Bray’s Learning Curve: Weighing Anchors

Match Play. Red leads 4-2 to 11. How should Red play 55?

2019 - Intermediates 11

XGID=-aaB-bE-B—bCb–b-dBa—A:0:0:1:55:4:2:0:11:10

This position comes from the recent Boston Open. The score is actually irrelevant to the play.

Red played bar/15, 20/15(2) with his double fives but that was not the best play.

Giving up an anchor in a backgammon game is a major decision and the more I play the more I like to hang on to my anchor. Of course, eventually you have to give up your anchor and run for home but if you can do it with a gain of tempo (i.e. hitting your opponent as you do so) so much the better.

When there is a lot of play left in a position, as is the case here, then normally you are better off holding on to the anchor so that you have a safe re-entry point. There is likely to be quite a lot of hitting before this game is finished and so Red should have kept hold of his opponent’s 5-pt.

He should have played bar/20, 6/1(2)* (Barclay Cooke would turn in his grave with making the ace-point so early!) and then thought about the third five. He could play safe with 13/8 but he has gained a tempo by putting White on the bar. Three checkers on the 15-pt is inefficient and so the spare checker should be put to work with 20/15. 13/8 is too safe a play given the demands of the position and as you can see from the rollout such a passive play is actually a blunder.

The result is that after bar/15, 6/1(2)* Red has maintained a flexible game plan. After bar/15, 20/15(2) he has no choice but to try to tip-toe through the minefield to bring his checkers home safely – a blot being hit could be ruinous. Try playing the position out a few times and you will find just how difficult it is to bring those checkers home.

There isn’t a huge equity difference between the two top plays but the important thing is to understand the concepts behind bar/15, 6/1(2)*.

So, remember – keep hold of your anchors!

 

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Intermediates 11 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

 

USBGF Intermediate Divisional LV

Jeff Spencer 2019

Congratulations to Jeffrey Spencer, winner of the Intermediate Divisional LV. Jeff defeated Marcela Pelagatti in the 13-point final. Christa Solovey and Marcus Selle finished 3/4 in the 11-point semi-final.

The Intermediate Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1500.00 and lower at the time of registration to enter the tournament. See current online tournament ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

USBGF Intermediate Divisional LVI

Marcus Selle 2019

Congratulations to Marcus Selle, winner of the Intermediate Divisional LVI. Marcus defeated Simona Staneva in the 13-point final. Sharooz Moreh and Kamron Kheirani finished 3/4 in the 11-point semi-final. The Intermediate Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1500.00 and lower at the time of registration to enter the tournament. See current online tournament ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

Bray’s Learning Curve: The Third Roll

 

Money Play. How should Red play 32?

2018 - Beginners 11

XGID=-b—-EBB—eD—b-db—B-:0:0:1:32:0:0:3:0:10

After the second roll there are about 600 possible positions. When it gets to third roll there are many thousands so you cannot learn them off by heart, instead you have to learn the appropriate principles.

This position arises after Red has opened with 61 (13/7, 8/7) and White has replied with 31 (8/5, 6/5). Red must now play 32. How should he play it?

Once your opponent has made his 5-pt it is normally correct to split the back checkers to stop your opponent quickly building a prime in front of your rear checkers.

That would imply playing 24/22, 13/10 or 24/21, 13/11. Surprisingly enough both these moves are still errors because they don’t go far enough in applying the correct principle. The correct move is 24/22, 24/21, advancing both rear checkers. One of the ideas behind the play is that if one of the checkers is pointed on, you might be able to make an advanced anchor using the other one.

It is interesting to see how big a blunder 13/11, 13/10 is. That play strips the mid-point of its spare builders and does nothing about addressing the strength of White’s home board position. 13/8 is also very weak because it does virtually nothing to improve Red’s position at a time when he should be taking risks.

The key here is to learn the principle of advancing both checkers and then put that principle into use in your own future games.

