Denmark Vs World/Some thoughts

At the recent Nordic Open, many of Denmark's best players competed against many of the best players in the world.  Denmark won, which was not surprising given the strength of their team and possibly some "home-court" advantage, but it's clear they not only had good dice, they outplayed the World team by an average of
1.3 PR to 2.0 PR  (as reported below by MCG).

If you understand what PR ratings mean, YOU MUST BE COMPLETELY FLOORED by these numbers, as I am.  I suspect that if you take out the highest and lowest PR's and go with the median, these numbers come down significantly.

This is amazing backgammon.  I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that no tournament or backgammon event has ever seen such high quality of play before.  I also don't think it is an exaggeration to say that this proves that not only are the best players of today playing better than ever, they are, by definition,  also playing more closely to what the bots say is right.

My "guess" is that some of the "errors" reported, if rolled out further, might not even be errors at all, and even after the rollouts, it is probable that some of the so-called errors are actually better than the bot's plays.  In my opinion, if it were possible to play "perfectly" the PR rating would have to be above 0 because the bots must be wrong on at least some of the plays (since the bots have not as yet reached "perfection").

I want to go on record as personally being in awe of these players, as well as the few other great players around the world that did not compete in this particular event who have also shown an ability to play at these levels.  Clearly there were many greats not at this event for one reason or another that have demonstrated similar levels of play in recent months, and I believe most of them have been recognized in the recent Giant voting.

What are the ramifications of this information?  To me, as a competitor in the Open Division, it means that if I want to be competitive, I have to keep working hard on my game.  I am considered a relatively good Open player, but I rarely play at under 4.0 in a recorded match, and in some matches where I have been unlucky enough to face a lot of very tough decisions, I might post as high as a 7 or 8 PR.   It would take a lot of luck for me to win a tournament with several of these true WC players entered. 

So why do I, and so many others, fight this uphill battle year after year?  First and foremost, because its fun.  Backgammon is not just about winning, and even if you don't win the tournament, there is a reasonable chance to cash; there are side events (I have won the Minis in my last three tournaments and won doubles with my wife, Randee, in several tournaments).  Also, I simply don't have that much experience yet, so the more I play in tournaments the better chance I have to improve (I've only been playing for 50 years). 

At tournaments I also get the benefit of watching, talking to, and learning from some of the best players in the world.  One reason I am not a better player is I haven't had the benefit of really good coaching so far, as I've only taken lessons and coaching from Kit, Nack, Jake, Perry, Neil, David Rockwell, Malcolm, Howard Ring, Oswald, Meyerburg, Corbett, Sly, Wells, Meunch, Laila, O'Hagan, Weaver, Stick, MCG, Sax and Hickey.

To others, the ramifications of these low PR's might mean something else.  It might discourage them from spending a lot of time and money to travel to tournaments where they feel they have little chance to win.  They might think, as many do, that there needs to be a "professional" division above the Open Division.  Without naming names, there are many players who have won Intermediate or Advanced titles that feel they have no chance in the Open, and they say they have no place to compete if they are forced to move up.  Some of these people have simply quit playing tournaments, and it's a shame to lose them.  The truth is, those players, like most at the low end of the Open Division, post PR's of 7 to 11 or even more on occasion, and they truly do have little chance against 3.0 players in a tournament with longer matches.

Yes, of course there are exceptions that prove the rule, and we can point to many tournament winners that came from the bottom of the list, but the odds are that the 30-1 shot is going to win once in a while. 

So maybe there is some validity to having a higher division?  Or maybe that is what the "Masters" events are for.  It's worth some thought for the future.

Denmark vs. World team:

Morten Holm 3.1 vs. Michy 4.6
Gus Hansen 3.0 vs. Falafel 2.8
Sander Lylloff 3.1 vs. Fernando 8.4

Mads Andersen 3.1 vs. Stick 1.4
Thomas Kristensen 3.9 vs. MCG 2.6
Marc Olsen vs. 4.1 vs. Mochy 3.2

Mads Andersen/Lars Trabolt 3.1 vs. MCG/Mochy 3.2
Thomas Kristensen/Marc Olsen 2.5 vs. Falafel/Peter Heitmuller 1.5

Gus Hansen 1.5 vs. Stick 2.5
Sander Lylloff 5.9 vs. Michy 2.6

Pia Jeppesen 5.2 vs. Katja Spillum 5.8

Denmark 1.3 vs. The World 2.0