• 2018 - Position 161

    XGID=-CCDa-B-B--A-a------cbbbd-:0:0:1:00:3:2:0:5:10

    Match Play. Red leads 3-2 to 5. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

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  • 2018 - Position 160

    XGID=a-aCB-BABB---Aa--b-c-cbbB-:1:1:1:00:0:1:0:7:10

    Match Play. Red trails 0-1 to 7. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take?

    For money this is only just a redouble.

    However, once again the match dominates the cube decision. White will lose a gammon, and the match, nearly 30% of the time from here and that, coupled with the fact that he gets little value from holding the cube is too high a price to pay.

    Taking is an error, but not quite a blunder.

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  • The Gambler

    In Kenny Roger’s famous song “The Gambler” he repeats the line “know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em” which is the basic strategy for poker. The same strategy, in a slightly different way, also applies to backgammon.

    There are times when you have to recognise that you are in a losing position and that the best course of action is to limit those losses. This normally involves just losing a single game rather than a gammon or a backgammon.

    In this week’s position Black elected to play 23/22, 6/4(2)*, 3/2. On a freak day White might enter immediately and then roll a couple of big doubles to crack his prime and let Black win by going forward. However, in the real world it is Black whose board will disintegrate and then he may end up with more checkers sent back , no chances to win the game and a gammon loss a high probability.

    At the moment he has only four checkers behind White’s prime which gives him very real chances of saving the gammon if he can avoid more checkers being sent back. The best play is 23/22, 6/5(3), largely giving up on winning but only losing a gammon 22% of the time. With the move actually chosen he increases his gammon losses to around 33% while actually decreasing his winning chances (from 7% to 6%).

    It always hard to wave the white flag, particularly in a game famous for its last-minute turnarounds, but Black must do precisely that in this position.

    Now let’s suppose this position occurred at Double Match Point. In this scenario the cube is irrelevant and gammons do not count. Black can now employ a very different strategy as his only concern is winning the game. The best play to achieve that aim is 6/4*, 3/1, with the objective of obtaining a playable back game. With this move Black’s winning chances rise to 10%. His 43% gammon losses are, luckily, of no consequence.

    So remember to follow the wise words of The Gambler: “know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ’em.”

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  • 2018 - Position 159

    XGID=abBB--DBA-A-cA-A-b-c-bbA--:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

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

    White has anchor and other than the blot on the bar no other weaknesses.

    Red meanwhile has five blots but crucially he is roll and threatening to make another home board point. He will win a gammon about a quarter of the time from this position.

    Those gammons and the volatility of the position are just sufficient to give him a double, but it is very close. White has a trivially easy take – dropping would be a quadruple blunder.

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  • 2018 - Position 158

    XGID=a--BBBD-A-A-bB-b-bccb---A-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

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

    It looks scary for White and he could easily lose a gammon, but his broken prime is a strong asset and it gives him enough chances to take. In fact, the take is fairly comfortable.

    Red leads in the race but if he cannot escape his rear checker he will run into trouble. Meanwhile White still has two points to enter unless Red rolls a very good number.

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