost immediately and Falafel followed suit desiring speed. Mochy informed me Michy was a good speed player and it would suit his game though to me he had never come off as a speed player I took Mochy's word for it. Mochy said he had so many reference positions in his head everything was second nature to him, he had seen it before so he didn't need to waste time thinking about stuff basically. If that was our speed team then our dmp team was basically set, MCG, Mochy, and myself. That's day 1.

Let me now skip ahead to arriving in Copenhagen and meeting with the team to practice. I had went to Japan a week and a half before the event to try to get sponsorship for the World team and to practice with MCG and Mochy who were already in Japan. We had practiced nearly every day, either a live serious consulting money session or dmp sessions which we recorded and analyzed afterwards. The rest of the team made the effort to get to Denmark a couple/few days early so that the team could practice. This is a big spot where the Danes had an advantage over us, they could see each other any time they wanted, practice when and if they felt like it, they knew each other's games, their strong points, their weak points, etc... We knew a little of this and a little of that, but coming together to practice beforehand was a great idea. If we had dove head first into the event, esp. the speed matches, we'd have been laughed off the stage.

The first speed practice session was nothing short of an absolute fucking disaster, and that's putting it mildly. Michy wasn't there yet so it was 2 of our 3 players and they had no idea what they had signed up for. It was embarrassing. They were tossing checkers wherever, playing poorly, mismanaging time, chaos ruled the board. After that first session we tried to get ahold of Morty/Steen to change our lineup to allow myself to play speed but the lineup had been set, the odds let out on Betfair, and maybe bets already placed so we were stuck with out lineup. After this first practice session the amount of money I wanted to bet on the event bottomed out.

Day #2 of our training sessions brought a sliver of hope into the room. Michy arrived and he was all business. He was exactly what I'd expect out of a speed player. He knew where his time was, he knew where to spend his time. His play was fluid and confident - he was a perfect match for this particular session. Day #2 was also when I decided to get a point across to Falafel and Fernando. I was practicing speed with them and after Falafel had spent like 30-40 seconds in game #1 of a 5 point match I went into complete backgame mode, making blunder after blunder, anything to get more men back and more points in his home board. I knew what I was moving before the dice hit the board so my time was never in trouble but Falafel was asleep. If it wasn't for room service when Falafel was down to 9 seconds and I was in the midst of an extreme backgame I believe he would have timed out that match. He looked up as we centered the clock and he was like "wow I only have 9 seconds left". He was able to finish the match with that amount of time but it should have never come to that point.

I repeated this process later practicing with Fernando only Fernando did time out and lose the match. I think it was a good lesson, while nobody is likely to try such a strategy OtB it teaches you that making the best move isn't always top priority. Making a reasonable move within' a reasonable amount of time (10 second delay) is the number one priority. If you're going to spend time somewhere, it should be on cube decisions in speed.

Still, by the end of day two I was feeling better about speed as Falafel had come a long way from day one. He was much better with the clock and his ER had fallen to where one would hope it would be for speed. Another day or two of practice, which we had, and it should be no problem for him. Fernando still needed some speed work, it wasn't in his blood. I think he was used to playing at a leisurely pace, perhaps too much online, having a pip count in front of him and not having to shake, rattle, and roll.

At this point we decided to pull Fernando from the singles match with Gus and put myself in. We were allowed to make this swap and not the swap we wanted in speed because we had told Morty/Steen long ago we weren't sure who would be playing singles between myself and Fernando so nothing was set in stone. This was good in that it would give Fernando more time to practice speed. On the surface everyone thought this was good too because as Falafel says "it's a joke you aren't playing two events, you have to play two events of course, you're Stick Rice". He's right but the problem arose when Peter was given an active role then I re-arranged the lineup to try to keep everyone happy and took a backseat as a player. The biggest worry in the back of my mind about playing a match of actual length was the only thing I'd been doing for a month was dmps.

The next day of practice things were still even smoother. The next big hitch we had as a team was practicing the full consultation and deciding who would be our roller. I knew that Falafel would want to be front and center but I had my reservations about him having played doubles before. I expressed my concerns but nobody else thought much about it, or if they did, they weren't vocal about it, so I bit my tongue and Falafel rolled in our practice match.

