Backgammon

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Pressure Play

A second position from the BIBA tournament in Brighton. In this position black has a slight edge because he has escaped both back men to his opponent's bar-point and he has one of white's men trapped behind a partial prime. He is also on roll.

Ideally he would like a roll that could be used to attack white's rearmost man or one that lets him bring down his two men safely from his mid-point. Unfortunately he has a 21 to play. He could play 8/6, 8/7 but that lets white escape with any 6 next turn. Alternatively he could maintain the status quo by playing 6/3 although the third man on the 3-pt would look out of place.

Over the board my opponent (I was white) played 6/3 and I was extremely pleased. He had overlooked the move I really didn't want him to find 7/5, 6/5. Admittedly this leaves white a direct shot at the man on black's bar-point but even a hit leaves white a long way from winning.

Conversely if white doesn't roll a 5 he cannot accept a double from black next roll so in effect white has to roll a 5 just to stay alive and he will only do that 30 per cent of the time. The other 70 per cent black wins the game immediately.

There's an old maxim in backgammon that you should try to find the move your opponent doesn't want you to play as that exerts the maximum pressure on him. I was mightily relieved to see my opponent move 6/3 especially as (a) I didn't roll a 5 next go and (b) I went on to win the game.

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