Bray’s Learning Curve: Make them work

Basic Beginners 38

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 51? XGID=-a–B-C-D–AbC—cbeb-B—:0:0:1:51:0:0:3:0:10   Red is losing this game and needs to take action to turn things round. He cannot play passively in this position so we can quickly discount the safe 13/8, 11/10. His plan must be to contain White’s last rear checker. While making the 5-pt is good […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Complexity Plus

2022 - Experts 47

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 51? XGID=aBaBBBC-A————-AaAA:1:-1:1:51:0:0:2:0:10 Normally when you study the XG analysis of a position you quickly understand where you have gone wrong. When an exception occurs it often provides some very useful education. This week’s position occurred late in a lesson. My pupil played bar/20, 24/23*, which looks obvious. We were […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Stripped Point Syndrome

2022 - Intermediates 47

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 43? XGID=–b-BBE-b—-C—-bdABbab-:0:0:1:43:0:0:3:0:10 This position came up in a lesson. My student wanted to play 21/17, 20/17. His reasoning was that it maintained connectivity between Red’s checkers at low risk. That move is a very bad blunder. Let’s understand why. Red trails in the race and 21/17, 20/17 is a […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Maintain Communications

2022 - Beginners 47

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 65?   XGID=-aAB–D-C-a-aa–bc-dABbAA-:0:0:1:65:0:0:3:0:10 The keys to this position are determining the correct game plan and maintaining communications. In the initial position Red’s army is split in two and, as both Napoleon and Hitler found out, you cannot successfully fight a war on two fronts. Red desperately needs checkers in […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Tempo

Basic Beginners 37

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 54? XGID=-aa—E-D—bD—d-e–A-bA:0:0:1:54:0:0:3:0:10 I set this as a problem because I got it wrong over the board by playing bar/20/16. That play is not a massive error, but it does allow White to play her full roll next turn and, because there is no duplication most of her numbers will […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: UBC 2021

2021 - Experts 46

(a) Match Play. Red trails 1-4 to 7. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? (b) Unlimited Games. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=-aaBBBBB—-cA-b-bAcba–BA:0:0:1:00:1:4:0:7:10   This position is taken from the Ultimate Backgammon Championship 2021 Final between “Mochy” Mochizukiand Dirk Schiemann. If you want nearly twelve hours of brilliant free backgammon […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Make them work

2021 - Intermediates 46

Match Play. 0-0 to 7. How should Red play 43? XGID=-AbDbBC-BA—B-a-abbbba—:0:0:1:11:0:0:3:0:10 One of the key things in backgammon is to make the checkers work for a living. You only have fifteen soldiers in your army, and you can’t afford for any of them to be idle. Red’s spare checker on his 21-pt is doing nothing […]

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Bray’s Learning curve: Safety the blot?

2021 - Beginners 46

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 61? Play for the close out with 13/6 or head for home with 21/15, 4/3? 13/6 will win a higher percentage of gammons but lose more games. Remember that for every extra lost game you need to win two more gammons to compensate. You will see from the rollout […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Pick the right game plan

Basic Beginners 36

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 31? XGID=-a—BDCB—bB-b-c-eb–AA-:0:0:1:31:0:0:3:0:10 This is a type of position that beginners often get wrong. They decide they need to escape the rear checkers and so play 24/21, 6/5. The correct game plan is to blitz or prime White’s remaining rear checker. To do that Red does not want to be […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Intricate Endgame

2021 - Experts 45

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 31?   XGID=-BBbBBA-B—a–B——A-A-:1:1:1:31:0:0:3:0:10  The key for Red to winning this game is to separate the three white checkers. If White is allowed to hold Red’s 3-pt for any length of time she will significantly increase her winning chances. Therefore, Red wants to force White off her anchor as soon […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Flexibility

2021 - Intermediates 45

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 11? XGID=-AbDbBC-BA—B-a-abbbba—:0:0:1:11:0:0:3:0:10 Over the board the natural looking 9/7, 8/7(2) was played but this turned out to be a blunder. Red’s position is good but not great. Those four checkers on his 3-pt are badly placed, significantly reducing his flexibility. White’s board is strong enough that Red cannot afford […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Up or back

2021 - Beginners 45

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 41? XGID=—-bBE-D–A-B–ccbe—–A:0:0:1:41:0:0:3:0:10 The key question is whether Red should stay back or try to escape. The race is close but, if Red stays back, he puts no pressure on White to perform and he still has the problem of how he will escape from White’s home board. Thus, we […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Which hit?

Basic Beginners 35

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 64? XGID=——EaC-aA-C—dbeAB–b-:1:1:1:64:0:0:3:0:10 Red can gain ground in the race with 20/10* but that play leaves a lot of return shots. Are the shots worth the potential gain? The answer is no. The simple 13/7*, 11/7 makes a solid long-term asset and leaves no blots on Red’s side of the […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Last checker premium

2021 - Experts 44

Match Play. Red trails 0-1 to 11. How should Red play 32? XGID=—-a-D-Cb—C—-AAcCbeb-:1:1:1:32:0:1:0:11:10 It might seem clear here to play 19/16, 18/16 to block White’s sixes from her 16-pt. That is certainly the obvious move, and it is what was played over the board. However, if you have read Bill Robertie’s latest book “Everything Matters” […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Short-term Risk

2021 - Intermediates 44

Match play. Red leads 2-1 to 5. How should Red play 52? XGID=a–aaBCAC—AC-A—bccAbb-:1:1:1:52:2:1:0:5:10 This is a question of taking a short-term risk to establish a long-term again. Red could play 22/17, 7/5 with apparent safety but how will he bring all those outfield checkers home? The answer to that question is – with extreme difficulty […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: The Guff

