Indoor: Backgammon

In the box playing Black was the Tempestuous Turk (TT). Minus 20 on the scoresheet and having a bad night, he finally thought his time had come when playing against The Doyen and myself. We had been doubled early and then got involved in a massive back-game. At the height of this game we had made our 1-, 2- and 3-points with an extra man on the 2-point, and our other 8 men were in or around TT's home board.

TT had borne off only two men (shown at the right in the diagram) when he left an early shot. We hit it, but with only a three point board and the rest of the men well spread, we had little chance of containing the man we had hit. Over the next five minutes, however, with a mixture of skill and luck we gradually built up our board, hitting TT's man each time it looked like escaping. In the position above we had just slotted our 4-point and TT had fanned once again. We redoubled.

With an imperious wave of his cigar TT snatched the cube. We rolled 62, covering the blot and easily won the game. Was it a take? The answer is fairly clearly no. The blot on the 4-point is covered by 27 rolls. TT, with only two men off would be lucky to win the race more than 8 per cent of the time. If we fail to cover, TT will hit the exposed blot 30 per cent of the time. Thus of the 9 times we fail to cover he will hit 3 times and even some of his hits (41 and 42) force him to expose another blot. He should have let this one go.

This was a case of emotion interfering with rational thinking. After the turnaround that had taken place TT's cube-handling was based purely on not wanting to give up a game that had been previously "won". Mistakes like this are commonplace. They are also very expensive, so remember: keep your emotions in check.