I have to say in that match he did an excellent job. He wasn't argumentative, he listened, and I'd say he was about all you could want in someone leading the team in a final match. Maybe I had been wrong. The next full consultation Katja was there (she wasn't at the first one) and when we took a break to go get food she asked me in short why in the name of Satan was Falafel rolling for us!? I told her I was the only one who was concerned by it and then I relayed to her what a fine job he had done in our first practice session. The thing is I've played doubles with Falafel and so has she and that was where our worries stemmed from. I'm not sure anyone else had played doubles with Falafel (maybe Mochy, not 100%) but Falafel likes to make his play and he'll bet on it. That's all fine and good if you're playing in a regular tourney with some low entry fee but the last thing I really want to be doing in this event is arguing (not discussing) plays and have someone say "we'll bet on the plays". Still, I couldn't argue with how well Falafel performed in the first practice session so we didn't push the issue.

In the second full consultation practice session Falafel performed just as well. He went with the majority without much aggravation, knew who to ask about what plays, etc... After the second session I had changed my opinion that he would make an excellent leader for the final match. Everything else went as planned, a special shout out thanks to Eli, Simonetta, Roland, and Wachtel for helping us practice the full consultation.

Skip ahead to the event where every event was to be clocked (great), every match recorded (awesome), and broadcast both online and on the big screens in the other rooms (sweet). One of the main reasons I wanted this event to take place is to get some of the best players in the world on a big stage, a big event where I knew they'd bring their A game, and have those matches recorded. That was important to me if nobody else. I was a little disappointed when setting up that the recorder had never recorded a speed bg match before.

Audible :sigh:

I annoyingly interjected my presence not once, twice, but at least thrice saying I was able to record the matches. I tried to make it clear without being a dickhead (though probably failed on the later portion) that if you haven't recorded a speed match you're going to ruin the event trying to record it. You'll have to stop every 2 seconds to ask what was rolled, what was played. Recording a speed match you need to be both a great recorder and at least a good player. You need to know what people are playing before they do, able to click and roll. My nuisance paid off and eventually the computer was sacrificed to me.

I had happily pulled the noose around my own neck. I wanted all these matches recorded and I wanted to watch them all so I punished myself by trying to record as many as I could myself. Until you've done something like this you don't realize how tiresome it is. MCG recorded a couple and Julie also recorded a few but in large I recorded everything I could if not playing. I'm the kind of person who likes things done the right way where the right way = my way and will sacrifice if I want something so I don't have to go through the pain of watching some R tard fuck it up. I'm thrilled that all the matches were successfully recorded and we have a record of the entire event.

Let's briefly delve into the actual matches and draw some wild ass conclusions along the way. First up was Michy & Morten. I liked that they were first up as I said, I felt Michy was the most comfortable with the format and maybe we'd get off to a good start. The XG performance rating for these matches is:

  • Speed 1 - Michy 1.5, Morten 8.1, Morten wins
  • Speed 2 - Michy 6.4, Morten 1.5, Morten wins
  • Speed 3 - Michy 4.9, Morten 0.4, Morten wins

Morten had the luck factor in his favor in all matches. I bring this up for a later point I tend to make unrelated to the Nordic though it may be interesting here too. I believe Morten's strategy of playing sick the first match and luckboxing out like a champ to rattle Michy may have worked. Danes lead 9-0.

Next speed match up, Falafel v. Gus:

  • Speed 1 - Falafel 3.2, Gus 2.8, Gus wins
  • Speed 2 - Falafel 2.3, Gus 4.0, Gus wins
  • Speed 3 - Falafel 3.4, Gus 2.9, Gus wins

Gus also had the luck factor in his favor in all his matches. These may be the most interesting matches to see how they are after rollouts as they're the PRs closest in rating right now. (ignoring dmp)

Last speed match, Fernando v. Sander:

  • Speed 1 - Fernando 13.2, Sander 4.3, Sander wins
  • Speed 2 - Fernando 2.9, Sander 3.4, Fernando wins
  • Speed 3 - Fernando 4.6, Sander 1.9, Fernando wins

In these matches the luck was split 2-1 in favor of Fernando who won the two matches where his luck was +++. The first two speed matches were played as scheduled but the last one between Sander & Fernando was rescheduled twice so tallying the score now would not match the score as it was at the actual event. The Danes started off up 12-0 (after the first two speed sessions) and then 18-1 after my dmp session.

