Nomination of Candidates for 2018 USBGF Board of Directors Election

As prescribed by the By-Laws, the Board of Directors of the U.S. Backgammon Federation announces that members may nominate candidates, including themselves, for election to the Board of Directors. Nominees must be members of the USBGF. The Board asks members to please limit their nominees to candidates who have expressed a willingness to serve and to contribute to the Board. Nominations must be submitted to nominations before 12:00 midnight EDT, Wednesday, October 31, 2018.

Four seats will be up for election this year. Four Incumbents shown below plan to stand for re-election to the Board:

Seat #10 — Bill Riles (incumbent)
Seat #11 — Tara Mendicino (incumbent)
Seat #12 — Marty Storer (incumbent)
Seat #13 — Frank Talbot (incumbent)

After receiving nominations, the USBGF Governance and Nominating Committee will review the slate of candidates, confirm that each will serve if elected, solicit a short statement of qualifications, and may or may not recommend up to four candidates to the membership,

The election will take place from November 15 to November 30 by electronic ballot. Each USBGF member may cast a ballot for up to four candidates. All candidates, incumbent or otherwise, run ‘at-large’ (not for specific seats) with the four candidates receiving the most votes being elected — there are certain other qualifications outlined in the By-Laws.

It is always crucial for the continued success of the organization that viable, qualified, willing candidates be nominated by the membership. Fresh ideas, new expertise, and enthusiasm enhance the functioning of the Board.

Bray’s Learning Curve – Volatility

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

2018 - Intermediate 3

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 of losing his market because he feared the sequence where he hits loose and then White return hits from the bar and then Red fans. Beware, considering unlikely nightmare scenarios is not the way to make decisions in backgammon.

Red’s thinking should go along these lines:

  • If I point on White’s blot (15 rolls), unless he rolls 26 from the bar I will have lost my market.
  • I will pick and pass with 14, 24, 34, 54 (8 rolls) and if White fans, again I will have lost my market.
  • With all remaining numbers except 64, 44 and 66 I will hit loose and if White doesn’t hit back yet again I will have lost my market. I note that 44 and 66 are both very good for the race.
  • Yes, I will lose some games where I do get hit and stay on the bar but overall, I will gain many more points by doubling now than I will lose in the odd case where thing go wrong.
  • The position is incredibly volatile and so I must double now or I risk losing my market.
  • Therefore, I double.

On the other side of the coin White has an easy take based upon his hitting and racing chances. Like many middle game positions this is both a correct double and a correct take.

Note that if White had a five-point board or even a closed board the doubling decisions for both players remain the same.

Success in backgammon is largely determined by one’s cube handling and here not doubling would be a blunder. If you didn’t double because you were afraid of being hit from the bar then hopefully after reading this article you will have learnt to think more positively.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Intermediates 3 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 XLVII

Foust Aaron_cm
Photo C Mayeron

Congratulations to Aaron Foust, winner of the Intermediate Divisional XLVII. Aaron defeated Garrett Duquesne in the 13-point final. Elizabeth Liberty and Sarah Saltus Siddig 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.

2018 USBGF Tournament of Champions

Adam Prager_sm

Congratulations to Adam Prager, winner of the 2018 Tournament of Champions. Adam bested Jaime Obregon in the 21-point final. Gary Oleson and Matthew Brown finished 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final.

This single match event is by invitation only and is limited to those players who have won a tournament during the 2017 Online Circuit season. The first and second place finishers will receive certificates and an analysis of their final match by a leading backgammon expert. First place will receive a one-year extension of their USBGF membership, and second place will receive a six-month extension of their membership.

The winner of the 2018 Tournament of Champions is recognized on the USBGF website, USBGF Facebook page, and then interviewed for an article in PrimeTime Backgammon magazine. The USBGF Online Circuit Leader Board includes Elo rating and Win/Loss record of all players in USBGF-sponsored online events who are active members.

