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I RECENTLY had this position at the Double Fives. After my opponents had fanned (parlance for failing to enter from the bar), I doubled. All three opponents, fearing the loss of a gammon, passed, and we went on to the next game.

Let's analyse the position. There are three main variants:

l I have 20 rolls that make my three-point and, if white fans again, I have definitely lost my market as white will pass.

l If I make the three-point and white enters, what then? I still have to escape two men from behind white's four-point prime and at the same time contain the white man on my one-point. I'm still the favourite to win the game but not a big favourite.

l I have 16 rolls that fail to make my three-point. If that happens I could be in big trouble very quickly, especially if white hits my blot.

In all variations I must still extract those back from white's home board. One mistimed set of double threes or fours and I could self-destruct.

All in all there are not enough threats and too much could quickly go wrong to justify doubling this position. Should I have waited to make my three-point before doubling?

Absolutely not! I thought all three opponents would drop and I was right. Knowing your opponents is a vital element in backgammon, perhaps more important than calculating percentages.