Moving on to dmps, I played the first session v. Mads: (I am listing the analyzed GNU ER 2/2 for the dmp matches as XG calculates it differently and it is not what I'm used to seeing or understanding as in how I played and I also don't want to explain it to others)

  • dmp 1 - Stick 1.2, Mads 0.0, Stick wins
  • dmp 2 - Stick 0.3, Mads 0.3, Mads wins
  • dmp 3 - Stick 0.2, Mads 1.6, Mads wins
  • dmp 4 - Stick 0.1, Mads 1.9, Mads wins
  • dmp 5 - Stick 1.7, Mads 0.7, Mads wins
  • dmp 6 - Stick 1.3, Mads 2.6, Mads wins
  • dmp 7 - Stick 0.6, Mads 1.1, Mads wins

Again, whoever was the winner the luck favored that person. So in this case, Mads was luckier in 6/7 matches.

DMP #2, MCG v. Kristensen

  • dmp 1 - MCG 1.7, Thomas 1.9, MCG wins
  • dmp 2 - MCG 0.7, Thomas 1.4, MCG wins
  • dmp 3 - MCG 1.8, Thomas 2.5, MCG wins *(-27.16, -26.81)
  • dmp 4 - MCG 1.5, Thomas 2.7, Thomas wins
  • dmp 5 - MCG 1.1, Thomas 2.7, MCG wins
  • dmp 6 - MCG 1.4, Thomas 0.0, MCG wins
  • dmp 7 - MCG 1.1, Thomas 0.5, Thomas wins

This is the first instance where we see the player having the worst luck winning in dmp 3. You'll note however that the luck is razor close so it's no real surprise.

DMP #3 - Mochy v. Marc

  • dmp 1 - Mochy 1.7, Marc 2.0, Marc wins
  • dmp 2 - Mochy 0.6, Marc 1.3, Marc wins
  • dmp 3 - Mochy 2.5, Marc 1.1, Mochy wins
  • dmp 4 - Mochy 2.0*, Marc 4.2, Marc wins
  • dmp 5 - Mochy 0.4, Marc 0.0, Marc wins
  • dmp 6 - Mochy 0.5, Marc 1.3, Marc wins
  • dmp 7 - Mochy 5.3, Marc 0.2, Marc wins **

The first asterix is because on analysis GNU has Mochy playing nearly a 7 but I couldn't stomach putting that number after looking at the match. GNU dings Mochy with a few huge blunders at the end of the game when he's in a hopeless backgame. In short, GNU is an idiot and I wouldn't let that ER be posted regardless of who it was. I cleared three of the moves where GNU is drunk to get a more representative error rate for that match.

The second set of asterix is where Marc wins because Mochy loses on time. We had 4 minutes per match and a 12 second delay per move and Mochy timed out on what I would call a simple play in the respect that if you have no time left you make the play and move on. (s7uAEwC2bRbAAA:MAEpAAAAAAAA) In my opinion the team's worst blunder of the match, losing on time. I'd be a lot more sick about it if it would have come back to haunt us. This game Mochy technically had better luck but lost, I will ignore this match for my luck stats.

On to doubles and back to XG PR: Falafel/Peter v. Kristensen/Olsen

  • Falafel/Peter 1.4, Kristensen/Olsen 2.4, F/P win

And now Mochy/MCG v. Andersen and Trabolt

  • Mochy/MCG 2.8, Mads/Lars 3.1, M&M win

The team that won (World) again had the better luck factor in both matches.

Singles - Stick v. Gus

  • Stick 2.5, Gus 1.5, Gus wins

Michy v. Sander

  • Michy 2.5, Sander 5.9, Michy wins**

Michy was able to overcome the luck factor in this match which swung heavily enough in Sander's favor. In my match with Gus he had luck on his side.

On to the girl fight, Katja v. Pia.

  • match 1 - Katja 5.9, Pia 4.1, Pia wins
  • match 2 - Katja 1.4, Pia 6.3, Katja wins
  • match 3 - Katja 6.8, Pia 6.3, Katja wins

It should be noted that I somehow switched the players in the girl matches so if you downloaded the matches from me they need to be switched, Katja is Pia & Pia is Katja. In these matches the person with the best luck also won.