Ray’s Instant Replays: Cracking The Re-Whip in San Jose

Instant replays enhance sports viewing immeasurably. They are also now used to determine the right call by game officials at crucial moments of a contest. I think I can expand my horizons a little here and apply that concept to Backgammon Tournaments. Smart phones, live streaming, and recording stations proliferate the scene nowadays. As a result, specific plays can be highlighted and discussed. This will be my purpose here.

InstantSportsReplay
With such an endless supply of material available to us the USBGF wants to be on the leading edge of the backgammon information age with this blog. April Kennedy is a talented promoter and has become the Social Media Director for the USBGF, under the direction and influence of Karen Davis. They approached me with this idea as I have written a few articles for Prime Time magazine and have the most experience playing on the American Backgammon Tour over the last 25 years. Writing comes easily to me but I have never done a blog except to post occasionally at Stick Rice’s BG Online which remains a great source of real time backgammon information. I envision a process where I can log on and share pertinent positions, ideas and problems I have recently encountered over the board. Perhaps even between matches at a tournament. Maybe there will be an opportunity for Questions and Answers too.
As one of the most active players on the ABT, I can serve as your guide through the many maze like situations you will face playing matches. I might be able to bring obscure concepts into clearer focus for you or shine a light on those that you were not aware of. The possibilities are intriguing to me and I hope to gain knowledge and understanding myself while sharing it with you. We can all learn together and maybe a certain synergy will develop in the process.

The upcoming fall issue of Prime Time magazine highlights the return to backgammon of the great Art Benjamin. I think the American Backgammon Tour is in its 25th year and not many people know that Art was once the leader of the ABT for the first five years or so before he took a leave of absence to start his family and pursue his career as a math professor. It occurs to me that all of the current and former number one players on the ABT are now working closely with the USBGF in some capacity. Marty Storer, Art, and Neil Kazaross are current board mebers, for instance. I write freelance and will be the Captain for the maiden voyage of this blog.

ChristShip

So, let’s bust a bottle of champagne on the bow, and christen the SS INSTANT REPLAY shall we?

People like stories and I like telling them so here we go. Once upon a time, in the year 2018, I journeyed to San Jose… Intent upon playing in the Silicon Valley Open backgammon tournament run by Ken Bame and his staff. Ken runs a Swiss movement tournament and was ably assisted by Jeb Horton, a sort of travelling expert on Backgammon Tournaments. Ken and Jeb worked hard all weekend to get the job done but they were plagued by some inevitable slow play, as usual for most backgammon tournaments even though the use of play clocks has become widely accepted.

Regardless I was enjoying some good fortune in the event having won my first four matches. At that point there were three players left undefeated: Myself, Art Benjamin and the ever present Jack Edelson from Wisconsin. The draw was posted for round five, and Jack was going to play Art, then something went haywire and I noticed that I was paired against a player whose record was 2-2. Winners play winners in this format, so that would not do. The draw was redone and now I was to face Art and our match was designated to be streamed live.

Not wanting to embarrass Art who would soon be featured in Prime Time magazine, I let him win our match 9-2/9. Few players possess the innate sensitivity to work with a story line as I do (smile). Art sent me to bed with a respectable 4 and 1 record. Jack won his match so Jack and Art would go up the hill to fetch a pail of ABT points the next day. Jack fell down and lost his crown and Art remained undefeated. The leader board was taking form by now.

I had lost to Art and the next two players I played on day two. Having reached round eight, even Art had now lost a match to Chris Knapp, a player from Canada. Evidently Chris had a different idea for the ending of this story! As it happens Chris and Art played two more times in this event… The second of which spawned the subject of this article. I was watching them play and Art was leading 2-1/9. Art owned the cube on 2 and they were in a bear off. Art rolled a fortunate set and the position became this:

Rays Instant Replay Art 4 roll 9-11-18 XG answer

XGID=-CCB——————-fa-:1:1:1:00:2:1:0:9:10

I thought idly that Art should redouble Chris and Chris would take it and this game would weigh heavily in the outcome of this relatively short match. Then Art fooled me! He began thinking and staring at the board. His hands were held at an awkward angle and his head was cocked to the side. It bounced a little as bits of information struggled to take center stage in his conscious thought process.
Art ciphers quicker than most so I didn’t have to wait long for his decision. He rolled the dice without redoubling. Both he and Chris, at his turn, rolled non doublets and then Art redoubled and Chris passed. The score was changed to 4-1/9 in Art’s favor. I took my leave at that point and resolved to revisit the situation with Art later. Meanwhile another great player and one of the fastest ever on the American Backgammon Tour walked by. Frank Talbot, another member of the USBGF Board of Directors. Frank likes to talk backgammon so I showed him the position too. Frank quickly recognized that double ones and double twos did not “work” for Art, and after some careful consideration Frank said: This is a hold, and he mentioned the score being a factor. That means no redouble in BG lingo, for the uninitiated.
In hindsight we can all see that Art and Frank have erred on the side of caution, while I would have carelessly re whipped a 4 cube over. Interestingly enough Art took second to Chris in the tournament, and Frank also cashed, while I did not. Frank’s feat was all the more impressive when you consider that he was 2 wins and 3 losses after five matches, necessitating that he win at least six matches in a row to cash. I was glad he proposed to call off our side bet in the money round after I lost it, lol.

I think we can learn something here given these circumstances. In general it may well be better to err on the side of caution than to have an itchy redoubling finger. Wild West gunfighters may not have been too adept at backgammon because somebody is likely to take you out with one lucky shot if you get into a lot of gunfights.

Fortunately after writing this article I got a call from Art, who was more than happy to have his match play boo boo shared with you. Art is secure in his masculinity and does not fret about showing he is human after all. In fact, the math professor in him explained to me the lesson that can be learned from this exercise. I think we all agree that though XG has a definitive idea about the line of play here, those lines get distorted in the human v human experience.

Let’s pick Art’s brain as I paraphrase what he told me before and after the XG analysis.
At the tournament Art was well prepared for my question which was why didn’t he redouble in the four roll position. He told me that he had memorized all the take points of 4 cubes in 9 point matches (!). Needless to say, I haven’t. He therefore knew that Chris Knapp had a take in a three roll position and so he could not lose his market in the four roll position unless he rolled a working doublet, thank you very much. I was playing for money on the side when he explained this and my opponent put the three roll position into XG mobile which said Chris should pass. I told him I would trust Arts math over XG mobile because Art has published more math and done more seminars than his smart phone. Then I lost thirty points to Stepan Nuniyants son Vadim. Get the picture???

After I had time to enter the position into XG and learn the bottom line, Art called me on the phone.
He explained that his chart (he has a chart?) noted that assuming 80% cube efficiency, the trailer’s take point at the score of 2-1 to 9 goes all the way down to 19%. Loosely translated that means because of potential future cube leverage you can take more freely at this relatively innocuous sore than usual. For example, the leader will need 30% game winning chances take an 8-cube if the game turns around.
In general terms, this would coincide with match play conventional wisdom. Leaders should protect their lead while trailers can become more aggressive.

The problem here, according to Art, was that, in retrospect, Chris does not have nearly enough cube efficiency. Efficiency is what Art called it and it was difficult for him to describe to me because he says it is complicated to ascertain. Enough said, Art! To try and explain the concept in layman’s terms, let’s think of cube efficiency as a function of time. In a holding game or long race the trailer would have sufficient time to find a good spot to effectively use the cube leverage the leader was handing him. Got it?
Here, in this four roll hybrid, the one thing we have little of is time! The dice will weigh heavily in the outcome and Chris must LOSE HIS MARKET by a mile to win. He won’t be able to get in any cute little 8 cubes on the come. Are you following me? If Chris rolls doubles to get an advantage, his winning chances won’t be 70%, they’ll be closer to 85%. His 8-cube would be very inefficient.

Anyway, due to this lack of cube efficiency Art said that Chris’ take point reverts back to the normal area of 25%. This makes holding back on the redouble a definite error, and the three roll position a blunder to take!

Rays Instant Replay Art 4 roll 9-11-18 XG answer

I guess Art will be revising those charts. Frank will become more deadly accurate OTB. I will remain confused. This game is hard, man.

