Grosvenor Qualifiers Reach Halfway Stage

Keep Calm We're Halfway There

Favourites trip up in Manchester and Bristol

Seventy-four more players tried for the cheap route into the 2014 UK Open by entering the most recent qualifiers at Grosvenor Casinos in Didsbury, Manchester (March 15th) and Bristol (April 6th).

Whereas Brighton and London followed the form book, the favourites in the finals of these recent events didn’t quite make it over the finishing line. In Manchester, Brian Lever managed to pull back to DMP after going down 0-6 to Bob Slater, only to have his hopes dashed in the final game. Well done Bob!

Manchester victor: Bob Slater

Manchester victor: Bob Slater

Vanquished: Brian Lever

Vanquished: Brian Lever

Fast forward to Bristol and this time it was Nick Barham’s turn to unseat the favourite. Julian Fetterlein (aka Jooles) was leading 6-4 Crawford and apparently cruising to victory when Nick played his ‘get out of jail free’ card, winning both that game and the DMP game. Congratulations Nick!

Bristol victor: Nick Barham with TD Ian Tarr

Bristol victor: Nick Barham with TD Ian Tarr

Thirty-five players gathered at the Grosvenor Casino in Anchor Road, Bristol by 11.45am on Sunday 6th April for the fourth of eight stops in the Grosvenor UK Open Tour. Of the thirty-eight players who had preregistered, three didn’t make the starting gate….maybe they were too busy celebrating wins on the Grand National the day before. As I was not directing this tournament, and Bristol is less than two hours from my home in West London, it did not seem completely insane for me to make the trip.

Ian Tarr directed the proceedings with his usual calm efficiency and play was under way by noon as scheduled. Grosvenor staff also helped to make everything run like clockwork, with plenty of playing space provided in two areas of the casino. I was fortunate not to have to play in one of the three first round matches and I rolled well enough to cruise through my first match against John Plummer. In the second I rolled even better and John Chester didn’t make it onto the scoreboard.

My quarter-final match against Julian Fetterlein was much tougher with the lead switching several times. At 4-4 (to 7) I was faced with this particularly unappetising cube:

XGID=-a----EaC---dE--ab-d-Ab--A:0:0:-1:00:4:4:0:7:10

XGID=-a—-EaC—dE–ab-d-Ab–A:0:0:-1:00:4:4:0:7:10

Red (Jooles) on roll at 4-4 to 7.
Cube action?

For money, this early blitz position would be a solid double and an even more solid take. However in a match, as you might expect, cube action is hugely score-dependent. Even with both players requiring at least four points, the correct action can vary with score from No Double/Take to Double/Pass depending on the values of both gammons and cube ownership. I have learnt a lot about blitz cubes from Jooles over the years, which helped me to conclude that this was probably a money take. At this score I was not at all confident, but took nonetheless. XG says very thin take; against Julian my take must be correct because I want each game to be worth more to reduce the number of lucky wins I need in order to win the match. Had the score been 3-all rather than 4-all, equating to perfectly efficient gammons, this would have been a huge pass.

A couple of moves later and I am the one blitzing Julian…after a fashion. He still has a man on the roof when I roll this ‘insane’ double aces:

XGID=a-B--aCbC---bE-AAabd--b---:1:1:1:11:4:4:0:7:10

XGID=a-B–aCbC—bE-AAabd–b—:1:1:1:11:4:4:0:7:10

Score: 4-4 to 7
Blue (Peter, owning a 2-cube) to play double aces

OK, the roll isn’t ‘insane’ but Jooles thought that the play I found was! Before you look at XG’s verdict (at the bottom) just pick a few candidate plays worthy of consideration here.

In the sequence which followed I sent several more enemy checkers back and Julian fell into a holding game with anchors on my bar point and my 4-point. I probably left it one roll too late to recube, and so reached 6-4 Crawford. Soon afterwards it was DMP and my hopes of winning a priming battle in the final game were dashed by Julian’s timely, and crushing, set of double sixes.

Julian’s semi-final opponent, Andy Boysan, was doing well with a 4-2 lead until the roof caved in and he lost a triple on a 2-cube. This landed Jooles in the final against Nick Barham.

Julian Fetterlein poised to double Nick Barham

Julian Fetterlein poised to double Nick Barham

And so we reach the scenario mentioned earlier, with Julian leading 6-4 Crawford and bearing off with apparently little danger, until…

XGID=-aDDB-------------aa-bcbe-:0:0:1:63:6:4:1:7:10

XGID=-aDDB————-aa-bcbe-:0:0:1:63:6:4:1:7:10

Julian (Blue) to play 63, leading 6-4 (Crawford)

Even after rolling this inconvenient 63, Jooles is over 97% to win the match. There is not much to choose between the two legal plays – about 0.15% MWC. Taking the extra checker off compensates for leaving two hit and cover numbers (31) versus one (11), and also for the slim chance of leaving an additional shot – the enemy sentry will be forced to flee soon anyway. Whilst investigating this position I discovered that a Snowie rollout slightly understates Red’s winning chances (compared with XG), which I believe to be because its checker plays in rollouts are not score dependent. Presumably it prematurely runs Red’s back checker to avoid a meaningless ‘gammon’ loss. This would explain why XG reports much higher gammon rates for Blue – it knows Red has to stay until forced to go. In a money game rollout XG comes up with gammon rates in much closer agreement with Snowie.

In the match, Jooles made the 0.15% error of hitting. You can guess what happened next: Nick found double aces, Jooles danced for a long time and Nick won the race….which brings to mind those ‘insane’ double aces of mine in Position 2. What are your candidate plays?

Here is XG’s verdict on the top four, all within a 0.05 equity spread:

XGID=a-B--aCbC---bE-AAabd--b---:1:1:1:11:4:4:0:7:10

XGID=a-B–aCbC—bE-AAabd–b—:1:1:1:11:4:4:0:7:10

Score: 4-4 to 7
Blue (Peter, owning a 2-cube) to play double aces

XGID=a-B--aCbC---bE-AAabd--b---:1:1:1:11:4:4:0:7:10

If you considered either 2/1(2) or 6/5*(3) as part of your move, congratulations! Such abominations would have been ridiculed in the 1970s when Julian and I both learned to play. I didn’t consider anything including 2/1(2) but there is some logic to it. The checkers on my 8-point work better as attackers if they are aiming at four, rather than three, open points in my board, and the acepoint is eliminated as a relatively safe haven for a vulnerable enemy blot. I did play 6/5*(3) but unfortunately my fourth ace was the inferior 15/14. Diversification of the rearmost checkers gains little here where they are not within direct range of my board; the security of an outfield anchor (16/15) gains more.

For the next stop in the Grosvenor Qualifier we are back at the Vic in London, on Saturday 31st May – see the qualifiers page for further information.

I hope to see many of you again there. Once again numbers will be limited to 64 so, to avoid disappointment, please register by email to peter@ukbgf.com.

Meanwhile, don’t dismiss those insane-looking plays without due consideration!

Comments

  1. Rob says

    Interesting position, especially the 2 point to 1 point move with the double 1 roll.

    Thanks for that Peter.

  2. David Jones says

    What an excellent article, with some interesting positions – thank you, Peter, for taking the time and care to write it.