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AS I left the Double Fives the other night Greek George had taken the black side of this proposition against Murray Quickdouble Sharp. Black has paid white a point to take the cube. Believing white should drop the double, black expects to make a profit. I watched five games with black winning every one, then left. Was GG lucky, or is the position a drop?

First, it is obvious that black has the advantage with two of white's men trapped behind a five-point prime and another white blot to attack. Black will win quite a few gammons. White's position is also a bit disjointed. On the down side black trails in the race by 15 pips and has a man on the bar.

These last two factors are important. Backgammon is essentially a race and you should always be aware of the race position when considering doubling. With a man on the bar 25 per cent of the time black will fail to enter on his next roll. Then white will have ones and twos to hit black's blot and sixes to escape a man from behind the five-prime. This would seem easily to give white his 25 per cent needed to take.

Finally, does black have any really crushing numbers next roll? 2 1, 4 1, 5 1 and 4 4 are all good but only 5 5 is devastating. Over the board I'd probably double because I think a lot of players would pass, but I would expect a top-class player to take.