Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Game Decision

2019 - Beginners 21

Money Play. How should Red play 62? XGID=-b–B-D-B—dE—c-ca–bB-:0:0:1:62:0:0:3:0:10 It is early in the game and Red has an awkward 62 to play. It can be played (a) 24/16 (b) 13/11, 13/7 or (c) 13/5. 24/16 gets a rear checker moving but there is no duplication of numbers in the move and it puts no pressure […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: 3-pt Holding Game

Basic Begiiners 11

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? As part of one’s library of reference positions you should know the basic doubling rules for all the different types of anchor games. Of these the most difficult is the 3-pt holding game. There is a saying that all 3-pt anchor games are doubles and […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: A Doubling Question

2019 - Experts 20

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=–ACCBB——Aa–c-bB-Acf-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 Red has seventeen numbers that hit White’s blot. Normally that is not enough to warrant a double but is that the case here? If Red hits he will nearly certainly lose his market. The position is highly volatile. When he hits Red will definitely […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: One Checker Back

2019 - Intermediates 20

Money Play. How should Red play 53? XGID=–a-BCB—A-bBb-Cc-dc-B—:1:1:1:53:0:0:3:0:10 One of backgammon’s more useful adages is this: “Prime an anchor, attack a lone rear checker.” That instruction has stood the test of time and I have applied it countless times in my backgammon career. It should be clear that this week’s position cries out for an […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: 3-pt Holding Game

2019 - Beginners 20

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=–CbBBC-B–A——beB-bbb-:0:0:1:00:0:0:1:0:10  There is well-known saying in backgammon that all 3-pt holding games are takes. This is not quite true, but it is an excellent guiding principle. Normally the player of the 3-pt holding game has both racing and hitting chances and is rarely primed to […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Strategy

Basic Begiiners 10

Money Play. How should Red play 63? XGID=-b–B-D-B—cE—c-e–b-B-:0:0:1:63:0:0:3:0:10 Red started the game by rolling 42, making his 4-pt. White responded with 55, making his 3-pt. How should Red now play 63? I frequently see this type of position misplayed. White’s 55 has given him a lead in the race but a slightly overextended structure. The […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Triple Shot

2019 - Experts 19

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?  Match Play. 0-1 to 3. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=-BBB–CA—-A—-aBacbcBe-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 This position came up at a tournament at the Hurlingham Club. I was White and had just rolled a very unfortunate 61, played 14/8, 6/5. My opponent enthusiastically doubled, no doubt […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Time for a Plan

2019 - Intermediates 19

Money Play. How should Red play 41? XGID=–aB–DCB—bB—bde-B-a–:0:0:1:41:0:0:3:0:10  Just making moves is never a good idea. You should always have a game plan. That plan is subject to change according to the vagaries of the dice, but any plan is better than no plan. This is an apparently simple position and many would follow the […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Weighing Anchors 2

2019 - Beginners 19

Money Play. How should Red play 54? XGID=-B-B-CBbB—-B–bbbbBcaa–:0:0:1:54:0:0:3:0:10 Over the years I have learnt to be very circumspect about giving up anchors. The conditions have to be right to give up such a strong asset. However, there are times when giving up the anchor is correct. Let us look at this week’s position. Red has […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Extended Jeopardy

Basic Begiiners 9

Money Play. How should Red play 41? XGID=aBCCBBB———aa-bcbbba-:1:-1:1:41:0:0:3:0:10 What could be easier than a simple bear-off? However, while there is still contact, there will always be an opportunity to make an error. I have seen many players get this position wrong. Red has three choices: (a) 6/5, 6/2 (b) 5/4, 5/1 (c) 4/off, 4/3 Given […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Money vs Match

2019 - Experts 18

(a) Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? (b) Match Play. 0-0 to 7. Should Red redouble? If Redoubled, should White take? XGID=aBCBcCD——-a–bbbbbA—:1:1:1:00:0:0:0:7:10 Whenever you face a match play doubling problem you should first consider the correct actions for money to give yourself a base. In this week’s position I hope it […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Match Play Thoughts

2019 - Intermediates 18

Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take?  Match Play. 4-4 to 7. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take?  XGID=a-BBBBBA-A———-bccbC-:1:1:1:00:4:4:0:7:10 For money this would be a grossly premature redouble. White has already borne off four checkers so he would be close to a take even with his last checker closed out. […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Risk and Reward

2019 - Beginners 18

Money Play. How should Red play 33? XGID=-BbCBBB-B—dA-A-c-e-a—-:1:-1:1:33:0:0:3:0:10  Over the board Red quickly played 13/1. Sadly, this play doesn’t meet the demands of the position. Consider these factors: Red has already doubled and so must win with his play of the checkers. White’s position is virtually undeveloped. White will be loth to give up his […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Robertie’s Addition Method

Basic Begiiners 8

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=-C–B——————bd-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10  This is a basic technique for calculating that everybody needs to do. I believe it was first documented by Bill Robertie in his “Advanced Backgammon” and so it is known as Robertie’s Addition Method. This looks like a three-roll ending which is known to […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Prime versus Prime Part 2

2019 - Experts 17

Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? XGID=a-BBBBC—-A—–AAdbdbbA-:1:1:1:00:0:0:1:0:10  Once more we return to a Prime versus Prime problem. It is often said that all prime versus prime problems are doubles and takes. Is this the one that breaks that rule? No, it is not, but it is still possible to make some […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Sixes don’t grow on trees

