White was incensed and challenged black to play it as a prop. Black readily agreed and off they went to play out the position 30 times. White promptly lost 20 points and demanded another 30 games. This time he lost 25 points. The following evening he played it again and lost further funds.
Was he unlucky, as he claimed? Jellyfish, our silicon friend, on first look has this position as a borderline take. However, on performing rollouts, both JF and Snowie (the new computer program) make this position a drop.
The rule of thumb for this type of position is that if black has 11 or more pips of play- ability (he can move some of his men 11 pips without breaking his home board), then white should drop. Here, black has 14 spare pips and white has a loose blot, both factors that should lead white to drop.
If white does play props such as this one, he must know exactly when to redouble in order to be able to maximise his equity. Here, he should redouble either when black leaves him a direct shot from the bar, or when black has only four points left in his home board.
A final reminder: do not play props where there is a high risk of gammon losses on your side unless you are absolutely sure of winning the game.
The above position doesn't qualify - unless you take the black side!
A reminder that the anthology of the best of these `Independent' articles along with other backgammon writings, `Backgammon: An Independent View', is available from Chris Bray, c/o 18 Glendower Road, London SW14 8NY, priced at pounds 11.99 + pounds 1.25 p&pReuse content