• 2017 - Position 228


    Money Play. How should Red play 11?



  • 2107 - Position 227


    Money Play. How should Red play 64?

    For those who have read “Opening Concepts” by Michihito Kageyama and Roland Herrera this is a simple problem as it is what they call a “Double Tiger” play which is putting two checkers on the bar but also leaving two home board blots.

    21/15, 7/3* is better than 13/3* as it frees a checker from behind White’s four-point prime. 7/1, 5/1 is completely the wrong idea, reducing Red’s winning chances by 7% and his gammons by 3.5%,

    The whole idea of “Double Tiger” has really developed since the advent of the bots – prior to the mid-19902 such plays were really seen.



  • Backgammon Adages

    There are many backgammon adages that are useful when playing the game. A small sample would be: “when in doubt, hit’; “when ahead in the race, race”; “two on the bar, better by far’; “four is more than you think” and so on.

    One that I often hear repeated is “if you can make the 5-pt, do so and think later”. In the main this adage provides sound advice as the 5-pt is such a crucial asset to have. In this week’s position Black was delighted to see double ones tumble out of his cup. He swiftly played bar/24(2), 6/5(2)* - he had obviously had the adage in the back of his mind.

    The problem with backgammon adages is that they are merely guides, they are not rules to be blindly obeyed. In most complex middle game positions there are often conflicting priorities but expert players can determine the order of those priorities and therefore make the correct play more often than not – that is why they are expert players.

    Black should have taken longer to make his decision. He has a more pressing need than making his 5-pt. With four checkers on White’s ace-point he needs to release some of them as soon as possible. Moreover, White has two blots that can and should be attacked post-haste.

    Black should have noted one of the adages quoted above, viz: “two on the bar, better by far”. Remembering that would have led him to bar/24(2), 13/12*, 6/5*. If White doesn’t roll a five or double ones Black will have a vital tempo to roll either a four or a six, releasing one of his own back checkers and putting another White checker on the bar.

    Making the 5-pt here is actually a double blunder. Black’s main priorities must be the release of his rear checkers and the destruction of White’s potential prime. Backgammon adages are very useful tools and often extremely helpful but they must be tempered by the specific demands of the position. Here Black moved far too quickly without thinking about his game plan and White’s immediate threats. He was guilty of playing backgammon on automatic – one of the game’s cardinal sins.

    He was made to pay when White rolled 21, played bar/24, 7/5. In this case the backgammon Gods administered suitable punishment for Black’s very poor play.



  • 2017 - Position 226


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

    This is a huge double because Red will hit with any 4 or 6 plus 11, 55 and 52 and if White doesn’t roll a good number in response he will lose a lot of gammons. In fact, 50% of Red’s wins will be gammons.

    White does have a take and it would be a bad error to pass. However, not doubling as Red is worse than a triple blunder.



  • 2017 - Position 225


    Money Play. How should Red play 11?

    Given the chance to make a full prime I have found it is nearly always correct to do so and this position is no exception. Bar/22, 2/1 is correct by a long way, every other move being a blunder or worse.

    Bar/22, 2/1 plays to the basic strategy of prime against prime – come to the edge of your opponent’s prime and make your own prime. After bar22, 23/22 any 1 by White is very dangerous for Red.


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