Rollout Data from Extreme Gammon

beginners 11 Roolout

 

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

 

 

 

 

USBGF Advanced Divisional LXV

2018 Parks David

Congratulations to David Parks, winner of the Advanced Divisional LXV. David defeated Kevin Jones in the 17-point final. Max Glaezer and Tom Horton finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final.

The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration. See current online standings: Leader Board.

Brays Learning Curve: The Opening Roll

 

Money Play. How should Red play 64?

Basic Begiiners 1

XGID=-b—-E-C—eE—c-e—-B-:0:0:1:64:0:0:3:0:10

What could be easier than the opening roll? After all, there are only fifteen of them that you have to learn. Not too much work for anybody.

Five opening rolls are always played the same way: 31 (8/5, 6/5); 42 (8/4, 6/4); 53 (8/3, 6/3): 61 (13/7, 8/7) and 65 (24/13). These moves have stood the test of time although as late as the mid-1970s 53 was often played 13/10, 13/8! The game is old (5,000 years) but some of the theory is quite young.

With the other ten opening rolls you have choices as to how you play them. I have chosen to discuss 64. For years this was played 24/14, simply running a back checker in an attempt to get it to safety. Then people started moving 6x by moving 24/18, 13/x. This applied to 62, 63 and 64. The idea behind this play is to either make the opponent’s bar-point next turn or promote an exchange of hits on that bar-point. Normally that exchange of hits is favourable to the player who opens with the 6x.

For years, players laughed at the third choice, 8/2, 6/2, making the 2-pt. It was felt that this play made a point too deep in the home board so near the start of the game. Then along came computers and lo and behold, they think that making the 2-pt is a very reasonable move.

As you can see from the rollout below there is virtually nothing to choose between the three plays and so it becomes a matter of personal choice (except in match play but that is a lesson for another day). The three moves lead to very different types of game so if you want a simple game choose 24/14. Pick 24/18, 13/9 for complexity and 8/2, 6/2 lies somewhere between the other two.

The opening roll is likely to be the last time you have a choice so enjoy it while you can.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Basic Beginners Rollout 1

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

 

USBGF November Online Circuit

2018 Tampa_Michael Neagu

Congratulations to Michael Neagu, winner of the USBGF 2018 November Monthly Circuit. Michael won this single elimination tournament by defeating Miki Laukkanen in the 17-point final match. Andrew Selby and John Manning finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final match. See the Online Circuit Leader Board posting here.

Brays Learning Curve: Complex Ending

  1. Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

  2. Match Play. Red leads 2-1 to 5. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

2018 - Experts 10

XGID=-aC—-b-a—a—abcbb—A:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

Without an extensive knowledge of reference positions this is a difficult problem. If you have seen something like this before it makes life a lot easier!

I know that if those three checkers on the 2-pt were safely on the ace-point this would be a double and a huge pass but the possibility of White picking up a second (and even a third) checker make things much more complex. Of course, White has to know the right technique to maximise his chances of picking up that additional checker. He must build a prime, then Red has to roll an inconvenient ace and play 2/1* and then White must hit that exposed checker.

White must be patient and the game may well go on for a long time. However, the threat of picking up that additional checker makes this a very easy take for White and in fact, Red only just has a double.  Unless, of course, he thinks that White will drop and believe me a fair few people will drop this.

At the match score, doubling this position would be a gargantuan blunder. White will need little excuse to to redouble to four and put the match on the line as his winning chances from 1-4 down (Crawford) are only 17%. Red must leave the cube where it is at this match score and hope to win a gammon to take him to 4-1 ahead. He will actually win a gammon about 17% of the time from the start position.

Because of the match score Red may not even be able to double if he ends up with a single checker closed out. It will depend upon if he has any other checkers exposed in his home board and White’s exact bear-off structure.

You can learn a lot from this position by adjusting it slightly. For example, change the match score to 1-1, and see what impact that has. As I have remarked before backgammon is a very complex game and you can learn a lot by an in-depth study of any single position. This one is worthy of your attention! 

