Miscellany: Backgammon

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The Independent Culture
STRANGE POSITIONS sometimes demand strange plays. When I had this position a few weeks ago, I was annoyed not to be able to hit white and quickly played 16/10, 4/3. White ran out with 65 and the game was soon over.

My play was dreadful and I deserved to lose. What should my plan have been? Firstly I should not have given up coverage of the outer boards. I should have played 24/18, 16/15. If white rolls a number with a 6 in it, I will have at least a single shot at him. If he doesn't, then I can attack him on my 1-point next roll.

But could I really not hit white? What about the odd looking play 24/18, 2/1*? Now white stays on the bar on 16 of his rolls and I have lots of builders in place to rebuild my board. Four of white's rolls (14, 41, 24, 42) leave three blots and four more rolls (13, 31, 23, 32) are nearly as bad. Only six rolls (16, 61, 26, 62, 25, 52) are really any good for him. If he does manage to escape, my coverage of the outer boards is still good.

It's difficult to find plays like this and weigh them against the merits of the more prosaic 24/18, 16/15. In this particular case, the equity difference is small but 24/18, 2/1* is slightly the better play. The really important thing is make sure that you consider all the candidate plays.

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