2019 - Intermediates 17

Match Play. 2-2 to 7. How should Red play 63? XGID=a–BACBB—–Ba—bbbbcCb-:1:1:1:63:2:2:0:7:10:1 When you get the chance to make a five-point prime and your opponent is on the bar you normally take it. That is precisely what Red did here, playing 13/4. The problem was that he had three of his own checkers trapped behind a […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: PRaT

2019 - Beginners 17

Money Play. Should Red Double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=-aB-aBB-BAA-cB–ad-e—AB-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 Doubles in races and bear-offs can be learnt and there are formulae to assist with the decision making. The same is not true of the middle game which is far too complex for a set of rules to be doggedly applied. Most middle-game doubling […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve – Early Dilemma

Basic Begiiners 7

Money Play. How should Red play 31? XGID=-b—-E-CA–eD—c-c-b–AA:0:0:1:31:0:0:3:0:10 This early game position gives Red a dilemma. Should he take the safety of the ace-point anchor or not? A common error here is to play bar/24, 13/10, securing an anchor and then hoping to develop the home board. The problem with this play is that Red […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Prime versus Prime

2019 - Experts 16

Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? XGID=a-BBBBC—-A—–AAdbdbbA-:1:1:1:00:0:0:1:0:10  There is a well-known backgammon saying that all Prime Versus prime Positions are doubles and takes. Could this be the one that breaks the rule? The position occurred in the Battersea chouette and when Red (the box) redoubled all the team members bar one […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Connectivity

2019 - Intermediates 16

Money Play. How should Red play 44? XGID=—-AbDBB—cC—bBcba-bA-:0:0:1:44:0:0:3:0:10 Always remember that backgammon is a representation of war. An essential element of warfare is communication, the soldiers need to be able to speak to each other. Bearing that idea in mind, how should Red play his double fours? Certainly not 18/10(2) which completely strands the rear […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: When in Doubt

2019 - Beginners 16

Money Play. How should Red play 42? XGID=—B–DbC—dC-a-Bbd–b-A-:0:0:1:42:0:0:3:0:10 The age-old saying in backgammon is, “when in doubt, hit”. This position is a classic demonstration of that principle. Over the board Red played the very passive 8/4, 6/4 but that leaves an equal position.  What will Red do next turn after the passive play. Having decided […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Simple Bear-Off

Basic Begiiners 6

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?  XGID=-DD——————–ec-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 When we learn about doubling in backgammon we start with bear-off positions because we can calculate exactly each player’s winning chances and so we can be certain about the correct doubling positions. So we “know” that a pure (neither player can fail to take […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: More on Match Play Redoubles

2019 - Experts 15

Match Play. Red trails 0-2 to 7. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? XGID=–aCABBB—-AA—-c-Cc-dd-:1:1:1:00:0:2:0:7:10 This continues the theme from last week. When I first started playing backgammon match play doubling was still a very little researched and understood area of the game. With the advent of the bots things changed dramatically and modern […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Containment

2019 - Intermediates 15

  Match Play. Double Match Point. How should Red play 41? XGID=-BBBCB———–aBbcBccc-:0:0:1:41:6:6:0:7:10 This is a problem about containment. A whole book could be written on the topic but let’s start with this one position. Red has been lucky enough to roll a number where he can hit from either of his two anchors. The question […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Prat

2019 - Beginners 15

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=-a–BaCBC—eC—–e-b-Ba-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10  A classic middle game position. Red has the advantage, not least because he is on roll. Is he good enough to double? Can White accept a double? Leaning doubling reference positions is long and arduous and so we need  shortcut. That shortcut is PRaT […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Blitz Reference

Basic Begiiners 5

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=aa-B-BC-A–AdDa–c-e—-B-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 Other than end-game situations and races how do we learn when to double and whether or not to take an offered double? Backgammon is far too difficult a game to be able to evaluate doubling decisions over the board without prior knowledge of similar […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Take Care With Redoubles

2019 - Experts 14

 a) Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? b) Match Play. Red trails 5-6 to 11. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take?   XGID=aB–b-DDB—-Ba-a–bbcAb–:1:1:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 Whenever I face a match play cube decision I first try to create a benchmark by looking at the correct action for money. Here Red still […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Think Ahead

2019 - Intermediates 14

 Money Game. How should Red play 43? XGID=-a—aE-C–AdD—a-bAb-bbA:1:1:1:43:0:0:3:0:10 Red is in a lot of trouble in this position. He faces a strong blitz and the loss of gammon. His 3 is forced. He must play bar/22. The question is how to play the 4? Exposing a new blot with 8/4 (although that duplicates 3’s) or […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Pay me now, pay me later?

2019 - Beginners 14

Money Play. How should Red play 54? XGID=-BCbBaF-aB———bbbbc–:0:0:1:54:0:0:3:0:10 This looks like a classic ‘Pay me now, pay me later’ problem. Should Red play 9/5*, 9/4, leaving White 13 shots to win the game or should he wait with 6/2, 6/1? As it happens the two plays are very close with the ‘pay now’ play of […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Racing Formulae

Basic Begiiners 4

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?   XGID=–BBCCCB——–abbc-c-bb-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 Backgammon is at its simplest when the two armies have disengaged and the game becomes a simple race. Once that happens knowing how to use the doubling cube is much more important than moving the checkers. The most important thing to know in […]

[Read More...]