In closing I will say that it is great to have Art back. He has a way of simplifying difficult problems and passing them on to us. He gave a seminar at this tournament and the last and I believe he will revolutionize the game and the way we think about it in the near future. Second place was a fine showing of his talent(s).

Congratulations Chris Knapp on winning your fourth ABT championship in recent years. If you can beat Art two out of three matches, you deserve it!

About Ray Fogerlund

Ray has the distinction of Backgammon Giant from 2007 to present, he was inducted into the USBGF Hall of Fame in 2017, and is the most active American Backgammon Tour player of all time.  The Ray’s Instant Replays blog series will catalog his playing experiences and bring some of his hard-earned wisdom to the masses.

 

USBGF 4th Directors Cup

scott_t_-ward_2016_oct

Congratulations to Scott Ward who defeated Norm Friedman in the 19-point final match to win the USBGF Online Circuit’s 4th Director’s Cup. Finishing 3/4 in the event were Boris Dekhtyar and Richard Munitz.

Scott, for winning, will receive his choice of either a 1-year extension of his current USBGF Premium membership PLUS a 1-year GammonSite membership, or a $60 credit to spend as he wishes at the USBGF BG Shop.

For his second place finish, Norm will receive his choice of either a 1-year GammonSite membership PLUS a $15 USBGF BG Shop credit, or he may choose a $30 USBGF BG Shop credit.

Boris and Richard, for their third and fourth place finish, will receive their choice of either a 1-year GammonSite membership or a $15 USBGF BG Shop credit.

All finalists will receive certificates and Scott will be profiled in PrimeTime Backgammon magazine.
Entry is free to all USBGF Premium, Novice, and Basic members. For more information about future online events see Online Circuit Tournament Calendar.

USBGF May Monthly Circuit

Masahiro Kisono

Congratulations to Masahiro Kisono, winner of the USBGF 2018 May Monthly Circuit. Masahiro won this single elimination tournament by defeating William Lonergan in the 17-point final match. Mario Savan and Martin Zizka finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final match.

Entry in the Circuit Monthly is free to all USBGF Premium, Novice, and Basic members. For information on all USBGF Online Events go to Online Circuit.

USBGF March Monthly Circuit

KarenDavis-Cropped

Congratulations to Karen Davis, winner of the USBGF 2018 March Monthly Circuit. Karen won this single elimination tournament by defeating Daphne Downs in the 17-point final match. Pierre Viau and Olga Ivanova finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final match.
See the Online Circuit Leader Board postings here.

Bray’s Learning Curve: War Games

Money Play. How should Red play 65?

2018 - Experts 2

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 to move 22/16, 8/3. This seems logical, escaping one of the rear checkers and moving the blot on his 8-pt to safety. The problem is that Red now has one soldier away from the field of battle (the third checker on his 3-pt) and another (the blot on his 16-pt) that might struggle to reach safety next turn.

He could have elected to play 13/8, 13/7, playing completely safe but that play cedes a huge part of the field of battle (the outer boards) to his opponent and he will really struggle to escape his three rear checkers. As is often the way in war cowardice is not rewarded.

He could try 22/16, 13/8. This makes the important 8-pt but leaves two checkers exposed to White’s attack and his hitting numbers are not duplicated with the numbers he needs to cover his blot on the 2-pt. Once again, Red will struggle to safety the blots next turn even if they are missed.

By now you will have found the correct move, 22/11. This keeps all his soldiers (checkers) focused on a key area of the battlefield. The move duplicates White’s three and sixes and now, if the blots are missed, they can be usefully employed to make new points or more easily made safe. If White does give up his anchor to hit (in war terms giving up a key strategic point) then Red’s checkers (soldiers) are well-positioned to counter-attack.

You cannot implement a battle plan that do you not even consider. Here many generals (players) would not even see the possibility of 22/11 and even if they did, they might consider the risk to life and limb too high a price to pay.

