Backgammon

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The Independent Culture
THIS POSITION is from very early in the game. Black has a 21 to play and has two reasonable options. He can play 14/13, 24/22 with the plan of trying to escape his remaining back man as soon as possible. The alternative approach is to play aggressively with 14/13, 6/4*.

The first option is the gentle approach, hoping to win by stealth and intending to double once the last back man has escaped to safety. By then, white will probably have built an anchor and the game will move along relatively predictable lines.

The aggressive plan seeks to gain an early advantage, create a position of high volatility and quickly reach a point where the cube can be turned. In this variation, if white does not return hit from the bar, then black could quickly develop a very strong position.

Although the two moves are different, the equity difference between them is relatively small (Snowie gives a slight edge to the hitting play). The important thing is to recognise that both plans are viable and then select the one that best suits your style.

You should also note how well your opponent is likely to play both types of position before making your choice. I have always favoured aggression in the opening - I like to double as soon as I can, but I recognise that many may feel more comfortable with the quieter play.

The key is to have a plan and then to stick to it.

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