Backgammon

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The Independent Culture
I HAD seen in the New Year of 1999 with Holmes, his brother Mycroft and Inspector Lestrade at the Diogenes Club. After the traditional festivities had been completed we settled down to our first chouette of the year. The first couple of hours were unexciting, but at 4am we suddenly came to this position. I was in the box and after several swings of fortune I found myself having to decide what to do here. Should I double?

If I didn't roll a 6 fairly immediately I could see myself getting into real trouble. On the other hand, an early 6 and the team would be all but dead. A gammon with the cube on 16 would be worth +96 points, a loss would be -48 points. A swing of 144 points at a guinea per point is a lot of money to a simple GP. In the end I decided to wait a roll and promptly rolled 61 playing 23/16. The team entered one man with a 51 but I then doubled them out and was happy to net 24 points.

"Rather like the case of the dog in the night," said Holmes. "But the dog did nothing in the night," I said. "Exactly so," said Holmes, "and neither did you, my dear Watson, when in fact the position cried out for some action."

"Consider. The position is highly volatile as I think you rightly surmised. Think about the pressure that you would have put on your opponents by redoubling to 16. Although the position is technically a take, it is not a take by much. I am certain that Lestrade would have dropped. Mycroft and I would have taken, of course, but we certainly wouldn't have relished it."

"If you make only one resolution for '99, Watson, then it should be this: Always put maximum pressure on your opponents."

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