Brays Learning Curve: Gammons Count Double

2018 - Intermediates 10

Money Play. How should Red play 31?   XGID=-BBCBBBb—–B—–ababdc-:1:-1:1:31:0:0:3:0:10 Over the board Red played 5/4, 5/2 but that was a mistake. Red must take advantage of the weakness in White’s home board while it exists. He should note that the race is close, although White has some home board wastage. By next turn White may […]

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Brays Learning Curve: Flexible Game Plans

2018 - Experts 7

Match Play. Red trails 4-5 to 17. How should Red play 54? XGID=baaaBBBbBB-aABA–b-c-Ab—:0:0:1:11:4:4:0:5:10 This position occurred in the first match of the final of the recent Cyprus tournament. Red was Aurelien Bonnet and White was Frank Stepler. Bonnet played the ‘obvious’ 13/9, 7/2 but that move is a blunder. Why is that the case? It […]

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Brays Learning Curve: Multiplicity

2018 - Intermediates 7

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=aB-BBCBA——-c–bccCc—:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 This position is deceptive, and I have included it because it is a type of position that many players consistently get wrong. At first glance you might question White’s ability to take but despite the fact that Red is a big favourite to cover […]

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Brays Learning Curve: Risk and Reward

2018 - Beginners 7

Money Play. How should Red play 61? XGID=-aB-CCC-B—bB—–cbcb-b-:1:-1:1:61:0:0:3:0:10 Red stands well in this position but has not yet won the game. The question is whether he should play this 61 relatively safely with something like 8/2, 5/4 or whether he should play boldly with 13/7, 8/7. With the cube in the middle you can win […]

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Brays Learning Curve: DMP Problem

2018 - Experts 6

Match Play. Double Match point. How should Red play 11?   XGID=baaaBBBbBB-aABA–b-c-Ab—:0:0:1:11:4:4:0:5:10 Firstly, this is DMP so Red wants to make the move that wins the most games. Gammons are irrelevant. Secondly, double aces normally give you a very wide range of choices and this position is no exception. I rolled out ten moves in […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Bray’s Law

2018 - Intermediates 6

Match Play. Double Match Point. How should Red play 43?   XGID=-BCBBBB—–b——–gBcc-:0:0:1:43:4:4:0:5:10 This position occurred in a London League match this week and provides a classic demonstration of Bray’s Law. That law states that when hoping to hit a late shot to win a game you should only break up your home board  upon pain […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Basic Blitz

2018 - Beginners 6

  Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=aB-Ba-C-A—dEa–c-e—-B-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 White opened with 32 which was played, 24/21, 13/11. Red rolled 55 which he played 8/3(2), 6/1(2)*. White then fanned and Red has to decide whether to double. Before the bots came along everybody knew that if you opened 6x which was played 24/18, […]

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Complex Endgame

2018 - Experts 5

Match Play. Red trails 2-5 to 7. How should Red play 21? XGID=-aCC-A——a——-a-ddd-:1:-1:1:12:2:5:0:7:10 This position occurred at the recent Cyprus tournament. Red played the rather dull and prosaic 5/2. After playing his 21, Red will have either six or seven crossovers left to bear off his remaining checkers. White will have to make six crossovers […]

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Brays Learning Curve: Offence or Defence

2018 - Intermediates 5

Money Play. How should Red play 32?   XGID=-b—-EBB—eD—b-db—B-:0:0:1:32:0:0:3:0:10 Red has opened with 61 (13/7, 8/7) and White has replied with 31, making his 5-pt. How should Red now play his 32? The most common plays that I see are 24/21, 13/11 and 24/22, 13/10 but they are both incorrect. Worse than these two plays […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Late Hit

2018 - Beginners 5

Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take?   XGID=aBBBBBE—————-de-:1:1:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 This type of position occurs frequently – White was happily bearing off and looking forward to two points (or even a freak gammon) when he left a shot and got hit. Therefore, it is best to know how to handle the cube in […]

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Brays Learning Curve: Three on the Bar

Experts 4

  Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?   XGID=cA–BbC-B–BbB—–dAb-Bb-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10   Three checkers on the bar is normally a recipe for a swift drop, a resetting of the board and the starting of a new the game. This week’s position is relatively unusual and if you have seen nothing like it before […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Priorities

2018 - Intermediates 4

Money Play.   How should Red play 22? XGID=—–bE-CAA-cC–bc-e—-B-:0:0:1:22:0:0:3:0:10 Over the board Red chose 24/22(2), 13/9. Was he correct?  Sadly for him, he was a long way from the best move. Not moving the back checkers at all is a huge error so they must at least advance 24/22(2). After that, if they remain there, […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Third Move Thoughts

2018 - Beginners 4

Money Play. How should Red play 62? XGID=-a—-E-D—fD—c-e–A-A-:0:0:1:62:0:0:3:0:10 There are 15 possible opening rolls. Many of these can be played in different ways. In response each of the possible 21 numbers can also be played in a number of different ways. There are approximately 600 opening rolls and responses. Most players will get the majority […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Deep Thought

2018 - Experts 3

Money Play. How should Red play 42? XGID=–bBbbCBCB-Ba—–abbab–A:0:0:1:42:0:0:3:0:10 Before the advent of the bots this roll would have been played bar/21*, 8/6 and nobody would have known that they were making a big error. The early bots such as TD-Gammon and JellyFish were not trusted to play back games correctly and so their recommendations would […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve – Volatility

2018 - Intermediate 3

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=-B-BBaCCB-A———-bbcg-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 This is a type of position that I often see misjudged. What normally happens is that Red rolls something like 63 which is played 10/4, 8/5*, White fans and then Red wins a point by doubling White out. Red has committed the cardinal sin […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: War Games

2018 - Experts 2

Money Play. How should Red play 65? XGID=–BB-bBCA—bB—c-bcbCa–:0:0:1:65:0:0:3:0:10 Never forget that backgammon is a representation of war, as indeed are most of the older board games. Thinking in terms of war can often help you to arrive at the right decision with difficult plays. Faced with this 65 to play over the board, Red elected […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve – Match Play Doubling

2018 - Intermediate 2

Match Play. Red trails 8-9 to 11. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=-a-B-aDAB—cD–ad-e—-B-:0:0:1:00:8:9:0:11:10 For years match play doubling was little understood. Witness this quote from Georges Mabardi in 1930, four years after doubling was introduced into backgammon: “If two absolutely perfect players engaged in a match, there would never be an accepted […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: One Back versus Two

2018 - Beginners 2

Money Play. How should Red play 32? XGID=-aa–BD-B—dF–ab-d-b–A-:0:0:1:32:0:0:3:0:10 This is a type of position that I often see misplayed and not only by beginners! Red has done well to escape a rear checker and has also made his own 5-pt. Meanwhile White has made his 4-pt and split his rear checkers. What is Red’s game […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Match Play Complexity

Bray’s Learning Curve Match Play Complexity 8-21-18

(a) Money Play. How should Red play 32? (b) Match Play. Red leads 7-2 to 11. How should Red play 32? XGID=–BaB-BBCa–dC—–b-bcbA-:0:0:1:32:7:2:0:11:10 The most common error that I see in backgammon is players not adjusting their play to the score and consistently making money-game decisions, both in checker play and cube handling, in match play […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: An Anchor Question

8-13-18 Intermediate Position

Money Play. How should Red play 65? 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 […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Game Dilemma

CB problembd 1

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 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 […]

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