So going into the finals the score was 35-29 with the Danes ahead. Let's look at strictly the PRs and add up how each team's score would pan out if we said the winner was the one with the lowest PR. This has flaws inherent to it but it's still fun, so stfu. The grand total going strictly by performance rating or error rating awarding the points going into the final would be World 35, Danes 29, the opposite of what it actually was. This means as the stats also show that the Danes were luckier.

In the final consultation the Danes also had the better of the luck factor. Let me reel back into the final consultation match and pick on Falafel some more. While I said in practice he was perfect for the event in the actual event he was more as I had originally feared but still decent. He wasted what could have ended up being precious time if we had made a comeback talking with the Danes, the crowd, sometimes even with the team. He will claim we had plenty of time and he didn't waste any whereas anyone else on our team I believe would differ since myself, Mochy, and MCG were behind him constantly having to say "Roll Falafel" With a 15 second delay you should never use reserve time on forced moves yet we did. He also said a few things during the match he later apologized for realizing it was out of place. It was no big deal to any of us but funny when he said something along the lines of "this is why I'm rolling to save you guys from making a play like that" and then the "play like that" was right by .05 but we didn't make it. Thanks for the save lol.

I don't feel like the World team was outplayed and the stats don't support that claim either. I also heard we were 'outcoached' which in a sense is true but misleading. We didn't know our teammates so when we're forced to put up a lineup well in advance of the event before we know what people are comfortable playing or where they should be playing, yes, we're going to have some people in the wrong places as we did.

I thought our team did a great job preparing for the event. We were serious, we practiced, we should up to Denmark early to get some real live practice in and for the most part we performed. In retrospect I feel our biggest blunders may have been me not playing speed with the people we had on our team and Mochy's loss on time. I think that I was assigned to dmp helped my bg game more in the long run than if I had been assigned to and practiced for speed so I don't have any real regrets.

It was rumored the Danes weren't practicing, that they didn't really care, yada yada yada. To this I have to call my ass. Nobody likes being put up against the best in such a competition and being outclassed, outplayed, and I'm not buying the Danes are any different. They can sell that "we didn't practice" shit to someone else.

One thing I was disappointed with was the Danes weren't present for most of their teammates matches. There may have been one floating around (Mads or Marc) here and there but for the most part the World felt more like a team whereas the Danes felt like showing up when it was time to play their individual match. To me it was poor form when the women's match was on and our entire team was there and I couldn't find a teammate of Pia's in sight.

They have their excuses and some of them are even valid. Morten had within' the past few days had a child and had other more pressing responsibilities. Gus is Gus and always has Gus things to do. As for the rest, I don't know but would have liked to have seen the Danes take a more active part in following the competition. Morty hyped it well before the event that there would be people there cheering, trying to rattle us, whatever, sounded fun. There was nothing like this.

There are many things about this event I loved and I'm really glad it happened. There are also many things that can be improved upon for the next time something like this is done. I hope to be part of that and I hope it's later this year. Thanks to Steen, Morty, and his team. The Danes really have the best backgammon community in the world from what I saw, hands down and they're also great people.

As always when I write something this long I'm sure I've forgotten things I wanted to say before I started and I didn't even get around to discussing the main as I had hoped. I may add to this later and would be more than happy to answer questions or comment if anyone has any at this time. Others involved in the event should share their 2 cents if they want.

I am in the process of rolling out every play that needs rolled out from every match in the Nordic v. the World. After that is done I will go through and annotate every match as I saw most of them and want to give them a hard look. When this is done I will sell the entire package of rolled out annotated matches off to anyone who is interested. I have yet to decide on a price but for the amount of work I'm putting in I think it will be greatly underpriced. Not only am I rolling out the matches themselves and commenting on the players, plays, and decisions. I will also attach other reference positions rolled out to help understand what's going on in certain positions.

Having watched as many of the matches as possible gives me quite a different insight as opposed to someone who wasn't there and is looking at it as a match file. I have always said if you don't actually see a match you can't accurately judge what went on. Email me if you're interested, price to be determined though if you lead with a price I might be a big enough fish to bite.


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