• 2019 - Position 43

    XGID=-bbCc-D-A---bEa-Bb-c------:0:0:1:33:0:0:3:0:10

    Money Play. How should Red play 33?

    It is too early to give up the 15-pt, this game has a long way to go.

    There are three reasonable plays: 13/7(2), 13/10(3), 8/5 and 13/10(2), 13/7 (did you even consider that play?)

    XG initially flagged my play of 13/7(2) as an error but on a long rollout it changes its opinion and 13/7(2) comes out first albeit by the tiniest margin ahead of 13/10(2), 13/7. 13/10(3), 8/5 trying to make the key 5-pt is third but is not even an error.

    This is the type of play decision that only a computer is likely to get completely right but whichever of the three moves you chose you would be fine. Only if you decided to give up the 15-pt would you be in error/blunder territory. Red needs that point as a link point for any checkers that get hit and recirculated and there will be a lot of hitting before this game is finished.

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  • 2019 - Position 42

    XGID=--dECCC-b-------A--cbbb---:1:-1:1:52:0:0:3:0:10

    Money Play. How should Red play 52?

    After a run of quite difficult problems this one is straightforward. Red is unlikely to get his rear checker home safely so he should go as far as he can now with 16/9. That leaves 13 shots, but he has plenty of chances even if he is hit and if not he is home free.

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  • 2019 - Position 41

    XGID=aBBBBaB----AcA---BbbbbbA--:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

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

    Clearly Red must double to activate his gammon threat. Not doubling is a triple blunder.

    The question is can White take? White has two main ways to win: Red never manages to escape his rear checker and his home board crashes; White anchors on Red’s 5-pt and wins from there. Note also that for the moment Red’s sixes are duplicated. If you move the checker on Red’s 11-pt to his 10-pt the position becomes a borderline drop/take.

    The second of these two options is White’s best chance. Although he loses a gammon 40% of the time White actually has a very comfortable take of Red’s double and dropping is a blunder. He wins the game 38% of the time.

    This was not an easy problem so don’t worry if you got it wrong but do learn from it. Next time you will get it right.

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  • 2019 - Position 40

    XGID=b--BA-C-B-ABbC-----cAbbbb-:1:1:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

    Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take?

    A very clear redouble but also, perhaps surprisingly, a very clear take.

    Red can’t blitz in the normal manner, meaning that he will have to make points purely rather than slotting and covering. This gives White opportunities to anchor and then win from there. White’s lead in the race is very relevant as if he anchors quickly then he will be threatening to win by throwing a well-timed big double.

    Dropping this is a blunder but the key is the learning point that White’s strong home board protects him against the pure blitz.

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  • 2019 - Position 39

    XGID=-a--BBC-B---bDAa--cdb-b-A-:0:0:1:43:0:0:3:0:10

    Money Play. How should Red play 43?

    This one is close. Red can play to prime White’s rear checker and the best play for that is 14/11, 13/9. 14/10, 13/10 is not bold enough.

    The alternative is to try to escape the rear checker with 24/17. The play duplicates twos and White may have to give up his mid-point to hit.

    This position is impossible to calculate over the board and most players would go with their gut feel. If you elected to run with 24/17 then you are in agreement with XG but only by 0.02 equity points and you wouldn’t be making a big error with 14/11, 13/9. Note that 14/10, 13/10 is a 1.5 blunder as it does not do enough to progress Red’s position.

    The key lesson is to at least have considered both plays.

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