Bray’s Learning Curve: An Anchor Question

Money Play. How should Red play 65?

8-13-18 Intermediate Position

XGID=-B-BaCB-B—bB-c-c-d-Bb—:0:0:1:65:0:0:3:0:10

This sort of position often confuses even good players. Red was hoping to attack the White blot on his 4-pt but instead rolled this useless 65. How should he play it?

The instinctive reaction of the majority of my students when shown this position was to elect to hold the status quo with 8/3, 8/2. A few brave souls decided to risk a 3-shot and cleared the mid-point with 13/8, 13/7. This play has the merit of keeping those two checkers in play. About 10% chose the running play 21/10, exposing two blots. So which group was correct?

One of the things I stress to my students is that irrespective of how they conduct themselves in their day-to-day lives, when they play backgammon they have to be bold and fearless. That is easier said than done and it takes a long time to learn to adopt the correct persona over the backgammon board.

One of the best books for backgammon players was written 2,500 years ago! It is “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, a Chinese army general. Backgammon is fundamentally a representation of war and many of Sun Tzu’s maxims apply as well today as when they were first written and browsing some of the quotes from the book will help anybody’s backgammon game.

Back to the position. 8/3, 8/2 buries two checkers (soldiers away from the field of battle are of no use) and does not improve Red’s position. 13/8, 13/7 is better but now the rear checkers are really stranded (a divided army fights inefficiently).

Red must make the bold play 21/10. This play follows the principles of war by engaging in a skirmish while you have superior forces (a stronger home board) and also follows the basic tenet of backgammon, “when ahead in the race, race”.

White’s sixes are duplicated and unless he manages to point on the Red blot in White’s home board, Red will have lots of counter play, including remaking the 4-pt anchor in some variations. The play forces White into a fight when he is not quite ready.

The XG rollout shows just how weak the two ‘do nothing’ plays are. In XG terms they are both triple blunders, precisely the type of mistake none of us can afford to make.

21/10 looks risky and we are taught to only give up anchors after long thought but here it should be very clear it is the right play following the right game plan. If White rolls 66 so be it, you will just know it is not your day!

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

8-13-18 Intermediate Position-XG Rollout

Bray’s Learning Curve — A Great Member Benefit
Bray’s Learning Curve is a USBGF online series by author Chris Bray. Each week Chris lends his sharp insight and easy to understand analysis to help you improve your game. Visit the USBGF Facebook page every Monday to view an interesting backgammon position and join in the lively discussion, return on Tuesday to view the answer. In addition, as a USBGF member, you get access to this companion blog article that includes an expanded explanation.  More about Chris Bray

 

Watch the Paul Magriel Tribute Video

Please enjoy the Paul Magriel Memorial – Tribute to the Father of Modern Backgammon by Robert Wachtel

Robert Wachtel

Robert Wachtel

The video was produced and funded by the Paul Magriel Memorial Committee including members Blake Fleetwood, Perry Gartner, Phil Simborg, and Mike Svobodny. A list of contributors may be found on paulmagriel.net/tribute-contributors. PayPal donations may be made to the account Perry@Brennerintl.com. Robert Wachtel (pictured) wrote and narrated the script. Daniel Barre of Realist Films was the videographer, editor, and director.

The video was conceived for and used in a condensed version at the Paul Magriel Memorial Tribute on July 31, 2018, during the Backgammon World Championship in Monte Carlo. A complete film of the entire Monte Carlo tribute will be available for viewing in September.

Many thanks to all for this wonderful memorial of the father of modern backgammon!

 

 

 

Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Game Dilemma

Money Play. How should Red play 31? 

XGID=-a-a-BD-B—dE—d-e—-B-:0:0:1:31:0:0:3:0:10
CB problembd 1

For this first column I am going start at the beginning of the game. This position is reached after Red opens with 31: 8/5, 6/5 and White responds with 32 which he has correctly played 24/22, 13/10. If your opponent opens with 31 it is very often correct to split the rear checkers as soon as possible. Red now has to play another 31.

Newcomers to the game will quite likely play 13/10, 6/5, unstacking the two heavy points and getting a good distribution of checkers. Unfortunately, this move and the more aggressive 24/21, 6/5 are both bad blunders. In backgammon there are errors (a mistake but not a huge one) and blunders, which are very bad mistakes and to be avoided if at all possible.

