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IN THE box sat the Enigmatic Englishman (EE). In the opposing team were Barry Bigplay (BB), the captain, and the Prophylactic Pole (PP). They discussed the play of black's 54.

"We're winning comfortably," said PP, "no need for any excitement. I think we should play 10/5, 9/5. Obviously we can't play 8/3*, 7/3 as that would leave four blots - far too dangerous."

"I must disagree," countered BB, "now is exactly the moment for a big play. Four blots there may be after 8/3*, 7/3 but EE would have only eight numbers to hit one of the blots, and even then we would get a lot of return shots. Look at the potential for the blots. Look at the potential for winning a gammon if EE fails to enter. I'm sorry, PP, but I must play 8/3*, 7/3."

"I haven't voluntarily left four blots since LL (Lord Lucan) stopped playing - but if you must, you must," said PP resignedly.

EE inwardly groaned. It was obvious to him that pointing was the correct play and the one he feared most. Sadly for him it was BB who was the captain and not PP. A few rolls later EE duly lost a gammon.

Later that evening he put the position into Snowie and discovered that 8/3*, 7/3 was correct by the huge margin of 3 per cent. In fact any hitting move was better than the pusillanimous 10/5, 9/5. That old backgammon adage: "To the aggressor the spoils" had been proven once again.