Miscellany: Backgammon

THE FIRST week of February and already an entrant for this year's "Hard Luck" award. The Ancient Woodpusher (AW) was playing a few friendly games against the Doyen (TD) when this position arose.

White is on roll. Should he double? The answer is a resounding no. White is not even the favourite in this position. If he doubles black should beaver (turn the cube to 4 and keep it on his side of the board). Even if white escapes one of his back men from black's home board and black stays on the bar he still won't have a double. However, TD did double and AW took, but didn't beaver.

TD's next two rolls were 65 played 24/18, 23/18 and 66 played 18/6(2). AW continued to stay on the bar ad infinitum. Eventually he just managed to save the backgammon! AW of course had seen it all before - after all, not for nothing is part of his soubriquet "Ancient" - and he proceeded quietly on with the next game. Not for him the low-flying dice cup or the manic gesticulations of the Tempestuous Turk. He phlegmatically accepted what the fates had dealt him, and just got on with it.

The lesson to be learnt from this sorry tale is that you must remember that the only important game is the next one. By all means learn from the game that has just been completed, but don't dwell on it unnecessarily.

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