2021 - Beginners 44

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 55? XGID=—b-BC-C-AAdCa–c-e—-B-:0:0:1:55:0:0:3:0:10 Back in the 1970s nobody made their ace-point, known as ‘the guff’, and if you did you were laughed at. Such a play was regarded as impure. Nowadays we know better. The ace-point can be a useful asset. In this position Red will shortly have to get […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Follow the Basics

Basic Beginners 34

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 21? XGID=—-a-EbC—dE–Ac-e—-A-:0:0:1:21:2:3:0:9:10 You cannot play successful backgammon without continually taking balanced risks. This week’s position is a classic example. Over the board Red made the ‘safe’ play of 16/13. True it is safe for one roll but the key question to ask yourself is ‘what next?’ Red’s game plan […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Triple Whopper

2021 - Experts 43

Match Play. 6-6 to 9. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=–bBB-C-C—cB—bceB—A-:0:0:1:00:6:6:0:9:10 I posted this position to demonstrate what pressure can do to even good players. This is from the World Team Championships in Trier a couple of weeks ago. Red had recovered from 0-6 down and now at 3-away vs. 3-away he […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Which Point?

2021 - Intermediates 43

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 31? XGID=–B-a-C-B—eCa–c-e-AAAB-:0:0:1:31:0:0:3:0:10 This is a very common type of problem. Which point or points should Red make in White’s home board? Red’s own home board is very weak, and he needs time to construct something more useful. This game has a long way to go. Red can make the […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Safety First

2021 - Beginners 43

  Unlimited Games. How should Red play 52? XGID=-b—-E-D–AdCa—-dbb-AA-:1:1:1:52:0:0:3:0:10 Safety First Red has been doubled and is in trouble. White owns ‘the rack’ (her 4-pt, 5-pt and 6-pt) which is very powerful. Red cannot afford to play loosely and leave blots lying around. He would like to make a decent anchor and the only one […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Asset vs Race

Basic Beginners 33

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 32? XGID=-a—AD-C-a-dE-a-c-eA—A-:0:0:1:32:0:0:2:0:10 This is a common opening problem. Should Red hit, if so where, or should he take the asset of the 5-pt? Let’s deal with the hit question first as that is quite clear. If hitting he should play 20/15*. This gains the most ground in the race […]

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Bray’s learning Curve: Complex Back Game

2021 - Experts 42

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 43?   XGID=-a-aBBC-CBA-b–a–bbbbb-B-:0:0:1:41:0:2:0:5:10   Back games can be horrendously difficult and this one certainly isn’t easy. White has more than enough timing and he will hoping to release his checkers on Red’s 5-pt and then play a well-timed 1-3 or 2-3 back (the latter is better). With so many […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: The case of the missing 6-pt

2021 - Intermediates 42

Unlimited Games. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=–BCBB-a—B-AA—-abBcdd-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 This is a very deceptive position and many a player of the White checkers would drop this double, seeing no hope of getting her checkers home and fearing a gammon. After all, Red only misses with 55 and 53. However, If Red hits the […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Checker Development

2021 - Beginners 42

  Unlimited Games. How should Red play 21?   XGID=–a—EaB–AdD-a-c-e—-BA:0:0:1:21:0:0:3:0:10 When in doubt, hit is a well-known backgammon maxim. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and this is one of them. Bar/23, 8/7* achieves very little while at the same time substantially weakening Red’s position. Red is behind in the race and this […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Counter-prime

Basic Beginners 32

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 62? XGID=—bBBD-C—-B-aacbd-b-B–:0:0:1:62:0:0:3:0:10 This is all about understanding Red’s game plan. White’s plan is simple, she will attempt to make her 5-pt next time and she is nearly a favourite to do that. Red must assume that White will make her 5-pt and plan accordingly. That means he should set […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Deep Thought

2021 - Experts 41

Match Play. Red trails 2-4 to 5. How should Red play 44? XGID=-aAABBBB-A——-bbcBcbbB-:1:-1:1:44:2:4:0:5:10 This is a complex problem. The key is to determine the correct game plan and then find moves that support that plan. Trailing by 36 pips after the roll means that Red cannot give up his ace-point anchor as that surrenders a […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Outer Board Control

2021 - Beginners 41

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 64? XGID=—–bE-B–B-C—ddeB-A—:0:0:1:64:0:0:3:0:10   Red trails by twenty-nine pips after the roll but has superb control of the outer boards. Meanwhile thirteen of White’s checkers are in stacks on only three points. The key to this position is for Red to keep that outer board control. For that reason a […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Simple Connectivity

Basic Beginners 31

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 52? XGID=-a—-E-C–AfD—c-e-A–A-:0:0:1:52:0:0:3:0:10 A classic second move problem. How should Red play this 52? The two is very clear 13/11, making an important outer board point. The question is how to play the five. There are three choices: 6/1*, 21/16 and 13/8. 6/1* usefully takes a tempo from White but […]

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Brays’ Learning Curve: Security and Asset

2021 - Experts 40

Match Play. Red trails 4-6 to 11. How should Red play 22?   XGID=–ABaBCACa—-A-ac-c-ac-bB:0:0:1:22:4:6:0:11:10  Over the board Red chose the very safe bar/21(2)*. Given the score and the number of White blots this was much too passive. Red has the opportunity to secure an anchor with Bar/22(2) and then think about the other two twos.There […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Patience is a virtue

2021 - Intermediates 40

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 61? XGID=—–ACABA—B-AcabebbBB–:0:0:1:61:0:0:0:7:10 Red is playing a perfectly timed 2-3 back game. Unexpectedly White has left him an early shot. Should Red hit that shot or should he bide his time? It is tempting to hit with 23/17*, 6/5. The problem with that move is that Red only has eight […]

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