• 2019 - Position 128

    XGID=ab-BBCBBA---bB---b-bbbb-A-:0:0:1:00:4:0:0:7:10

    Match Play. Red leads 4-0 to 7. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

    For money this is a huge double and a huge pass but the match score changes things dramatically.

    I was watching when Red doubled and White took very quickly. Of course White will be redoubling very swiftly if he gets an opportunity. In the game Red won a gammon and the match but were the cube actions correct?

    White was correct, it is a trivial take at this score. XG indicates no double by a very small margin – Red should play for an undoubled gammon.

    In practice I would always double this – you are going to get a lot of passes.

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  • 2019 - Position 127

    XGID=aBBBBeBBb---c-A-AA-d------:1:-1:1:41:0:0:3:0:10

    Money Play. How should Red play 41?

    All the plays are very close here, but minimising shots is useful.

    16/15, 14/10 is the best play by a narrow margin. Even if White rolls 55 he still has a huge amount of work to do to win the game.

    Over the board 16/11 was played but that was an error – just.

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  • 2019 - Position 126

    XGID=-a-CBABBC---b----d-cd-Ba--:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

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

    This is only just a double, and that is because of the need to activate gammons. Without that factor Red should hold on to the cube. As it is White has a very easy take of Red’s double. Dropping would be quintuple blunder.

    Note that 33 and 53 don’t give Red a full prime and Red still has to clear his rear checkers. It is only the gammon threat that makes this a double and even then it close.

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  • 2019 - Position 125

    XGID=--CCaCB-BB------a--bbccc--:0:0:1:53:4:4:0:5:10

    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.

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  • 2019 - Position 124

    XGID=-aC----b-a---a---abcbb---A:0:0:1:00:2:1:0:5:10

    Match Play. Red leads 2-1 to 5. Should Red double. If doubled, should White take?

    This position occurred in a London League match earlier this year. Red doubled, White took and went on to win the game.

    For money this a perfectly correct double and a very clear take. A quarter of Red’s wins are gammons.

    At this match score it is a very different story. White won’t need much excuse to redouble to 4 and put the match on the line. Once the cube is on 4 gammons become irrelevant for both players. Even with the cube on 2 Red will have overage if he wins a gammon.

    The end result is that this is a nontuple (nine times) blunder. Red gives up 0.720 equity points by doubling. That is one of the biggest errors I have seen in live play this or any other year.

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