Fun and frustration

Forum Archive : Fun and frustration

Losing streaks

From:   Leo Bueno
Date:   3 November 1999
Subject:   100 point FIBS rating point drop.

I had been steadily improving my rating on FIBS until it reached a tad
above 1700.  It oscillated for a couple of weeks then, kaput, I dropped
to barely above 1600 in another couple of weeks.  What's going on?  Has
my brain suffered some organic damage or something?  I was getting the
feeling that I was starting to understand the game; now I am not too
sure I do.

Ed Collins  writes:

I had to look at who wrote the above post to make sure that "I" didn't,
since it could easily have come from me!  My only advice is to hang in
there.  You're not alone.

CCSlsbry  writes:

Backgammon, as we all know, is an often-maddening pursuit.  Losing streaks
and 100-point rating plunges can make one doubt one's competence, sanity,
or worse. However it has been noted that even the 'bots Snowie and
Jellyfish have occasional precipitous rating drops, and presumably their
quality of play never varies.  So basically, as hard to take as they are,
losing streaks are a part of this wonderful game.

Walter Trice  writes:

It happens frequently to players at all levels.  A couple of years ago Kit
Woolsey went from over 2000 to around 1820 in a short period of time. (And
then back again.) I have had a few 80-point downturns on FIBS and
Gamesgrid. Normally the explanation is simply a streak of bad luck.

Sometimes it works in the other direction, which is more fun, of course.
It's my opinion that the formula lets ratings fluctuate excessively.

Rich Reasin  writes:

You must learn how to fight back and beat this thing.  One way is to
identify the items that cause your game to go off.  Then when "Lady Luck"
turns against you, you can retrace your steps and discover the root cause
of your poor play.

I was very fortunate.  Early on in my backgammon career, I was able
to isolate the root causes of my poor play.  Periods of high sunspot
activity throw my game into the sewer.  I just avoid playing during peak
periods.  However, these solar eruptions are difficult to predict  and can
occur when I am in the middle of a match.  You know the scenario, ahead
9-0 in a 11 point match, and lose.  In an attempt to prevent as many of
these  "events" as possible, I have begun to carry a portable C-B radio.
When sunspot activity is high, the radio is engulfed with static.  The
results of the C-B test are still out, but look promising.  I have had far
fewer big losing streaks than usual.

Michael Strato  writes:

Leo, try this, when you sit down to play clear your mind. Forget about
those little everyday worries like a bill you have to pay, a problem with
your car or so many others. This is the time you are dedicating to the game
you love.

Don't think negative. Don't expect the worse. Wish it on your opponent. Ask
for your best possible roll before you click to get your dice. When you get
hit and you're against an opponent's strong homeboard to get in, take your
time, stay calm, count to 7 before you click to get your dice.

When your position looks good and you're wondering "should I double?" then
just do it, don't think "no, maybe I will wait one more roll". If your
position is that good, then your opponent should see it too and drop. When
you get doubled consider the following. Is it a bluff? Don't think only of
the worst possible rolls your opponent can get and drop in fear of getting
gammoned. Check your position well, how good of a home you have, what the
timing looks like and what good rolls can come to put you in the position
to re-double.

Being brave sometimes doesn't mean we played wrong, some gambles pay off.
Keep in mind that the higher you get in your rating the tougher the
competition will be, that's the fun. In the end, we are only playing for
points not money or blood. Points and elo are only pride and ego. We can
play backgammon all our lives and still learn something new everyday. That
is the challenge of the game.
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Fun and frustration

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Losing streaks  (Leo Bueno+, Nov 1999) 
Losing streaks  (Jim Peplow, July 1998) 
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