Petko vs. Lars: The Semi-Final of the WC of BG Analyzed
Many in the backgammon community feel that the World Championships at Monte Carlo are a bit of a misnomer. The World Championships no longer usually feature the majority of the world’s best players and its Championship division field is not the strongest field of players on the international circuit, as the top flights at Chicago and Copenhagen are arguably quite a bit stronger. And yet, in some years the World Championship manages to live up to its billing. Its longer matches and relaxed format can produce stunningly high quality play, dramatic matches, and psychological fireworks. 2013 was such a year. In this article and in another next month, we will investigate the two most important, well-played, and exciting matches of Monte Carlo 2013. These matches also happened to be the only two displayed on the big screen in the main playing room, accompanied by insightful live commentary by Falafel: the Semi-final between Petko Kostadinov (USA) and Lars Trabalt (DEN) and the Final between Vyacheslav Pryadkin (UKR) and Lars Trabolt (DEN)….
In over five hours and thirty games, Lars Trabolt managed to come back from a 0-10 to 23 deficit to reach his third World Championship final in the span of six years. He had done so against a strong, yet clearly fatigued opponent whose tendencies he accurately diagnosed and ruthless exploited. Had Lars not played such brilliant backgammon, Petko’s errors as highlighted in this article would likely never have transpired. Backgammon is a game of Ying and Yang, ebb and flow. Students of backgammon should study and re-study this match for its myriad psychological and positional insights. Fate would have it that many of the key areas of backgammon are amply covered in this match: attacking middle game cubes, backgames, recubes, racing cubes at uneven scores, and the exploitation of psychological dynamics.
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