Stuck on the Bar

I learned some more lessons at the “Virginia Backgammon Club”: last night. I won one match and lost two, which is better than the previous couple of times, though my second-place win from a few months ago is starting to seem like a fluke. Over at the Grounds I’ve been on the mother of all losing streaks, which either means that Fortuna has it in for me or my game is off for some reason.

I think I know what’s wrong, and ironically it was the match that I _won_ that made it clear. I was ahead 2-0 in a three point match, and was bearing off with two checkers on each of my inner table points except the four point. My opponent, Constantine, hadn’t taken anyone off yet and had a guy on the bar. Pretty sweet position, right? I roll a 4-1. And what do I do? 5-off. Not 6-5 6-2, the only sensible move, I leave him a blot to hit, which of course he does, leading to a nailbiting finish instead of a straightforward win or maybe even a gammon.

It wasn’t that I considered the right move and made the wrong choice. It’s that I overlooked the obvious. And this was in a tournament, where I was making a point of being both careful and observant. If I can miss something so blatant, who knows how many other opportunities to make the best move that I’ve missed, in situations where it’s not quite as clear cut? My problem isn’t strategy; it’s focus. I take pride on playing a quick game, but it’s time to slow down.

In other backgammon news: I won’t say that “this”: is the coolest board ever, because I’ve seen some very cool boards. But it’s still pretty cool.