Backgammon

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The Independent Culture
WE LEFT our game last week with White (Frank Frigo) to play 22 in the position above. Despite the attractions of making the 4-pt, White should not leave a blot on his 5-pt. Thus three of the 2s should be played 11/9/7/5. The final 2 is best played 23/21, seeking to establish a good anchor in Black's board. Frigo, however, chose 13/11.

Black (Peter Thomsen) rolled 62 and played 13/5. While this may look nice and leave no blots, it does nothing to improve his position. He should try 24/16. Although this leaves White a lot of shots he will not always hit and if Black can escape a man he will have significantly improved his position.

White rolled 42 and made his 4-point with 8/4, 6/4. Black rolled 62 again and now correctly ran out with 24/16. The problem is that this time White's board is that much stronger and a hit that much more dangerous. White rolled 64 and played 24/18, 13/9*. Note that he could have played 11/5 with the 6 but that is the wrong idea. White wants to use that man to make the bar-point if possible. Also, when advancing a man from your opponent's home board, it is usually less risky when he is on the bar.

Black now rolled 55 and stayed on the bar. Frigo promptly doubled and Thomsen just as quickly passed. This is an excellent early game double. White has the better board and one of Black's men on the bar. He has a variety of winning game plans. Black, despite having made his own 5-point, must pass this one. The risk of losing a gammon is high and he has no real threats of his own.

Even in this seven move game there were a lot of difficult playing decisions. It is the ability to make the right choice consistently in these early and middle game positions which separates the great players from the merely good ones.

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