This was Problem 2 in the Christmas quiz. Black on roll, should he double? Should White accept? This is a problem from two-time world champion Bill Robertie's excellent instructional book, Advanced Backgammon. Let us listen to his reasoning:

"This is a typical benchmark double in the opening. Black has three key ingredients for a strong double:

"A superior front position, with the 5-point already made. Black's game has both priming and attacking potential.

"A strong defensive anchor, guaranteeing that, should things go badly, he cannot be redoubled any time soon.

"Some immediate threats. All his doubles play well. Six rolls make the 3-point. Six rolls make the 4-point. Two rolls make the bar-point. Two rolls make the 1-point. The other 14 rolls which don't make a good point at least hit loose on the 3-point, putting two men in the air.

"Should White take when doubled? The answer is: no. The key here is White's two men out of play on his 2-point. Although White is quite likely to survive the immediate priming/blitzing threats and emerge with a defensive anchor, his game will then be stripped of playable men and quite unpromising."

So the quiz answer is double/drop. For those wanting to gain a real understanding of backgammon and improve their game significantly I recommend Advanced Backgammon. Its two-volume set covers both tactics and strategy. Details can be obtained from: Gammon Press, PO Box 294, Arlington MA 02174, USA, fax: 001-617-641-2660. A copy will go to our first prize winner, Raymond Kershaw (London NW6). Runners-up prizes of The Backgammon Handbook and Backgammon in a Week go to Paul van Mil (Lytham St Annes) and KR Gowers (Chester).

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