Backgammon

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The Independent Culture
THIS POSITION is a problem taken from Millard Hopper's 1941 book Win at Backgammon. For most of the problems in the book Millard's suggestions are surprisingly accurate given how much the theory of the game has progressed over the intervening 50 years.

Here, though, he misses the plot by recommending black should play 8/2. This is a move that does nothing to address the requirements of the position and just puts a man out of play.

Black should be looking to improve his home board position by making his bar-point or his 4-point. Behind in the race he should not be looking to run one of his back men unless of course he should roll 33, 66 or possibly 65.

This 42 could be played (a) 8/4, 8/6 (b) 13/9, 8/6 or (c) 13/7. (a) and (c) both aggressively slot key points whilst (b) creates builders to make the points but leaves two blots rather than one. Of the slotting plays (c) is the stronger as there will be two numbers (1's and 6's) to cover next roll if white doesn't hit and it duplicates the 6's white needs to make his own bar-point.

From an equity point of view (b) and (c) are very similar. The key difference and one that we have seen before is that (c) leads to positions where black can offer a double much more efficiently than (b) because he can double with the threat of making a good point. With (a) he normally has to make the point before he can double.

Readers wishing to comment on the above position can reach me at brayc@globalnet.co.uk

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