Backgammon

In Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Ents were tree-like creatures who took an age to decide on anything. One of their number, Quickbeam, was atypical of his race, forever wanting to rush into things without considering the consequences. Quickbeam would have been a lousy backgammon player, for haste is not an asset at the backgammon board. Treebeard, his mentor and an Ent of the old school, would have been a much better player who wouldn't have made the same mistake as the team in the position above.

On White's last move, while Black, the box, had languished on the bar there had been a long discussion on how to play a 4. The merits of 10/6, 14/10 (the move chosen) and 20/16 had been discussed (argued?) for some five minutes. With the team still not in agreement the captain moved 14/10 and picked up the dice. Black rolled 32, playing bar/23, 8/5*. Cries of anguish all around from the team. The captain rolled 64, staying on the bar, leaving the position in the diagram. The box, grinning widely, redoubled to 4. The team, apparently all distant relatives of Quickbeam, passed immediately, and the next game was started.

Treebeard would have turned in his grave (or the Entish equivalent). Admittedly if Black rolls 53 or 63 or even something like 32 and then rolls a 5 or a 6 next roll, White will be struggling to save the gammon. But there are lots of other rolls on the dice, for example 66 leaves 13 shots for White on the next roll. Even if White ends up playing a 2-point game it will be well timed, with considerable winning chances. Given all the different ways that the team had of winning the game, it is clear that they should have accepted the redouble. So remember: in backgammon, a little less Quickbeam, a little more Treebeard.

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