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Money

Experts 10 Rollout - Money

Match

Experts 10 Rollout - Match

 

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

 

 

Brays Learning Curve: Gammons Count Double

Money Play. How should Red play 31?

2018 - Intermediates 10

 

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 have tidied up his home board and Red may have to break from his midpoint as he has no safe sixes to play elsewhere. He should not be breaking up his perfect home board, rather he should be using it as a weapon.

The correct play is 13/12, 13/10. Now Red has not wasted any pips in the race and if White hits he risks losing a gammon to any return hit. In fact, most of the plays that break the home board win the same or slightly more single games than 13/12, 13/10 but that play wins 10% more gammons – a huge difference.

Players tend to look at the downsides of any potentially risky play and lose sight of the upsides. Remember that gammons do count double!

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

 

Intermediates 10 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

 

 

 

USBGF October Monthly Circuit

Ted Chee LA2018_pg

Congratulations to Ted Chee, winner of the USBGF 2018 October Monthly Circuit. Ted won this single elimination tournament by defeating Manny Olszynko in the 17-point final match. Jerry Unger and Kat Denison finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final match. See the Online Circuit Leader Board posting here.

Brays Learning Curve: Count the Ways

 

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

2018 - Beginners 10

XGID=–DF-aCB———–bdbbbb-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

This type of position is fairly common so it is best to know how to deal with it.

First, it should be clear that Red should double. With a 15-pip lead in the race and multiple market-losing sequences not doubling here would be a double blunder.

The interesting question is whether or not can White can take. His thinking should go along these lines:

Red will leave me a shot with 62, 26, 44, 55 and 66. I will hit that 30% of the time so that is 1.5 wins out of 36.

What about the race? Red is nominally 15 pips ahead but that is not a true count. He has six checkers on his 3-pt and four checkers on his 2-pt. that will add approximately 6 pips to his adjusted pip count. In addition, he will have empty 4- and 5-pts in the bear-off so that will create further inefficiencies for him. On the down side he has only two crossovers and two pips to get his checkers home while I have 4 crossovers and 15 pips to roll before I can begin to bear-off.

In the 31 games where he doesn’t leave me a shot, can I win 7.5 of them to bring me up to the nine games I need to win to accept the double? To answer that question requires both experience and judgment but it can be made a lot easier if you have a reference document. Luckily, you will find “Backgammon Races” in the download section of my website: www.chrisbraybackgammon.com

The answer in this particular case is that White can take with relative comfort. The key to learning is then to adjust the position to find out what happens when things change. Move the spare on White’s 4-pt to his 5-pt and he can still take the double but move it to his 6-pt and the position becomes a drop.

In the initial position if we move one of the spare checkers on Red’s 3-pt to his 6-pt the position becomes double/drop because 44,55 and 66 now play safely. So small differences in the position can make a big difference to the cube action – tricky game backgammon.

 

Rollout Data from Extreme Gammon

Beginners 10 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

 

USBGF December Monthly Circuit

2017_AlfredMamlet_Silicon V

Congratulations to Alfred Mamlet, winner of the USBGF 2018 December Monthly Circuit. Alfred won this single elimination tournament by defeating Rich Sweetman in the 17-point final match. Ray Bills and John Graas finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final match. See the Online Circuit Leader Board posting here.

Brays Learning Curve: Match Play Problem

Match Play. Score 4-4 to 7. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take?

 

2018 - Experts 9

XGID=—B-aDBBB—B–aAbbbc-bb-:0:0:1:63:4:6:1:7:10

Once again, the match score dominates the doubling decision.

For money this would be a very premature redouble as White has all his checkers in play and,  owning the cube, he would be in a powerful position to redouble Red if the game turned around.

However, at this match score the cube is valueless to White and so it is merely a question of whether Red is a sufficient enough favourite to redouble now.

