In recent times the tournament world seems to have settled largely on knockouts, either plain or double-elimination, with reasonably length matches of odd numbers of points, as the format of choice. One year ago, the inaugural Ides of March Cambridge Invitational tournament broke this mould with an innovative approach. A select group of 8 leading players – Peter Bennet, Julian Fetterlein, John Hurst, Jason Pack, Lawrence Powell, Tariq Siddiqi, and Sean Williams, together with eXtremeGammon – played out a round robin of increasing-length matches, starting with a 2-pointer and progressing up to an 8-pointer.
At the end of this process, the top two played a final 11-pointer, with a twist – bringing home more victories in the round robin, and a victory against the other finalist, would earn head-start points in the final. Ultimately Sean would triumph and claim not only a substantial cash prize but also a backgammon-themed painting – an unusual and delightful alternative to a trophy. (I can’t help wondering what eXtremeGammon would have done with a cash prize, perhaps we shall never know!)