Backgammon

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The Independent Culture
IN THE box playing black was Barry Bigplay (BB). Captaining the team was the Prophylactic Pole (PP). His team members were the Tempestuous Turk (TT) and the Enigmatic Englishman (EE).

The team had just rolled a 61 to languish on the bar, and with but a few moments' thought BB decided to double the team. PP, never comfortable when having to play against a blitz, quickly passed, and resumed his perusal of the morning paper. EE pondered quietly whilst TT, as is his wont, talked to himself incessantly and lit one of his longest cigars. Eventually he spoke: "Well, what say you, EE?"

"I think I'd rather be playing black," said EE. "We have a man on the bar, another under threat to a double shot and no home board points. We are behind in the race, albeit not by much. Nearly all of black's numbers play well. In addition, black has our 5-point so it will be very difficult to attack him even if his own attack should fail. All in all, even if this is a take it is no bargain."

"But if our second man is hit we may be able to anchor in BB's home board," ventured TT.

"The key word in your sentence, TT, is `may'. Certainly it is a possibility, but long hours of study with our silicon friends have taught me that our human perception of blitzes has been a little off the mark. The attacking side is normally better off than you might think. I pass."

"Good words, EE, but I still take", said TT.

Four minutes later - and four points lighter - an unhappy TT could be heard muttering further imprecations, while puffing away furiously on his cigar.

Later analysis showed EE's over-the-board assessment to be correct. White loses too many gammons and cannot create enough of his own winning chances to enable him to take this double.

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