2019 - Position 125
By Chris Bray, Jul 10 2019 10:24AM
Match Play. Double Match Point. How should Red play 53?
I had this position against Anthony Wilson, the captain of Hurlingham, playing his last match before retiring from the game for medical reasons.
After some thought I played 8/5, 8/3. Anthony rolled 66 and easily won the game and the match. Did I make the right play?
Yes, I did. Many years ago I had lessons with Paul Magriel and his rule of thumb was that you needed to be 17 pips after the roll in order not to hit. This was in the pre-bot era and it turns out Paul was wrong.
There are lots of factors involved in making decisions in positions like this, too many to detail in a short blog. However, by changing the position around we can edge towards a solution. Move the spare checkers on Red’s 3-pt and 2-pt to give Red his 1-pt and give Red a roll of 32 then the hitting play is just correct.
Change the roll in the original position to 32 then 8/6, 8/5 is correct because 13 shots rather than 11 is too many. So leaving 11 shots is correct when you have approximayely an 11 pip lead after the roll.
More work required but that is a good starting benchmark.
I like 9/4*,9/6 - The race is close, and white is not a favourite to hit back, possibly giving red a bigger edge than in a straight race.
Time and time again, I have been amazed by how often it is correct to hit loose against a nearly closed board if my opponent has decent racing chances. The fact that White cannot win the game with the cube makes it even more correct in this position, in my opinion.
8/3, 8/5. When ahead in the race, race. There are exceptions with a five point board, where you need to be about 15 pips ahead to play safe. 13 hits instead of 11 may sound little, but it takes away 5,5% of the possible gain.