White’s point of last take is 25% (the match-winning chances he would have if he dropped the redouble). Is Red close enough to 75% winning chances to redouble? As ever that is a matter of using experience to make the judgement and an exact percentage estimate is impossible.

However, Red has a five-point prime, a five-point home board and White is on the bar. He is certainly a strong favourite. Over the board I redoubled this position and my opponent dropped.

White should have taken as you can see from the rollout below. Red is near the top of his doubling window but not above it. Therefore, the answer is that Red should redouble and White should take.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Experts 9 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

 

Brays Learning Curve: Good Numbers and Bad Numbers

Money Play. How should Red play 43?

2018 - Intermediates 9

XGID=-BbC-BB-D——–bbcd–bB-:0:0:1:43:0:0:3:0:10

This is not a very difficult problem but Red went astray over the board by playing 24/21, 8/4, which is an unnecessary overplay. White replied with 64, played 7/1*, 5/1 and after Red fanned, White won with cube.

Red should observe that White has 13 checkers in the attack zone and that should flag up an immediate warning. Those extra checkers on the 6- and 5-pts are just itching to join the battle. At the moment White’s sixes and some of his fours play badly but not after 24/21, 8/4.

Equally well Red cannot afford the luxury of the ‘safe’ play which puts a third useless checker on his ace-point and does nothing to help his position.

The correct play is 8/5, 8/4 which puts the checkers where Red wants and just as importantly does not allow White an attack. There is also some duplication of twos.

White is a strong favourite irrespective of which play Red chooses but anything other than 8/5, 8/4 is a bad blunder.

They key is that Red must stop all those checkers in White’s home board coming into play.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Intermediates 9 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

 

 

 

 

Brays Learning Curve: Blitz

Money Play. How should Red play 31?

2018 - Beginners 9

XGID=aBBAa-B-BA–cCA–e-e—-A-:1:-1:1:31:0:0:3:0:10

This position is used to highlight a very common error amongst beginners, intermediates and sometimes even experts.

Red has doubled and embarked on a blitz. Sadly, he has thrown a poor number. Many players now think that they must give up on the blitz and tighten things up.

I would expect to see 13/9 played quite often and the even weaker 14/13, 9/6 will have quite a few supporters.

The basic strategy for such positions is to keep blitzing until it is no longer possible. This means that in this position the correct play is 8/4*. There is a huge difference between having two rather than one opposing checker on the bar. One bad roll from White, particularly staying on the bar, could see him quickly lose a gammon.

The game-winning percentage for all three of the plays discussed is very similar but 8/4* wins 10% more gammons and that is the big difference.

8/4* leaves five Red blots and that puts many players off making the correct play. Yes, Red will lose some games, and even gammons, when things go badly, but there are very few certainties in backgammon and Red can only play what the dice give him.

Any play other than 8/4* is bad blunder. So remember, have the courage of your convictions, and blitz aggressively until that plan is no longer viable.

Rollout Data from Extreme Gammon

Beginners 9 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

 

 

Brays Learning Curve: Complexity

Match Play. Red trails 4-6 to 7 (Crawford). How should Red play 63?

2018 - Experts 8

XGID=—B-aDBBB—B–aAbbbc-bb-:0:0:1:63:4:6:1:7:10

This position was originally posted on Facebook by Phil Simborg. In terms of degree of difficulty this is a very high tariff problem.

If this was a money game with Red holding the cube on 2 then the answer would be the simple 17/8. Every other play loses too many gammons.

However, this is the Crawford Game and Red must win it in order to continue the match. Gammons are irrelevant and so Red just needs to make the play that wins the most often.

I think a lot of players would elect to play 17/14, 13/7, leaving no direct shots but whenever White rolls a 5 or a 6 Red will very likely be in trouble and what does Red plan to do on his next roll even if White rolls small numbers? That is the key to the problem.

