• 2019 - Position 89


    Match Play. Red trails 3-4 to 7. How should Red play 31?

    In a money game it would be close between 9/5 and 20/17, 9/8 but at this score gammons are hugely valuable to Red and he must put pressure on White’s checkers on his mid-point so he gets a direct shot on most sixes.

    Either 20/16, or 20/17, 9/8 is OK. 9/5 is too passive and nearly a blunder.



  • 2019 - Position 88


    Money Play. How should Red play 11?

    Red has to decide which back game to play.

    I think in my youth I would have been happy with a 1-4 or 2-4 back game but experience has taught me that back games with contiguous points play better and thus the 3-4 game is the right one to play here by moving bar/22, 23/22.

    Remember also, that the higher the points the fewer the gammons you lose and that is borne out by the rollouts here.

    Nearly any other move is a blunder. Bar/24, 23/22, 8/7(2) is the second best move but even that gives up 0.075 equity points. So remember, go for contiguous points.



  • 2019 - Position 87


    Money Play. How should Red play 52?

    This is close and for years I would play bar/20/18 in such positions believing it was better to be hit outside rather than inside.

    In fact bar/20, 6/4 is very marginally the better play. It starts the point you want to make most in White’s board and also usefully unstacks the heavy 6-pt. The combination of these factors is just sufficient to outweigh the problems Red gets into when White rolls one of his ten pointing numbers that make his 5-pt.

    Bar/20/18 is not an error but it is a small strategic mistake.



  • 2019 - Position 86


    Match Play. Red leads 3-2 to 7. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

    A classic volatile middle game position. White’s four blots invite a double which is perfectly correct and not doubling is a blunder.

    The take is very clear as White has so many ways to win the game from here, especially as Red is on the bar and fans 11% of the time. Passing this would be worse than a quadruple blunder.

    Interesting things happen when you play around with moving the checkers in Red’s home board. Give him his 5-pt and 4-pt instead of his 3-pt and 2-pt and the position becomes double and big pass at this score but double and an easy take for money.



  • 2019 - Position 85


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

    This type of position is deceptive. It is surprisingly difficult to bring Red’s checkers home safely and he normally leaves a fair number of indirect shots.

    It is a double and not to do so would be blunder. Equally well White has a very comfortable take and dropping would also be a blunder. Once you have seen a position like this you know what to do but I have seen many a player drop such doubles as White.



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