However, much of war and all of backgammon is about exercising judgement, creating a balance between risk and reward. Here, the risk is worth the reward. Leaving a double direct shot is relatively rare but this position demands precisely that. In backgammon terms, any move other than 22/11 is a blunder.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Experts 2 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 XLVI

Tom Courts2018
Congratulations to Tom Courts, winner of the Intermediate Divisional XLVI. Tom defeated Elizabeth Liberty in the 13-point final. Gary Fox and Shahrooz Moreh finished 3/4 in the 11-point semi-final. Tom would like to acknowledge Ted Chee and Ray Bills, who were so generous with their time in helping him get started at Backgammon by the Bay and USGBF.

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 ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

USBGF Advanced Divisional LII

Congratulations to Paul Laubner, winner of the Advanced Divisional LII. Paul defeated John Antaki in the 17-point final. Kevin Jones and Takeru Susa 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.

USBGF Advanced Divisional LIV

Dennis Lutz_2018

Congratulations to Dennis Lutz, winner of the Advanced Divisional LIV. Dennis defeated Jason Karns in the 17-point final. David Staggs and David Richardson 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 at Leader Board.

2018 Silicon Valley Championship Winners

2018 SiliconValley winners

USBGF congratulates the winners of the 2018 Silicon Valley Open, August 31 to September 3 in San Jose, CA. Pictured above is Chris Knapp, Open winner, accepting his trophy from tournament director Ken Bame. Center photo is of the Advanced winner, Norm Friedman. On the right is David Gillett, Novice winner, with Candace Mayeron (staff) and finalist, Mary Sinutko.

American Backgammon Hall of Fame (HOF) Call for Nominations

The American Backgammon Hall of Fame recognizes those individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the game of backgammon in the United States. Candidates are not limited to those who are American citizens, provided that they have met eligibility requirements.

Use the Hall of Fame Nominations Form to nominate a candidate for this significant honor. All USBGF members are invited to nominate candidates for consideration by the USBGF Hall of Fame Committee. The Committee recognizes that the Hall of Fame has now achieved a more mature state, and will very thoroughly vet the qualifications of all nominees. Please carefully note the qualifications addressed below.

Candidates to the HOF should be individuals who have:

1. A significant body of work over a very substantial period of time, in or for the game of backgammon in the United States, as players, directors, authors, publishers, promoters, teachers, and/or innovators;
2. Realized exceptional accomplishments;

(a) Demonstrated remarkable skill through success over the board for decades. And/or…

(b) Gained achievements and recognition among the U.S. backgammon community for the majority of a long career.

The period of time suggested above by the phrases ‘very substantial period of time’, ‘over the board for decades’, and ‘for the majority of a long career’ should reflect a relevant backgammon career approaching twenty years or more.

Current members of the American Backgammon Hall of Fame (listed alphabetically):
Nack Ballard, Carol Joy Cole, Barclay Cooke, Bill Davis, Malcolm Davis, Ray Fogerlund, Patrick Gibson, Kent Goulding, Tim Holland, Oswald Jacoby, Neil Kazaross, Danny Kleinman, Paul Magriel, Howard Markowitz, Alexis Obolensky, Bill Robertie, Joe Russell, Mike Senkiewicz, Mike Svobodny, Joe Sylvester, Walter Trice, and Kit Woolsey .

To nominate a person for consideration to the 2019 Ballot for possible induction into the American Backgammon Hall of Fame, please see the Hall of Fame Nominations Form. You will need to be logged in to access the form.

You will be asked to complete the form with two main sections: (1) Notable awards and accomplishments (wins, publications, produced [events], Giants, ABT…) and (2) WHY do you think s/he should be considered (a paragraph describing the nominee’s significant body of work in or for backgammon in the USA ).

Should a member wish to re-nominate someone they have submitted in a prior year, they may do so; however, ALL nominations this year must include a new Nominations Form. If a member wishes to amend a prior submission, they may request a copy if one was not retained (request may be made to Bill Riles); however, again, a new Hall of Fame Nominations Form must be submitted this year for each nominee. Nominations from prior years will not automatically be reconsidered.

