• 2018 - Position 84


    Match Play. 0-0 to 7. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take?



  • 2018 - Position 83


    Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

    This is basically an even race but red has the advantage of restraining White’s rear checker with a broken prime. However, that prime will be hard to improve given the four Red checkers on the 2-pt.

    White can win by escaping his checker and winning the race or by hitting a shot as Red bears in. This makes it a very easy take.

    Red has just enough advantage to be able to double and quite a few players would drop as White, so in practice a double is mandatory.



  • Match Play Mentality II

    Fear can do terrible things to players in match play, particularly towards the end of a match when one error can cost the whole match. This week’s position is a classic example of how fear can affect even the best players.

    Black led 6-4 to 7, post-Crawford. He has just rolled 54 and must decide how to play it. Unfortunately, he failed the test dramatically by choosing the ‘obvious’ 7/2, 6/2. This does make a fourth home board point but leaves Black stripped on all his outfield points. His (erroneous) thinking was that if he did not have to leave any shots so why should he do so. He didn’t want to expose multiple blots because of the fear (that word again) of losing a gammon.

    The game continued with White making his 5-pt with a 31 and then Black got into difficulty clearing those outer board points, left a shot, got hit and went on to lose a gammon and the match.

    Fear had got to Black in a very bad way indeed. Had he looked logically instead of emotionally at the position, he would have reasoned as follows:

    After the roll I will be 49 pips ahead, that indicates a running play; White has a completely undeveloped board but all his checkers are in play so now is the time to take a small risk; if White hits I want him to have to give up his rear anchor to do so as I have the stronger home board in any hitting battle; I don’t really want to safety the checker on my bar-point as I would like to make that point and on the bar-pt it is also a builder for my 5-pt, another point I want to make.

    Thinking like this Black would quickly have spotted 15/11, 15/10. At a stroke he has cleared the most difficult of his outer board points and brought builders to bear on the points he really wants to make. Only 44, 22 and 43 hit two Black blots so surely the risk must be worth the reward.

    Looked at in the cold light of day the correct move is very clear, but the problem is that over-the-board play exerts pressures not evident in that clear light of day. Given this as a quiz problem most strong players would get it right. The question is what percentage of them would make the correct play under the pressure of a match situation? My estimate would be no more than 60%.

    In technical terms 7/2, 6/2 is a blunder, costing Black 4% in game-winning chances. Yes, 15/11, 15/10 does lose more gammons but not nearly enough to compensate for the error in moving 7/2, 6/2.



  • Website Holiday

    Since I started this website more than five years ago I have managed to post most days (not Sundays) except when skiing or on a golf tour and have never taken more than a week off.

    However, for the next 12 days i will touring around Tuscany by train and have decided to take a complete break from backgammon for the first time in many years.

    I will return with the weekend article on Sunday 20th May and then normal service will be resumed on Monday 21st May. I trust you can all survive two weeks without wrestling with 'Position of the Day'!!

    See you on the 20th May.

    Kind Regards




  • 2018 - Position 82


    Match Play. Red trails 4-6 to 7. How should Red play 55?

    I like this one because the solution looks so anti-positional.

    We are taught never to give up our 6-pt and so many would play 11/1*, 7/2(2)* but the correct solution is 7/2(2)*, 6/1(2)*.

    This looks odd, but it is the best play to optimise the use of Red’s checkers, allowing the checkers on the 10-, 11- and 12-pts to become active as soon as possible. Any other play is a blunder.


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