How to Prepare for the Big Tournament
By Phil Simborg
If you have ever played at a live backgammon tournament, you
know that there is nothing else like it.
I’ve played in many, and my adrenaline goes up every time. One thing is certain, when I spend all that
money to enter, get a hotel room, travel, and sacrifice such a great deal of my
personal life and time to play, I don’t just go to fool around. I want to win, or at least do as well as I
I am sure everyone has their own ways of preparing, but here
are some things that have worked for me.
- KNOW THE RULES. If you take the time to read the rules,
you will feel more comfortable about what to do and what not to do, and
you can focus on your game, not on trying to keep from doing something
- KNOW THE FORMAT. Read the tournament information. Know what time you are supposed to be
there, what to bring, how many points you are supposed to play to, what
divisions there are, and what side events you might be interested in.
- CLEAR YOUR MIND. Take care of what you need to take care
of at home so you can relax and focus on the event. Turn off your cell phone and take care
of personal business between matches or during breaks.
- MAKE A MENTAL COMMITMENT TO
EXCELLENCE. I psyche myself to commit to giving
everything I have to the event. I
personally cannot play my best if I take the competition lightly. It is too easy to make blunders if you
are relaxed over the board. For me,
consistently playing well requires intensity. It requires my wanting to make the best
play every play, no matter what the score or how far ahead or behind I am
in the match or tournament. One of
my favorite expressions is:
“Excellence is a habit.”
- BRUSH UP ON THE BASICS. I study the match equity and take
points, price of gammons, make sure I understand the Trice Formula and
Keith Count, and I look over my notes about things like the Doubling Cube
Process and Rules of Thumb.
- BRING THE RIGHT TOOLS. I bring a camera and my computer and I
make sure I am ready to record key plays and study them after the match or
during break times. I want to know
what my mistakes are, not just so that I can learn from each play, but so
I can see what kind of mistakes I am making so I can adjust.
- COME TO LEARN. I make it a point to watch some of the
best players when I have time, and even more important to listen to them,
hang out with them, go to dinner with them, and learn from them. I have learned almost as much during
dinner breaks at major tournaments as I have from all of the books I have
read! Most of the top players in
the game are happy to share what they know with people who demonstrate
they are eager to listen and learn.