• 2018 - Position 138


    Match Play. 1-1 to 7. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?



  • 2018 - Position 137


    Match Play. Red leads 6-2 to 11. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

    This type of position is well-known to be a drop for money although many players mistakenly take on a regular basis.

    The match score obviously has an influence, the question is how much? The answer is that the score makes this a borderline take/pass decision. I would make my decision as White based on the strength of my opponent although note there isn’t a whole lot of skilful play left in the position.



  • Tribute to Paul Magriel

    A short tribute to the father of modern backgammon, Paul Magriel.


    Not quite the final version (a couple of typos) but very enjoyable.



  • World Championship 2018

    The 50th World Backgammon Championships took place in Monte Carlo last week. The event was advertised as the 43rd Championship but that is because the numbering system went awry some years ago. Bill Robertie proved conclusively in his article on the topic last year (see https://thegammonpress.com/world-backgammon-championship-1/) that 2018 would be the 50th Championship so I will use his numbering system now and in the future. What a shame that the most famous winner of them all, Paul Magriel (1978), passed away earlier this year and could not witness the landmark occasion.

    And what a landmark it turned out to be. In the history of the championship there have been four female World Champions: Carol Crawford (1973), Lee Genud (1981), Katie Scalamandre (2000) and Akiko Yazawa (2014). This year Akiko became the first woman ever to become a double World Champion. She remained unbeaten throughout the week in the double elimination event.

    In the final she played Philip Kazemieh from Germany. Philip is a relative newcomer to top-level backgammon and that showed in some of his play in the final. As Philip won the defeated bracket (defeating Lawrence Powell of the UK in the final of that part of the draw) he would have to win two matches against Akikio.

    The first match was to 19 points and Philip jumped out to an early 9-4 lead and looked set to force a decider. Sadly, for him from that point he would win only one more point as Akiko won the match 19-10.

    The key to the turnaround occurred in this week’s position. Akiko (Black) was on roll and correctly doubled. An expert would know this is a drop. Black leads in the race and White will rarely win when he hits a shot because his board has already cracked and it could get a lot worse before he gets a shot. It was a blunder to take.

    From here play continued: Black 64: 7/3, 7/1 White 21: 8/5 Black 61: 8/1 (leaving a blot). Great excitement ensued as Philip rolled 53 and hit playing, 21/18*,21/16. Akiko rolled 51 and fanned. Philip now rolled quickly a without considering a redouble. In fact, the position is a tiny drop but it is a double blunder not to redouble, you must give your opponent the chance to make an error!

    Play continued White 62: 18/12, 16/14 Black 62: bar/19, 3/1. We have reached the second position above with White on roll.

    Now Philip is a long way from a redouble although for money this would be a perfectly correct redouble but the match score meant he could not redouble. He rolled 53, played 14/9, 12/9. Now Akiko rolled 52 and made one of her few blunders in the match by electing to stay by playing 6/1, 5/3. She should run with 19/12 as she will only be 8 pips behind in the race. Philip now correctly redoubled to 4 and Akiko correctly took as she had both hitting and racing chances

    The excitement continued when Philip rolled 52, played 9/7, 9/4, leaving a blot. There was loud cheering when Akiko rolled double ones (19/18*/15) and Philip fanned. Akiko redoubled to 8 and of course, Philip had to pass. That made the score 8-9 and from there the momentum was all with Akiko. Philip compounded his problems at 14-10 behind when he doubled far too early in a complex back game and was punished when Akiko won a gammon to lead 18-10. The match ended in the next game.

    This passage of play demonstrates just how difficult match play backgammon can be. It also demonstrates how exciting it can be. The USBGF streamed the match and Falafel and friends provided the commentary which was enjoyed by thousands of people online across the world.

    Congratulations also to UK players Raj Jansari, for reaching the semi-finals of the undefeated bracket, Martin Barkwill, who was part of the three-man team that won the Team Championship, and of course to Lawrence Powell on his bronze medal for finishing third.



  • 2018- Position 136


    Match Play. Red leads 10-6 to 11 (post-Crawford). How should Red play 43?

    Red needs to distribute his attackers in case White enters. !4/10, 13/10, blocking 55 is the wrong idea as that ties up two checkers on a single point. Note that a single checker left on the 10-pt will give Red a return shot if White rolls 55.

    20/17, 14/10 is fractionally better than 20/16, 13/10 but the difference is minute.



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