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MEANWHILE, back at the menagerie... with apologies to the late Victor Mollo:

We join the game with the team, for whom PP was the captain, arguing over the play of a 62. "It's obvious," said BB (Barry Bigplay) "we must play 8/2, 6/4*"

"Good heavens, you cannot be serious," said PP (the Prophylactic Pole, who seems to have some McEnroe in his lineage). "That would mean leaving three blots against a four-point board. We must play 21/13 and hope for the best."

TT (the Tempestuous Turk) had said nothing up till now, which was in itself unusual. Now, however, he entered the fray. Pausing only to knock the ash off his cigar, he began to gesticulate wildly, all the while performing a pip count with a method known only to himself. "You're right PP, the hit is too dangerous. We must play 21/13."

"Are you fellows men or mice?" enquired the disbelieving BB.

"In your parlance we must be mice, eh, TT?" said PP, promptly moving 21/13 and picking up his dice. TT grinned and lit a fresh cigar.

EE (the Enigmatic Englishman) who was in the box, had listened to the team's analysis with amusement. It had been obvious to him from the start that the hit was clearly the best play. If White fails to enter, the team will win with an immediate redouble and entering without hitting still leaves the initiative with Black. Only when White hits from the bar can he be truly happy. The old backgammon adage: "when in doubt, hit" should be applied to this position.

But EE is aptly named. "Well played PP, absolutely the right move," he was heard to say as he prepared to roll.