The open period for 2019 nominations is September 6th through October 9th. This opportunity allows USBGF members to submit their candidates for consideration for possible inclusion on the Ballot. The Hall of Fame Committee will review all nominations and submit a recommended Ballot to the USBGF Board of Directors for approval. The Ballot will then go to the HOF electors to vote to determine any new inductees.

Bill Riles
Chairman, Hall of Fame Committee
U.S. Backgammon Federation

Bray’s Learning Curve – Match Play Doubling

Match Play. Red trails 8-9 to 11. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?

2018 - Intermediate 2

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 double.” Match play would be dull indeed if we followed that piece of advice!

Until work began on match equity tables (Woolsey and Kleinman amongst others) everyone doubled as if playing for money. Slowly things changed, and the advent of the bots gave us a huge leap forward. Nowadays most players know at least some of the theory of match play doubling. To be successful in match playyou must know the correct doubling strategies for all the scores near the end of the match.

3-Away vs. 2-Away recurs constantly. The correct strategies for the two players are clear. The 3-Away player should double earlier than usual because the 2-Away player needs 28% winning chances to accept the cube (this figure can easily be derived from match equity tables).

If there is any threat of a gammon for the trailer, then the double should come even earlier. Note that for the leader the cube has no value (he can never win with a redouble) and winning a gammon is meaningless as it gives him more points than he needs.

I had this position against Eric McAlpine in the final of the Scope Charity Tournament earlier this year. I was Red and trailing 8-9 to 11. I studied the position for quite a while and then decided it met the criteria outlined above. The race is even but I am ahead in position and threat. Crucially, White does not have an anchor and hence I could sniff a hint of a gammon in the air.

Much to the surprise of the spectators I doubled. Eric correctly accepted. My next roll was 61 played 13/7, 6/5*. Eric didn’t anchor, and after I soon rolled a set of double fours he was in real trouble. I won a gammon (and the match) with a roll to spare.

The key lesson here is not to be afraid to put the match on the line if the odds favour you. This concept is alien to some players but until you learn that lesson and put it into practice you will never be a good match player. As you can see from the rollout data not doubling here is a blunder. Most experts would get this position right, but intermediates and beginners struggle with problems like this one.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Screenshot 2018-09-01 16.53.51

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

 

Bray’s Learning Curve: One Back versus Two

Money Play. How should Red play 32?

2018 - Beginners 2

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 plan?

Ideally, he would like to escape his other rear checker, failing that he will try to make some new points, or if rolls something like 44 he could switch to blitz. However, he has rolled a poor 32 and must decide how to play it. Realistically there are four choices:

  1. 6/1*
  2. 13/11, 13/10
  3. 24/22, 13/10
  4. 13/8

Let us now discuss these in detail:

Move a) is the weakest of the four. White is not threatening anything on his side of the board and Red should not risk getting a second checker sent back having just escaped one.

Move b) looks like a natural developing move but it does leave nine shots. More importantly if White doesn’t hit one of the two new blots he may switch to attacking Red’s blot in his home board as a diversionary tactic. If Red were to stay on the bar at any point, then those two blots represent a large (and unnecessary) liability.

Move c) combines trying to escape with creating a new builder, a sort of halfway-house. This move gives White two targets as he will certainly hit on his3-pt if he can (assuming he doesn’t roll a number that hits Red’s outfield blot). 24/22 puts Red ’under the gun’ unnecessarily.

Move d) is the correct move. It maintains Red’s slight racing lead, doesn’t give White any new targets to shoot at and brings a new builder for Red’s home board. If you read Magriel’s Safe Play vs. Bold Play criteria in his seminal work “Backgammon” you will find that this position meets the criteria for a Safe Play. 13/8 looks somewhat dull and prosaic but it is the right play for this type of position.

When you have only one rear checker it is rarely right to advance it to a point where it can be attacked, unless it is imminent danger of being primed.

Rollout Data from Extreme Gammon

Screenshot 2018-08-22 11.17.09

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

 

Bray’s Learning Curve: Match Play Complexity

(a) Money Play. How should Red play 32?

