• 2018 - Position 101


    Money Play. How should Red play 52?


    1 comment

  • A Lesson from The Drones

    “Confound it, Jeeves,” I remarked, as I returned home from another late-night session at The Drones. “Yet again, I have had to swell Oofy Prosser’s already considerably swollen bank account.” For those who don’t know him Oofy is the club millionaire and has the stuff in sackfuls.

    “The man just does not know how to lose and manages to escape from completely lost positions time and again. Would you like to see an example?”

    “That would be most gratifying, sir,” replied London’s premier manservant.

    I rapidly set up the board as shown above. “I had this simple 52 to play and quickly chose bar/20, 12/10, making the golden point and minimising shots, the logical play I think you will agree. Oofy rolled 21 which he played 24/23, 17/15*. I stayed on the bar by rolling double 1 and as usual Bertram went on to lose a gammon. I think you can agree, Jeeves, that I was deucedly unlucky?”

    “I would like to agree with you, sir, but sadly I think we must add this position to the list that you have entitled Bertram’s Bloomers.”

    “Good Lord, Jeeves. How so?” I enquired.

    “Firstly, if you enter on the 20-pt with the 5 then the 2 should be played 7/5, taking the sting out of White’s rolls of 21 and 11. A small but crucial detail that I think you must have overlooked. However, the bigger mistake was to enter on the 20-pt at all. The correct play with your 52 is bar/23, 20/15.”

    “I have to say I did not even consider that move, surely making the golden point is clear and obvious?”

    “Ordinarily it is something to be desired but there are exceptions to every rule and this position is one of them.”

    “Kindly explain why, my good man”.

    “Certainly, sir. You are behind in the race, which is an indicator that the 23-pt would be a better point than the 20-pt to hold. White has very little spare time and if you leave a blot on White’s 2-pt it can be attacked when White rolls large numbers. It is much better for Black if those large numbers have to be played awkwardly, which may well be the case if you hold the 2-pt anchor. The other key factor is that you want spare checkers in the outer boards to attack White’s blot(s) and to possibly complete a full prime by making your 8-pt.”

    “You must eat an awful lot of fish, Jeeves, to power that great brain of yours and to be able to generate all these ideas. I must admit, this analysis has both astonished and educated me.”

    “My pleasure, sir. I will just add this position to the list.”

    “And then please bring me a large whisky and soda to provide me with some solace.”

    Note: My thanks to Edward Onny for showing me this position.



  • 2018 - Position 100


    Money Play. How should Red play 51?

    8/7/2 is way too passive, despite’s White’s strong board. With a close race, allowing White to run with 4’s and 6’s is far too meek.

    The other factor is the gammon percentage. When Red hits and White fans, Red’s gammon percentage increases significantly. 8/3*, 2/1 is very clear here. Even 8/3*/2 (with no direct covers for the blot) is better than 8/7/2.

    As I have mentioned countless times before, aggression is a necessary attribute of any strong backgammon player! Your cup should always be half-full, not half-empty.



  • 2018 - Position 99


    Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take?

    This position demonstrates once again the power of the broken prime. If White’s checker on the bar enters on Red’s ace-point he could very soon be in trouble and his position could unravel.

    Because of this White loses a gammon a whopping 26% of the time and it this makes the position a huge redouble. It is a blunder not to redouble.

    On the other hand , Red still has four rear checkers to extricate and he could have trouble doing that, particularly the ones on White’s 2-pt. This is enough to give White a take, although it is quite close.

    It is interesting that the redouble is predicated more upon White rolling badly than Red rolling well, which is usually the case.



  • 2018 - Position 98


    Match Play. Red trails 2-6 (Crawford). How should Red play 51?

    For money, with Red holding the cube, the correct ace would be 24/23, reducing the percentage of gammons lost.

    At Crawford, gammons are irrelevant and Red needs to maximise contact and therefore his winning chances, and so he must keep the ace-point anchor. 23/18 helps to preserve his timing and after that 6/5 looks to be the logical way to play the ace.



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