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The Independent Culture
A JOKER in backgammon is a roll that dramatically turns the game in your favour. Quite often doubles turn out to be jokers. A roll such as 33 early in the game can often turn a reasonable position into a winning one.

The opposite of the joker is the anti-joker, the roll that destroys your game. We have all stayed on the bar for a couple of rolls against a one- or two-point board. This tends to happen early in the game and frequently leads to the opponent being able to double you out. Whilst annoying, this tends to lead to just the loss of a point. Real, soul-destroying anti- jokers come late in the game, often when the cube has reached a high level.

I well remember my own worst joker, anti-joker sequence. In the 1991 British Championships (held in the Isle of Man) I was playing in a chouette against four opponents at pounds 20 per point. In a helter-skelter game the cube had unusually risen to 8. I was looking at a comfortable win and possibly a gammon when my opponents (playing white) suddenly threw 55. They played Bar/20(2), 20/10 reaching the position above.

A joker of something like 44 for me would still have secured a gammon but no, I managed to roll the anti-joker from hell - 63. I had to play 8/2, 6/3 leaving a quadruple shot and had no choice but to drop their obvious redouble to 16. The potential financial swing on the game was pounds 1,920 - enough to make it stick in the memory.