backgammon

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The Independent Online
A low-anchor game is characterised by one player holding his opponent's one-, two- or three-point while the opponent has escaped his back checkers. The position right is the typical result. The strategies are clear. Black attempts to move his checkers into his home board, building as many points as he can, and then bear them off with as little risk as possible. If he succeeds, then he'll quite often win a gammon.

White, meanwhile, will try to build a strong home board to contain any black checker that he hits - it is very rare for White to win without hitting a shot. One difficult decision that White often has to make is when to stay back in Black's home board to try to hit a shot, and when to make a run for home to try and save the gammon. If his home board is crashed, that is most of his checkers have ended up on his own one-, two- and three- points, then saving the gammon is normally the only option. Sometimes, White has the choice of which low anchor to hold. Holding the one-point generates more winning chances but loses more gammons than holding the two-point.

Doubling strategy can be complex but there are some basic rules. In all positions where the defending side has a low-anchor game on the one-, or two-point and the attacking side owns the remaining points in his own home board, the attacker should double and the defender should pass. It's sometimes correct for the attacking side to play on for an undoubled gammon rather than double his opponent out. In the position shown, Black will win a single game one third of the time, win a gammon one third of the time, and lose the rest. If the low anchor is the three-point, then the race can become a consideration and the attacking side needs a normal racing edge (10 per cent) to consider doubling. But if he's built a five- prime in front of the opponent's checkers on his three-point (that is he owns his four- through eight-points), then he has a double which the defender must pass.

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