Fourteen players gathered at East Midlands Airport this weekend to get the first British tournament in the BMAB’s Masters Series underway under the watchful eye of Rick Janowski. As we reported earlier, the aim is two-fold – to win games, of course, and to play with as low an error rate as possible. To make that possible, every game is recorded on video, transcribed and analysed. And that gave the tournament a different feel from the start – instead of a wide variety of personalised boards of varying sizes, we arrived to find standard sized boards with high contrast pieces and tape marks on the tables to position them exactly for the array of cameras positioned above. Players were also shepherded to specific boards with nameplates so that none could end up on the wrong video by mistake, with Rick watching in on an impressive array of laptops…
We had a couple of minor false starts with loose USB connections, but we were soon off and running with three rounds of 11-point matches. The truncated round robin format meant that winners in one round weren’t necessarily pitched against other winners, and by the end of round three we had five undefeated players – Julian Fetterlein, Chris Rogers, Sean Clennell, Mark Calderbank and Martin Barkwill. The conversation throughout the day suggested that most of us were concentrating more on our PR and less on the actual winning – although the two ought to go together most of the time – and we all had figures in mind which we hoped to achieve… we’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to find out if we were successful or not.
The day concluded with dinner and the inevitable late night chouettes and speed games – fortunately not so late to delay the start of day 2! The round-robin carried on keeping the big guns apart so that after four rounds we still had Julian, Chris and Sean with clean sheets; all three carried on their form through round five leading to a lengthy discussion on hedging the prize. The final round saw Chris lose quickly, followed by Sean, while Julian’s final game was the last to finish – with an 11-7 victory over Adam Stocks to take home a clean sheet, a very well deserved trophy and the prize pools.
Five players ended up with five wins from six, the prize money was split and rather than wade through tie-break calculations, the silver trophy was decided by highest roll. Jon Barnes rolled double threes to collect a souvenir of a very memorable weekend.
The full transcripts will in due course be published, but here’s a couple of sample positions. Would your answers differ trying to beat a human opponent, or trying to minimise the error against XG? First, I’m well ahead against Adam, but what’s your cube action here? (I doubled, Adam took and recubed automatically, then rolled 66 and went on to win)
Second, one from my game with Tariq – he’s on roll here in a game that could swing quickly either way, what’s your cube action?
(He doubled, I took, he was hoping for a pass! Tariq’s board crashed before either desired number appeared; I got my 4 first but only in the form of a 42, and Tariq went on to win a very close race. Ah well, there’s always the PR prize…)