Bray’s Learning Curve: Back Game Dilemma

2020 - Experts 24

Money Play. How should Red play 61? XGID=aabBbBBBA–BbC–A–db-a—:1:-1:1:61:0:0:3:0:10 Back games are very difficult to play well. The bots have taught us much, but back games still account for the biggest checker play errors in backgammon, so we still have a long way to go to master them even reasonably well. Here White has a reasonably […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: A Doubling Problem

2020 - Intermediates 24

Match Play. Red leads 2-0 to 7. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=a–BB-B-Ba–dD—dAe-AA—:0:0:1:00:2:0:0:7:10  When looking at any match play problem you should first seek to determine what the correct action in a money game would be. Using PraT (Position, Race, Threat), this look to be a clear double. The race is equal […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early 55 Blitz

2020 - Beginners 24

Money Play. How should Red play 32? XGID=-b—-E-CA–eD—aAc–b-bA:0:0:1:32:2:0:0:7:10 Early double fives blitzes are very common in backgammon, so it is useful to know how to handle them. For those interested in learning the correct doubling strategies I recommend buying Kit Woolsey’s Backgammon Encyclopaedia Volume 1. Unfortunately, it is currently out of print so you will […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Aggression

Basic Beginners 14

Money Game. How should Red play 31 XGID=-a-a-BD-B—dE—d-e—-B-:0:0:1:31:0:0:3:0:10 Red has opened with 31 (8/5, 6/5) and White has split her rear checkers with her responding 52. How should Red now play 31? Beginners know it is good both to split the rear checkers and create builders for new points and so they choose either 24/21, […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Complex Double

2020 - Experts 23

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled should White take? XGID=aB-Ba-CB-a–cBb—-cBbaaAA:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10  White has five blots and a fan at the wrong moment could easily result in the loss of a gammon. Crucially White does not have an anchor. All of this indicates that Red should be doubling despite being on the bar himself. What about […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Containment Problem

2020 - Intermediates 23

Money Play. How should Red play 52? XGID=–aBBBBB—–AB-A—–A-h-:1:1:1:52:0:0:3:0:10 The bots have taught us a lot about containment. Before the early 1990s we really weren’t very good at containing hit checkers! Breaking primes to hit is seldom correct and that is the case here. With such superb outer board coverage Red should not hit with 7/2*. […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Bear-off Problem

2020 - Beginners 23

Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? XGID=-DA——————c-a–:1:1:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 When we study bear-off doubling we learn about ‘roll’ positions. A 3-roll vs 3-roll position with no misses is double/pass because the taking side has only just over 21% winning chances. We then learn to adjust for the actual position in front of us. […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Match Play Influence

Basic Beginners 13

 Money Play. How should Red play 42? Match Play. Red leads 1-0 to 3. How should Red play 42? Both players have opened with a 52, played 24/22, 13/8. How should Red now play 42? The choices are simple: (a) 24/20, 22/20 or (b) 8/4, 6/4. For money it is close but that extra checker […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Small Doubles

2020 - Experts 22

Money Play. How should Red play 11? XGID=-abaBBC-C–B-A—–bcdb-B-:1:-1:1:11:0:0:3:0:10 Note: For this and all future articles where the players are not specifically named Black will have a male persona and White will have a female persona. Small doubles nearly always generate a lot of possible move and hence are difficult to play. Add the complexity of […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: A Question of Strategy

2020 - Intermediates 22

Money Play. How should Red play 51? XGID=-aB–BDB-A–bBb—ccBbaa–:0:0:1:51:0:0:3:0:10 The two blots in White’s home board give Red the licence to make a bold play. The question is what is the right game plan? Red can attempt a blitz by hitting on the ace-point or play to prime White’s rear checker. For the blitz Red can […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Run or Prime

2019 - Beginners 22

Money Play. How should Red play 64? XGID=aB-BBBD-A—b—-bbccB-b–:1:-1:1:64:0:0:1:0:10 A simple question: do you close the home board or run out with one checker to avoid crashing with small numbers on subsequent rolls? After 8/2, 6/2 Red is a favourite, just, to roll a 5 or a 6 next turn and solve the problems of the […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Third Roll Conundrum

Basic Beginners 12

Money Play. How should Red play 64? XGID=-a—-EBBa–eD—c-e—-B-:0:0:1:64:0:0:1:0:10  This position arose last week in a consultation match between France and Rumania in the World Team Championships in Forges Les Eaux, France. Remarkably, the top five players in France managed to agree on the wrong play. You cannot learn all the correct third roll moves because […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: The Principle of Separation

2019 - Experts 21

Money Play. How should Red play 66? XGID=—cBBCBB—-B—–A-abbgA:1:-1:1:66:0:0:3:0:10 Whenever you roll a double it is always worth taking some extra time to think about how to play it as there will be multiple options. The double sixes in this week’s problem is a good demonstration of that principle. For the rollout I had to look […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Avoiding Contact

2019 - Intermediates 21

Money Play. How should Red play 44?   XGID=—-a-EbE—dCB–b-cba—-:0:0:1:44:0:0:3:0:10   This is an apparently simple position and many will make the reflex move 14/10(2), 8/4(2)*. However, that is completely the wrong game plan and any move other than the right one is a triple blunder or worse! Red will be 36 pips up after the […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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. […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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