• 2018 - Position 118

    XGID=--aBBCCc----AB---bAdbcA---:0:0:1:00:0:0:1:0:10

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

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  • 2018 - Position 117

    XGID=-B-aCbC-C--B-a---bbeb--B--:0:0:1:41:0:0:3:0:10

    Money Play. How should Red play 41?

    Red’s problem is his rear checkers which are well blocked. The 1 must therefore be played 23/22. This gives an escape route and plays to the maxim: ‘when ahead in the race, race’.

    The 4 should be played 8/4, keeping the checker in play as far as possible.

    Over the board Red played 8/3* but that is the wrong game plan. White’s anchor precludes a blitz and the last thing Red wants is another checker sent back behind White’s four-point prime. 23/22, 6/2 is an error while 8/3* is a bad error but not quite a blunder.

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  • Thinking Ahead

    Whenever you roll a double it is worth taking a little extra time over the move because there are likely to be multiple choices. That was the case with Black’s double threes in this week’s position. Over the board he played the apparently sensible 21/18(2), 8/2. This play escapes the rear checkers, tidies up the blot on the 2-pt and gives Black a small lead in the race.

    A very reasonable play and at Double Match Point it is tied with 21/18(2), 8/5(2) as the best play. However, the position occurred in a money game and Black not only has to make a move but also think about his game plan. The doubling cube is still centred so that must part of his thinking.

    White has a single rear checker so Black should be thinking about attacking it if he can. 7/1(2)* is clearly not the right idea but how about planning to attack next turn if things go favourably for him? This thinking will lead Black to find 8/5(2), 7/4(2). Now his four-and-a-half point board is a real threat and White must take some action. Not only does he have the blot on Black’s ace-point to worry about, but he also has to worry about the blot on his 11-pt.

    Let’s give White a 32 after Black plays 8/5(2), 7/4(2). He will play 11/6. Now Black has a very dynamic position and he has a good double which White will take. Black will then mount an attack against White’s rear checker and if successful he will win a fair percentage of gammons.

    The ability to double efficiently and the prospect of gammons is what makes 8/5(2), 7/4(2) a stronger move than 21/18(2), 8/2. Neither of those factors come into play at Double Match Point and so of course Black needs a different game plan for that special score.

    Black wins about 7% more gammons with 8/5(2), 7/4(2) and that is enough to make 21/18(2), 8/2 a small error as far as XG is concerned. Once you make the move the strength of it becomes obvious, but you can only make the play if you see it in the first place. If Black has his ‘safety first’ cap on he will never consider the move and the chance will be lost. So, always try to think ahead and have a clear idea of your game plan.

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  • 2018 - Position 116

    XGID=--aAbaD-C-a-aE---a-bccAA--:0:0:1:31:0:0:3:0:10

    Money Play. How should Red play 31?

    The ‘obvious play is 8/5, 6/5*. Also possible is 13/12*, 13/10* but that play leaves five blots when the opponent has a better board and is a little too wide open.

    8/5*, 6/5 leaves Red with an awkward distribution of checkers and they will be hard to put to work.

    23/22, 6/3 is too passive and although it might appeal to some it is a blunder.

    The correct play is 13/12*, 6/3, getting one of the checkers on the mid-point into play with good distribution. The other plays, other than 23/22, 6/3 , aren’t huge errors but it is always best to squeeze the most equity out of a position. I expect this position would generate a lot of argument in a chouette.

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  • 2018 - Position 115

    XGID=-bBbB-CaBB--cBA-Ab-e------:0:0:1:32:0:0:3:0:10

    Money Play. How should Red play 32?

    This is a very difficult position and there isn’t a huge difference between some of the plays. I rolled out 10 plays but that could easily have been 15.

    Hitting on the bar-point is wrong as it only gives White more timing for his already well-timed 1-3 back game. 16/11 and 14/9 are both reasonable and I wouldn’t argue against them in a chouette.

    XG takes a different approach. The key point on the board is Red’s 5-pt and so XG plays 16/14, 8/5!! The idea is to make the point if White doesn’t hit the slotted blot. Any hit also slows Red down which could well be helpful.

    Having seen the play, I quite like it but would I have the courage to play it? I honestly don’t know but once again XG has come up with an idea that I hadn’t even considered and therein lies the key learning point from the position.

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