The more direct approach is 17/11, 8/5*, employing the standard backgammon theory of attacking a lone blot. Red may be able to execute a blitz or possibly create a prime.

The one move nobody looks at 17/11, 13/10!! A passive move exposing two blots to direct shots!

Whenever White rolls a 5 or a 6 Red will be in big trouble, although he will have a small amount of residual equity. The big gains come on the 16 rolls when White doesn’t roll a 5 or a 6. Now Red is ideally placed to attack/prime White’s rear checker.

The difference between 17/11, 8/5* and 17/11, 13/10 is small but small differences count for a lot in backgammon. Not one in a hundred players would find and, more importantly, play 17/11, 13/10 over the board demonstrating just how difficult the game can be. Even analysing in the calm of one’s study it is hard to find the right play.

The key is that having once seen the solution you can now take this type of thinking and apply it to future problems even though such a problem may not occur again for quite some time.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Experts 8 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

USBGF Advanced Divisional LXIII

Kevin Jones 2017

Congratulations to Kevin Jones, winner of the Advanced Divisional LXIII. Kevin defeated Lynda Clay in the 17-point final. Andrew Hunter and Brian Cohen finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final.

The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration. See current online standings: Leader Board.

USBGF Intermediate Divisional LIV

genna_cowan

Congratulations to Genna Cowan, winner of the Intermediate Divisional LIV. Genna defeated Marcela Pelagatti in the 13-point final. Curt Wilhelmsen and Marti Leal finished 3/4 in the 11-point semi-final.

The Intermediate Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1500.00 and lower at the time of registration to enter the tournament. See current online tournament ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

USBGF Advanced Divisional LXI

Dan Wittkopp 2019

Congratulations to Dan Wittkopp, winner of the Advanced Divisional LXI. Dan defeated Michael Flohr in the 17-point final. Vinson Blanton and HB Drake finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final.

The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration. See current online standings: Leader Board.

USBGF Advanced Divisional LXII

SwartwoutPeter-web-2017

Congratulations to Peter Swartwout, winner of the Advanced Divisional LXII. Peter defeated Fabian Melnik in the 17-point final. Mary Morse and William Porter finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final.

The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration. See current online standings: Leader Board.

Brays Learning Curve: Run or Prime?

Money Play. How should Red play 63?

2018 - Intermediates 8

XGID=-a-BBCCBA———ccbbcBa-:1:1:1:63:0:0:3:0:10

 The age-old question: should you build the full prime with 8/2, 5/2 and perhaps crack it as soon as next turn, or use that precious 6 to run with either 23/14 or 22/17, 8/5?

When I had this position as White, I knew what I wanted my opponent to do and that was to run. He very kindly obliged and after a couple of good rolls I was actually able to play on for, and win, a gammon.

The correct play by quite some way 8/2, 5/2 – see the rollout below. The keys to the position are:

  • A full prime is much stronger than a five-point prime and even if Red cannot escape a checker next turn, he will still probably have a five-point prime, so he will be no worse off and, if he rolls a six, he is nearly home free.
  • Crucially, White must play before Red rolls again and facing a full prime he will have to move on his side of the board. Big numbers like 64, 65, 55, 54 etc now severely damage his position, giving Red gammon opportunities.

My rule of thumb in such positions is to take the full prime if it is on offer and that rule has stood me in good stead throughout my playing career. If Red had a 65 to play then 23/27, 8/3 would be correct.

Note that 23/17, 8/5 is much better than 23/14 because it halves the gammon losses. The former is an error, the latter is a blunder. Players often forget to take gammons into account properly when deciding upon a move. 23/14 exposes three blots and that is too many when there is a sensible alternative.

So, remember, hardly ever turn down a full prime!

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Intermediates 8 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

 

 

Brays Learning Curve: Hit or Point?

Money Play. How should Red play 42?

2018 - Beginners 8

XGID=aa—BD-C—eDa–c-dA—A-:1:-1:1:42:0:0:3:0:10

This is a type of position that I constantly see misplayed by beginners and intermediates.

