Backgammon

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I was happily playing a quick game against Jellyfish the other evening. For once I had the better of the silicon coelenterate and was on my way to a gammon. I rolled 6-3, quickly played 8/5, 6/off and was stunned when it beeped to tell me there was a better move!

"What do you mean, a better move?", I enquired.

"Quite so, my dear chap", it replied. "Have you considered the advantages of playing 8/2*, 5/2?"

"How can I consider the advantages of a move I haven't even seen?".

"As a mortal you have, as is usual with your species, played the first move that entered your head."

"I am doing my best to make sure that I always consider at least two moves on any play," I replied somewhat huffily. "In this case, I didn't see the play because it didn't fit my model of the game. Leaving a shot for no purpose - how can that possibly be right?"

"The advantages become apparent with a little thought. As you are not blessed with a neural net for a brain, I suppose I must explain. Most important, I will never be able to make your 2-point. With your move I will gain a lot of equity whenever I manage to anchor on your 2-point and win quite a few games by hitting a late shot. Secondly, I will have four men on the bar as opposed to three with your play, and consequently you will win more backgammons."

"But what if you throw a five?".

"You humans would fear your own shadows. You will have one man to bring in against a four-point board while I still have to enter three men against a five-point board: you are still a massive favourite".

"OK, I'm convinced - I made a mistake."

"Indeed you did, now how about another few games at, shall we say, pounds 50 per point?"

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