• 2017 - Position 215

    XGID=--BB-BB---A------A-bbB-Ci-:1:1:1:00:2:3:0:7:10

    Match Play. Red trails 2-3 to 7. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take?

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  • 2017 - Position 214

    XGID=-CACBBC-----b----abb-cabbA:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

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

    This is very nearly a last roll position but the blot on Red’s 2-pt means there is life after death if for White if he gets hit.

    Is Red the equity favourite because of the gammons he wins? Impossible to calculate over the board. A rollout gives Red a tiny equity advantage and XG has doubling correct but only by 0.009.

    Therefore, any decision you make is Red is basically correct. White has a take but not a beaver because of the gammon losses.

    The key is to at least think about doubling here – many would not give it a second thought.

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  • 2017 - Position 213

    XGID=-a-BA-DBA---cC---d-eb---B-:0:0:1:61:4:4:0:5:10

    Match Play. Double Match Point. How should Red play 61?

    When I set this problem, I thought the DMP play would vary from the best money play but in fact the best is the same in both instances.

    White has eleven checkers in the attack zone so any splitting play is fraught with danger. Neither can Red play this as a blitz.

    Red’s best game plan is to play this as a two-way game by playing 13/7, 6/5. This gives him the possibility of priming White’s rear checkers but if his blots get hit he can try for a back game or many different types of low anchor game. Any play other than 13/7, 6/5 is an error.

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  • 2017 - Position 212

    XGID=cDCBC-B----------A-bcbbc--:1:1:1:43:0:0:1:0:10

    Money Play. How should Red play 43?

    I happened upon this position while watching some games on GridGammon. Red played 17/13, 4/1 with the obvious intention of avoiding 55 by White.

    What he failed to do was to look further ahead. After his play 62 next turn is ruinous and 53 is a weakener. This is definitely a case of paying now rather than later. 6/3, 6/2 is even worse as it significantly reduces the percentage of gammon wins.

    Any move other than 17/10 is at least a blunder.

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  • Some Thoughts on Double Match Point

    We are so used to having the doubling cube in play and making checker play decisions based upon the cube position that we sometimes find it hard to adapt our thinking when the cube is not in play at all.

    The most obvious example of this is at Double Match Point (DMP) when not only is the cube not in play but gammons and backgammons do not count either. Given that DMP is the most critical score that you can have in a match it is surprising just how many mistakes are made at this score.

    As a reminder one of the things we seek to do at DMP is to make sure that we keep all the checkers in play. Dead checkers are normally ruinous at DMP because, as you cannot win with the cube, it is crucial to have one’s whole army at one’s disposal.

    I was guilty of very muddy thinking in this week’s position at DMP. As Black I had 65 to play and spent a long time considering whether to play 14/3, creating a five-point prime, but one that may not live very long, or the more aggressive 8/3, 8/2*, following the principle of attacking a lone rear checker.

    In the end, I chose the hitting play and won quite easily as my next several rolls all had a five in them. Feeling pleased with myself I followed my usual practice of analysing the match with XG. To my chagrin I discovered that my move was a blunder and even 14/3 was an error.

    The best move was one that I hadn’t even considered: 23/12! Once you see the play its benefits are clear. Primarily it ensures that Black maintains his timing and all his checkers remain in play. In addition, it provides outer board coverage if White escapes his rear checker. Note also that if White hits Black’s blot on his 3-pt, whilst not ideal, it may help to preserve Black’s timing if he stays on the bar for a roll or two.

    I think that 23/12 is difficult to see because it plays to the abnormal conditions defined by DMP and I did not have my thinking correctly tuned for that circumstance. If this position occurred in a money game it is likely that Black would own the cube. In that case 14/3 would very clearly be the correct move because it significantly reduces the number of gammons lost. 8/3, 8/2* would then be a double blunder because of the gammons.

    So in summary make sure that at DMP you have the right mind-set as the game begins and try to keep all your checkers in play because that gives you more flexibility and hopefully, more routes, to victory.

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