Backgammon

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The Independent Culture
ONE OF the best features of Kit Woolsey's online backgammon magazine GammOnLine is a match between Kit and the readers. It proceeds at the rate of one move each per day, with Kit commenting on the plays.

This is a tremendous way to improve your game, as it really gives you the time to study each move in a way that you cannot do over the board. You can use computers to help you in your analysis, if you wish. The readers vote on the possible options, with the majority choice becoming the selected move.

This position is from the first game of the current match. The readers had two real choices with their 31: a) 24/23, 16/13; and b)13/10, 11/10.

My instinctive thought was to choose a). It safeties a loose blot and prepares to escape the last man. The advantage of b) is that it creates a broken five-point prime, but the disadvantage is that it leaves a blot. The fact that Kit had four men behind this prime is a major factor in choosing between the two moves.

It's very difficult quickly to balance the pros and cons of the two plays, and over the board I am sure I would have played a). The voting on this move was very close, showing the difficulty of the decision; but b) won by a narrow margin and thus it was the move eventually played.

Later computer analysis showed this to be the right play by a small margin, and demonstrates the quality of Kit's readership.

GammOnLine is found at www.gammonline.com

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