Games: Backgammon

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The Independent Online
White, the box, had just rolled 61, and moved a man from his mid- point to his six-point. The team captain, normally the meekest of men, playing Black, took a brief look at the position and promptly doubled. His three team-mates, somewhat intimidated, doubled with him. Black accompanied his double with the comment: "Not much to think about here - come on let's get on with the next game." White, though, did find something to think about, and after a minute's study, accepted the cubes. Five rolls later he offered a redouble which all four players had to drop. But whose assessment of the original position was correct?

Black's position certainly has plus points. He has 14 good rolls, all ones plus 65 (which hit) and 66. Three rolls make a full prime: 22, 44 and 55, though two of these leave White a shot at a blot on the mid-point. The remaining 19 rolls do little to enhance Black's position. His five- prime, while effective, will be difficult to extend to a full prime. The worst feature of Black's position is that he has two men trapped behind a five-prime, and should he release one of those men, White will be waiting to pounce on the straggler.

White, while he is not at the edge of Black's prime, has only one man behind it, and his spare men are well positioned to attack Black when he gets the opportunity. Having one man back as opposed to your opponent's two is normally a strong advantage and this position is no exception.

The fact that Black has a shot makes him a marginal favourite, but he is not strong enough to double the original position. He should hit first and double later. If he doesn't hit he will be glad he did not double. The team captain should have taken longer to evaluate the initial position and his team-mates should not have allowed themselves to be misled. In a chouette, always think for yourself.