Backgammon

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The Independent Culture
I HAD this position in a training game against Snowie. Black is on the bar and has a 31 to play. The 3 is obvious, hitting with bar/22*. How to play the 1?

There are two candidates. 13/12 playing quietly and 2/1* hitting white's other blot (23/22 is not viable). At the time I reasoned that the quiet play was correct. My plan was to escape my two back men, and I didn't want to worry about getting another man sent back if white rolled a 1. I lost the game quite quickly from this position, then analysed it.

I quickly realised my thinking had been flawed. What black needs here is the time to extricate his back men and put white under some pressure. Also, if white makes black's 1-point he will in the game until the end so black should be trying to prevent that happening. Even though there is no immediate direct cover number for the blot after 2/1* it is the right play. And if black does make his 1-point his gammon chances increase. All these considerations produce a significant equity difference between the two plays.

This sort of play is difficult to find, especially over the board. The risks can seem to outweigh the benefits, but once you have doubled you must play aggressively.

`Backgammon - An Independent View' by Chris Bray, and other books at High Stakes, 21 Great Ormond Street, London WC1N 3JB (0171-430 1021)

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