• 2019 - Position 164


    Money Play. How should Red play 22?

    This is not a simple problem.

    It is to easy to play 16/10, 11/9 without too much thought.

    The correct tactic is to hinder White’s rear checkers as much as possible and not give them an easy ride home. The sentinel on the 16-pt must stay there. After that 11/9, 10/8(2), 6/4 looks clear.

    However, the tactic is to hinder as much as possible. XG easily finds 11/9, 6/2, 4/2 but I would wager few human players would find that play over the board. In XG terms 11/9, 10/8(2), 6/4 is nearly a blunder. It is truly merciless in its analysis.

    Once you see 11/9, 6/2, 4/2 it benefits are clear – the problem is seeing the play in the first place!



  • 2019 - Position 163


    Match Play. 2-2 to 7. How should Red play 22?

    After either 16/12, 13/9 or 16/12, 13/11, 8/6 followed by a fan from White Red will redouble and White must pass.

    Now the interesting bit. For money 16/12, 13/11, 8/6 is correct. However, at this score losing a gammon is very bad for Red as he will be 2-6 (Crawford) down. 16/12, 13/9 reduces the gammon risk because there is no direct shot and no double hits. That is enough to swing the vote to 16/12, 13/9 and to have the slotting play classified as an error.

    In addition, 16/12, 13/9 followed by a fan not all Whites will pass the redouble while after the slotting play followed by a fan nobody will be taking. Always give your opponent a chance to make a mistake!

    Over the board I slotted and only learnt all of the above after post-match analysis. I may have said this before, but backgammon certainly is not an easy game!



  • 2019 - Position 162


    Money Play. How should Red play 65?

    Logic says that the extra two shots after 12/7, 12/6 must be worth it because:

    • Red clears the more difficult point

    • White has two home board blots

    • If White misses the shot it will be much easier to tidy up the blot than after 8/3, 8/2.

    The rollouts confirm this with 8/3, 8/2 being classified as a blunder.



  • 2019 - Position 161


    Match Play. 5-5 to 7. How should Red play 21?

    I got pinged by XG for playing 24/23, 13/11 here.

    For money that is the correct play but at this match score this play is an error. This will be the last game of the match and Red should play the natural but more aggressive 13/11, 6/5, retaining his ace-point anchor for the time being. As it will be the last game of the match gammons and the cube won’t be relevant after White doubles next turn. Therefore the slotting play becomes correct.

    This one surprised me but I learnt something by studying the rollouts.



  • 2019 - Positioin 160


    Match Play. Red trail 0-3 to 7. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

    The match score doesn’t change the fundamentals of the position.

    White already has five checkers off and until that last checker is at least primed Red won’t have a double and White will still have a take. So, the position is not yet volatile.

    Red is in the doubling window but not close enough to the top of that window to warrant a double here. Perhaps surprisingly White will win a gammon 7.5% of the time from here as Red still has a lot of work to do to bring the position home.

    No double and easy take. For money it would be a blunder to double this position.


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