They nearly always play 20/14*, putting a second checker on the bar. Hopefully not many players would select the craven 24/20, 13/11! Such a passive move is not the way to winning backgammon.

As the great Paul Magriel used to say, “put ‘em where you want ‘em”. This should give you a clue!

The correct play is 8/4, 6/4. This gives Red an excellent long-term asset and considerably reduces White’s chances of counter-play. A quarter of the time he will still be shooting at the White blot on Red’s 14-pt next turn.

8/4, 6/4 wins more games and more gammons than 20/14*. That may surprise many, but that extra home-board point, which is also part of a potential prime, really stifles White’s play.

If you don’t believe this try playing the position a few times. You will soon see that making the 4-pt is much stronger than hitting the extra blot.

Rollout Data from Extreme Gammon

Beginners 8 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

 

 

USBGF Intermediate Divisional LIII

BJ_2 Int Div

Congratulations to Elizabeth Liberty, winner of the Intermediate Divisional LIII. Elizabeth defeated Shahrooz Moreh in the 13-point final. Curt Wilhelmsen andTed Cetola finished 3/4 in the 11-point semi-final. The Intermediate Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1500.00 and lower at the time of registration to enter the tournament.

See the current online tournament ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

USBGF Intermediate Divisional LII

David-Bradley_Cuddles

Congratulations to David Bradley, winner of the Intermediate Divisional LII. David defeated Elizabeth Liberty in the 13-point final. Shahrooz Moreh and Timothy Dugan finished 3/4 in the 11-point semi-final. The Intermediate Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1500.00 and lower at the time of registration to enter the tournament.

See the current online tournament ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

Brays Learning Curve: Flexible Game Plans

Match Play. Red trails 4-5 to 17. How should Red play 54?

2018 - Experts 7

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 basically resigns Red playing a 3-pt holding game except in a few cases.

Red needs to take advantage of his stronger home board, the fact that White has no anchor and also that White has another exposed blot on his 11-pt.

Red should try to win by going forward. If he can’t do that then he can steer for a well-timed back game and if all else fails, he still has the option of playing a 3-pt game. This gives him multiple possible game plans rather than just one, nearly always a good idea.

The four must be played 7/3*. After that Red needs to release the spare checker on the 21-pt to attack the White blot in the outfield. Thus the 5 is played 21/16. That is much more flexible than 13/8, which in turn is much better than Bonnet’s actual 13/9, 7/2.

As you can see from the rollout 13/9, 7/2 is a blunder. In backgammon it pays to keep your options option and that is precisely what 21/16, 7/3* does.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

 Experts 7 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

 

Final of EBIF World Team Championship between U.S. and Norway on GridGammon

U.S. Backgammon Federation (USBGF)
Published by Karen Davis · 16 hrs ·

Final of EBIF World Team Championship between U.S. and Norway being played this weekend on GridGammon! Come watch!: EBIF International.
Neil Kazaross won his match with Norway’s Sven Wisloff Nilssen with a 2.32 PR and 8 Luck Factor!

Joe Russell has his match scheduled today, Friday, December 21, at 10:30 pm Pacific time (that’s 1:30 am Saturday Eastern/GGT or 7:30 am Central European Time on Saturday morning.

Alfred Mamlet has his match with Jorn Nesdal scheduled at Noon Eastern/GGT time (18:00 Central European time) on Saturday, December 22.
Steve Sax has his match with Asbjorn Arntzen scheduled at 1 pm Pacific time on Saturday, (4 pm Eastern/GGT and 22:00 Central European time).

Roberto Litzenberger has his match with Hans Marias Eikseth at 1 pm Eastern/GGT (19:00 CET) Sunday, December 23.

Donate to Boards for Kids and Beat the USBGF Teaching Pro!