In the opening we try to do three things: make new points, unstack the heavy points (the mid-point and the 6-pt) and get the rear checkers moving. There is a fourth possibility when replying to the opening move and subsequently and that is to hit an opposing checker and send it to the bar. If your opponent opens with 32, played 24/21, 13/11, and you respond with 64 I am sure you will hit 24/14*.

What beginners often do not realise, because they have yet to learn the tactic, is that a hit in the home board can often be the correct play. It may seem counter-intuitive to give your opponent a direct shot at a home-board blot because if it is hit you lose a lot of ground in the race. However, that is negative thinking which is to be avoided whenever possible in backgammon.

The key to hitting in the opening phase of the game is that it takes away half (or sometimes all) of your opponent’s next roll as he must first enter his hit checker from the bar. He might return hit one of your checkers but unless he rolls a double he won’t be making any new points in his home or outer boards (he might make an anchor in your home board).

In the opening taking tempo (time) from your opponent is very important. If he is busy dealing with your threats he won’t have time to develop his own threats.

The correct answer to this week’s problem is 24/23, 6/3*. This move activates the rear checkers, unstacks a heavy point and puts your opponent on the bar – not bad for one simple play! On four of your opponent’s rolls (66, 55, 65 and 56) you will be delighted with the outcome. He will return hit you with sixteen rolls but that’s no disaster as he has no home board. With double 1s he will play bar/23, 6/5(2). He misses with the other fifteen rolls after which you will have a good advantage.

An expert will play 24/23, 6/3* here without even thinking but as a beginner you have to understand the reasoning and then make the play. Once you have learnt the technique it will become second nature.

If you extend this concept you will understand why after your opponent opens with 52, played 24/22, 13/8, and you respond with 64, the correct play (although only just) is 13/3*. In summary, the opening is largely about tempo.

–Chris Bray

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

CB problem 1

USBGF Advanced Divisional XLI Winner

Congratulations to Mary Morse, winner of the USBGF Advanced Divisional XLI online tournament.

Mary defeated Tom Christner in the 17-point final match. Finishing 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final were PJ Macali and Manny Olszynko.

Mary.MorseThe Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

USBGF Masters Divisional LIV Winner

Congratulations to Ed Bauder, winner of the Masters Divisional LIV online tournament.

Ed defeated Jan Cerny in the 21-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Roberto Kenny Litzenberger and Karen Davis.

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USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXVIII Winner

Congratulations to Gary Oleson, winner of the USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXVIII online tournament.

Gary defeated Faramarz Hashemi in the 17-point final match. Finishing 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final were Ralf Priebe and Ray Cifani.

The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

GaryOleson

USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXIX Winner

Congratulations to Mary Morse, winner of the USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXIX online tournament.

Mary defeated Juan Jose Aguzzi in the 17-point final match. Finishing 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final were Long Nguyen and Matthew Brown.

Mary.MorseThe Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

USBGF Masters Divisional LIII Winner

Congratulations to Adam Prager, winner of the Masters Divisional LIII online tournament.
Adam defeated Edward Bauder in the 21-point final match.
Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Peter Wisniewski and Martin Zizka.
The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

adam-prager

USBGF Masters Divisional LII Winner

Congratulations to Kamil Karaali, winner of the Masters Divisional LII online tournament.

Kamil defeated Jack LeProwse in the 21-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were James Schothorst and Jerry Gette.

The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

Kamil Karaali

USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXVI Winner

Congratulations to Martin Filipi, winner of the USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXVI online tournament.

Martin defeated Patricia Johnson in the 17-point final match. Finishing 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final were Steve F. Kenney and Mario Savan.

Martin FilipiThe Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

USBGF Masters Divisional LI Winner

Congratulations to Andrey Nesterov, winner of the Masters Divisional LI online tournament.

Andrey defeated Edward Bauder in the 21-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Kamil Karaali and Pierre VIAU.

The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

Andrey Nesterov

USBGF Third Director’s Cup Winner

Congratulations to Ken Bame, winner of the Third USBGF Director’s Cup event.

Ken defeated Steve Sax in the 19-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the 17-point semi-final were Ray Bills and Joseph Russell.

The Director’s Cup was open to all USBGF Premium, Youth, and Basic members and had a 128 player field.

Ken Bame_sm

USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXVII Winner

Congratulations to Steven Waller, winner of the USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXVII online tournament.

