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!)
You can read Sean’s full summary of the tournament here, complete with analysis of a number of interesting positions that arose over the course of the day. It proved to be a very enjoyable and successful format.
This year the Ides Of March will return on the eponymous day, the 15th March, and will expand to 16 players and move to London’s Hippodrome. The format is similar, with two parallel increasing round-robins, leading to a final and 3rd/4th place playoff, and once again there will be unique watercolours as well as a roll-up board and vintage port as extra-special prizes. There will be cash for every victory along the way, ensuring that there is never a “dead rubber”. Full details can be found at the tournament’s official site.
An early-bird rate for registration will end on 15th February.