Make a tax-deductible charitable donation to the U.S. Backgammon Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, to support the Boards for Kids program and play a match against USBGF Teaching Pro Phil Simborg or USBGF Board member and top-ranked player Frank Talbot. Donations may be made to the Foundation’s PayPal account: donations@usbgf.org.

Donors will play USBGF Teaching Pro Phil Simborg or Frank Talbot, a Certified Teaching Pro and member of the Board of the U.S. Backgammon Federation, on GammonSite, a backgammon server of GameSite 2000. Phil and Frank will give you a few comments or tips to improve your game during the match or afterwards based on an XG analysis of your play.

If donors are not already subscribed to GammonSite, they may play their match for free. GameSite 2000 is known as the producer of the premier eXtreme Gammon software for analyzing backgammon positions and matches. GameSite 2000 is a corporate sponsor of the U.S. Backgammon Federation. It offers a 20% discount on XG to USBGF Premium members and a 30% discount on its GammonSite backgammon server for all USBGF members ($14 a year compared to $20 a year for non-members).

Donors contributing $25 will play a 3-point match with Phil or Frank; donors contributing $50 will play a 5-point match. All winners of the match with Phil or BLC Teaching Pro will be entered into a GammonSite single elimination blitz. Winners of 3-point matches will receive one entry; winners of 5-point matches two entries. Each 8-player blitz will offer a prize of one year Premium membership in the USBGF (or one-year extension) or a $60 credit for use at the USBGF BG Shop. In addition winners will receive a one-year subscription to GammonSite.

100% of all donations will be used to supply backgammon boards to youth including all youth under age 18 playing in ABT tournaments. Donations will be matched by Phil, Xavier Dufaure de Citres, the CEO of GameSite 2000, and Karen Davis, President/Executive Director of USBGF. Prizes will be donated by USBGF and GameSite 2000.

So act now! Send a donation via PayPal to the account donations@usbgf.org
and receive a tax deduction while supporting growth of the game we all love! The offer will expire January 31, 2019.

Brays Learning Curve: Multiplicity

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

2018 - Intermediates 7

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 the blot on his 4-pt that is only part of what he needs to do.

Red has 28 numbers that cover the blot on the 4-pt and the numbers that don’t cover (4’s and 5’s) escape his rear checkers. That looks powerful but some of those covering numbers are not ideal – look at 33 and 66.

Not only must Red cover the blot, he must also escape three checkers from behind a broken prime (a non-trivial exercise), all the time hoping that White stays on the bar. As soon as White enters that checker he is only one good roll away from escaping.

For Red to win this position all the steps outlined above must be completed. The odds against all those events happening is the product of the individual events occurring. So, for example, if three events all have a 50% chance of happening then the odds against all of them happening is 50% x 50% x 50% = 12.5%. This concept is known as multiplicity.

Now you can get some idea of just how much work Red has to do to win this position so in fact, doubling in this position is a 2.5 times blunder and White’s take is trivial! Even if Red covers the blot and White fans, he probably won’t have a double next turn!

Despite all that I would still expect some players to drop from the White side because they would take an overly pessimistic view of the situation – a perennial problem for less experienced players!

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

 Intermediates 7 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

 

 

USBGF Intermediate Divisional LI

Liberty Elizabeth Int Div

Congratulations to Elizabeth Liberty, winner of the Intermediate Divisional LI. Elizabeth defeated Konstantin Keresteliev in the 13-point final. Crista Solovey and Vinson Blanton finished 3/4 in the 11-point semi-final.

The Intermediate Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating of 1500.00 and lower at the time of registration to enter the tournament. See current online tournament ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

USBGF Advanced Divisional LX

Congratulations to Gary Zelmanovics, winner of the Advanced Divisional LX. Gary defeated Chris Krisilas in the 17-point final. Jason Karns and Andrew Hunter finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final.

The Advanced Divisional requires players have a Circuit Elo rating between 1500.01 – 1649.99 at the time of registration. See latest standings: Leader Board.