Munitz Continues Winning Ways
at Georgia State Championships

by Gregg Cattanach - 22 September 2006
Richard Munitz


Richard Munitz of New York continued his torrid run through the 2006 ABT events at the Georgia State Championships. He had the winning touch during Friday's Peach Cup Masters Jackpot winning the small (4 players) but spirited event.

On Saturday, in the main Championship Division, he won his first three matches, positioning himself as the undefeated player in the double-elimination format. On Sunday he need to only win one of two matches against the player coming from the single-loss bracket. He was tripped once by Petko Kostadinov of North Carolina in the first of their two final matches, but prevailed in the second match to become the 2006 Georgia State Champion.

This extended Richard's 1st place position in the ABT points total for the year. He is now 6.53 points ahead of second place and 28.02 points ahead of 3rd (I'm the player in second place).

There still are five more ABT events for 2006 but Richard certainly is in the cat-bird seat as far as the yearly competition is concerned. He told me he will attend several of the remaining events, and with his good play and good rolling he certainly has a good chance to score more points.

There are still lots of points available to be won, especially at the Las Vegas Open (Nov. 1-5), so that is the main wild-card for any attempts to unseat Richard as the ABT leader. The tournament in Seattle (Sept. 29-Oct. 1) and Los Angeles (Dec. 1-3) should also have large fields with many points at stake.

Richard Munitz, Georgia Champion, Peach Cup Winner.

The Georgia Championships had a very small attendance and this may mark the last installment for this tournament. However, Atlanta has not been abandoned as an ABT venue. The newest event on the ABT tour will be the Southeast Backgammon Championships to be held next spring from May 4-6, 2007. I will co-direct this event with Jeb Horton (NC), and we anticipate a very large crowd and top-notch competition at a fine hotel. We have $4000 in added prize money for the main events, so we hope for a great turnout at our inaugural tournament.

In other results, Vadim Musaelyan (NC) captured the Dogwood Trophy and Jenni Charmichael (GA) topped the Advanced division. To complete the family affair, Tom Charmichael (GA) was the best of the Novices.

Vadim Musaelyan, Dogwood Jackpot Winner.
Jenni Charmichael, Advanced Winner.

Here are some tricky situations that came up for me over the weekend:

Early in my Peach Cup match with Richard Munitz, I had this 5-5 to play:

Red to play 5-5
Red: Gregg Cattanach, score 0
White: Richard Munitz, score 1
Match to 13.

This number will put me substantially ahead in the race and likely in a doubling position if things go well. I thought that hitting on the ace point and running to the 15-point would be best, winning the game with a double out if Richard manages to fan. This is true as far as it goes, but is the wrong approach by a large margin. The numbers that hit on the 15-point are completely unduplicated from the numbers that enter, and thus there is a large collection of numbers that hit back from the bar.

It turns out the best approach is to bring them all around with bar/10, and simply play the safest 5 remaining as 8/3. On first glance the two blots on the 8 and 9 points look rather vulnerable, but counting it up shows that White can only hit with 7 numbers. This setup will lead to an efficient double-in a great deal of the time. Making the ace point creates a large market loss when it works, but gets hit back quite often and leaves Red with little or no advantage.

I played World Cup Champion Malcolm Davis in the first round of the main event and had another big set to play:

Red to play 6-6
Red: Gregg Cattanach, score 4
White: Malcolm Davis, score 3
Match to 11.

I thought that maintaining the purity of the 5-prime was important, so making the low points on my board would be wrong. My play was 23/17(2) 6/4. Unfortunately, this prevents setting up a maximum coverage setup when White has to run from the 9 point. With White's basically nonexistent home board, being able to trap a hit checker behind a 5 or 6 prime is much less important than making sure I actually have a checker to trap. The best play is step out to the 17 point then make the ace and deuce points in the home board. This maximizes the hitters and there still will be at least one loose checker to attack the open 3 point.

In my Consolation match with Vadim Musaelyan on Sunday this tricky cube problem came up:

White on roll, cube action?
Red: Gregg Cattanach, score 0
White: Vadim Musaelyan, score 6
Match to 9.

At any normal score or for money this would be a big pass. More than two-thirds of White's win are gammons. But at this score it turns out to be a big error to double and a bigger error to pass. Red has the luxury of redoubling to 4 at any provocation, canceling White's gammons and forcing the game to be played to the end. Red's home board structure is formidable, and there could be an exchange of hits and a fan at the wrong moment to make Red a big favorite. White only wins about 70% of these games, and Red should take advantage of that fact to slug it out, and should redouble to 4 with nearly any threat of a turnaround.

Congratulations to Richard for his near-perfect tournament. However, I'm going to make my best effort to pass him in the ABT race in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Before Las Vegas the Pacific Northwest, Illinois and Minnesota Championships will be held, so there is a nice collection of tournaments still remaining this year on the ABT tour.


Gregg Cattanach's previous reports can be found in the News Section.


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