Steven defeated Ralph Desimone in the 17-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final were Larry Brown and Martin Filipi.

The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

WallerSteven-2015

USBGF Masters Divisional L Match Winner

Congratulations to Steven Waller, winner of the Masters Divisional L online tournament.

Steven defeated Art Benjamin in the 21-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Jerry Gette and James Schothorst.

WallerSteven-2015The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

USBGF Masters Divisional XLIX Match Winner

Congratulations to Martin Zizka, winner of the Masters Divisional XLIX online tournament.

Martin defeated Edward Bauder in the 21-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Leonida Zaloutskaya and Toby Tabet.
The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

martin-zizka_2016

USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXV Winner

Congratulations to Martin Filipi, winner of the USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXV online tournament.

Martin defeated Kat Denison in the 17-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final were Ben Yam and David Alaghebandzadeh.

The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

Martin Filipi

USBGF Masters Divisional XLVIII Match Winner

Congratulations to Ted Chee, winner of the Masters Divisional XLVIII online tournament.

Ted defeated Bob Azari in the 21-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Martin Zizka and Ray Bills.

CheeTed 2-11-2015 (1)The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXIV Winner

Congratulations to James Allen, winner of the USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXIV online tournament.

James defeated Rafael Luis Palazzo in the 17-point final match. Finishing 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final were Long Nguyen and Rodolfo Urdiain.

The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

USBGF Masters Divisional XLV Match Winner

Congratulations to Jeb Horton, winner of the Masters Divisional XLV. Jeb defeated Igor Krivokon in the 21-point final match.
Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Adam Prager and Joseph Russell.
The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

jeb-horton_2016may_chicago

USBGF Masters Divisional XLVII Match Winner

Congratulations to Art Benjamin, winner of the Masters Divisional XLVII. Art defeated Karen Davis in the 21-point final match.
Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Chris Trencher and Jeb Horton.
The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

DSC02827

USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXIII Match Winner

Congratulations to Mary Morse, winner of the USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXIII online tournament.
Mary defeated John Antaki in the 17-point final match. Finishing 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final were Steven Waller and David Parks.
The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

Mary.Morse

USBGF Masters Divisional XLVI Winner

Congratulations to Kamil Karaali, winner of the Masters Divisional XLVI. Kamil defeated Andrew Selby in the 21-point final match.
Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Dmitriy Obukhov and Martin Zizka.
The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

Kamil Karaali

USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXII Winner

Congratulations to Carl Blumenstein, winner of the USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXII online tournament.
Carl defeated Genna Cowan in the 17-point final match. Finishing 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final were James Schothorst and Manny Olszynko.
The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

Carl Blumenstein

USBGF Advanced Divisional XXVII Winner

Congratulations to Patrick Domico, winner of the USBGF Advanced Divisional XXVII online tournament.
Patrick defeated Peggy Neubig in the 17-point final match. Finishing 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final were Jerry Nussbaum and Gary Oleson.
The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

Patrick Domico

USBGF Masters Divisional XLIII Winner

Congratulations to Karen Davis, winner of the Masters Divisional XLIII. Karen defeated Edward Bauder in the 21-point final match.
Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Cynthia Belonogoff and John Graas.
The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

Karen Davis, winner of July Online Circuit

USBGF Masters Divisional XLIV Winner

Congratulations to Richard Munitz, winner of the Masters Divisional XLIV. Richard defeated Martin Zizka in the 21-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Andrew Selby and Olga Ivanova.

The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

richMC-176x248

USBGF Advanced Divisional XXXI Winner

Congratulations to Don Marek, winner of the Advanced Divisional XXXI . Don defeated Martin Filipi in the 17-point final match. Finishing 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final were Peggy Neubig and James Allen. The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration.

DonMarek

USBGF Masters Divisional XLI Winner

Congratulations to Erwin Hom, winner of the Masters Divisional XLI.  Erwin defeated Mislav Kovačić in the 21-point final match.

Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Igor Erovenko and Kristijan Čuljat.

The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

ehom_headshot

USBGF Masters Divisional XLII Winner

Congratulations to Bill Riles, winner of the Masters Divisional XLII. Bill defeated Ken Bame in the 21-point final match. Finishing 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final were Jalil Khalili and John Graas. The Masters Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1650.00 or above at the time of registration.

Bill Riles

USBGF Advanced Divisional XXIX Winner

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jschothorst