Games: Backgammon

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The Independent Online
Here's a position that confronted Murray "Quickdouble" Sharp at the Double Fives the other night. Murray, playing Black, had not only doubled early but had also accepted the redouble when all around him in the chouette had very sensibly passed. In his own inimitable style he had turned the game round to reach the position above. Should he redouble to 8?

The position is highly volatile and could change dramatically over the next two rolls. If Murray enters with any 6, White will be all but lost. Conversely, if he stays on the bar and White rolls a 6 then all the pressure will be on Murray. Most people have a natural fear of doubling from the bar against a 5-point board but Quickdouble is not of this ilk, and he redoubled with hardly a moment's thought. His opponent took; Quickdouble rolled 63 and comfortably won the game. The question is: were the double and take correct?

The answer is that this is an excellent benchmark position. Black should double and White should take. If White were any weaker, for example if he had only a 4-point, or if he had a blot exposed on his 6-point, then he should drop.

How do you evaluate this over the board? Black should note that if he rolls a 6, or he stays on the bar and then White doesn't roll a 6, he will become a prohibitive favourite, so now is the time to double. White should note that if Black doesn't roll a 6 and White does roll a 6, then he will have a very strong position. As this will happen nearly 25 per cent of the time, this gives him enough chances to take.

The final point to made is that success goes to players who are good at applying pressure. Quickdouble Sharp certainly did that in this position, applying exactly the right pressure at the right time.