(b) Match Play. Red leads 7-2 to 11. How should Red play 32?

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

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 situations. At an even score a lot of decisions are the same as their money counterparts but once the score becomes skewed then beware, a lot of things are going to change.

To demonstrate that point let us analyse this week’s position. In a money game it should be clear that the ‘do nothing’ play of 13/8 is not the right idea. Giving White his full roll cannot be the right idea. With two White blots to attack Red may well win with a blitz.

The correct play for money is 8/3*, starting a blitz. The strength of this play is that when White fans, which he will do 25% of the time, Red will win the game with a well-timed double. Red wins just too high a percentage of gammons for White to be able to accept the cube while of course the Jacoby Rule protects White from losing a gammon, i.e. Red will not play on.

Now let us consider the match play scenario. At this match score Red will be doubling much later than usual and ideally in a situation where there are very few gammons for either player. That is not the case at the moment.

Now after 8/3* followed by a fan Red cannot even double! White will accept with alacrity and be looking to redouble to 4 at the earliest opportunity. A gammon with the cube on 4 will get White to 10-7 (Crawford) with his opponent on an odd number which is perfect for him. (Always beware of giving your opponent the opportunity to get to either Crawford or to win the match with perfect efficiency)

Equally well, 13/8 is far too passive. Red needs to improve his position if he can. Is that possible? Yes, it is. It is close, but he should play 8/5, 7/5, making the all-important 5-pt. This leaves one fewer shot than 8/3* but crucially it strengthens Red’s home board so that in any ensuing exchange of hits Red’s stronger board may have a powerful influence and that in turn will reduce his gammon losses. With the score as it is Red wants to reduce the inherent volatility and making the 5-pt does just that.

8/5, 7/5 is difficult to find, particularly over the board where one’s natural instinct is to hit. The key is to make sure you consider the play. As has often been pointed out: if you don’t see a move, you can’t play it.

Match play is far more difficult than money play and although doubling has been around for 92 years we are still only now getting to grips with understanding it, and in match play our knowledge, for the vast majority of players, is still not where it needs to be. – Chris Bray

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Money

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

Match

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

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

 

New Weekly Learning Series

Introducing Bray’s Learning Curve
We are excited to announce a new online series by author Chris Bray. Visit the USBGF Facebook page every Monday to test your knowledge. Come back on Tuesday to see the answer and get sharp insight that you can apply to your game. Here is this week’s backgammon problem:

Money Play. How should Red play 65?

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What is your play?
Join the discussion on Facebook

Members Get In-depth Analysis
USBGF members get access to a companion article with Chris Bray’s in-depth analysis and written in his friendly style. Posted every Tuesday on USBGF.org. Join now or renew your membership.

About Chris Bray
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Chris has been playing backgammon for nearly forty years. He is a well-respected author of eight backgammon books and for 23 years was the backgammon columnist for The Independent, a leading British newspaper. He also provides private and group lessons and gives seminars at backgammon tournaments. More about Chris.

We hope that you enjoy this new series.

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

2nd Montreal Open — $375 Added Money for USBGF members!

The 2nd Montreal Open, Sept 13 – 16, will be at the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton, Montreal. Rooms are $165 CAN ($129 USD) per night and must be reserved by August 15. Call 866-633-8243 to book your space.

In addition to all ABT events, the Concordia Jackpot, the Hochelago Jackpot, the Mohawk Jackpot, the Iroquois Blitz, Jacques Cartier Pre-tourney and Champlain Quickies are scheduled. Chouette Tournament, Quebec Doubles and the Old Montreal Seniors round out the weekend.

$375 added money is available for USBGF members, so join or renew before you go. All first-time Novice entrants at the tournament will receive free one-year trial USBGF membership. Do encourage local club players and family members who are new to tournament play to give it a try.
Also make a note of upcoming 2018 ABT tournaments with added money for USBGF members. Join now and be eligible for over $8000 in added money throughout the year!

Wisconsin State Backgammon Championship, August 24-25 Radisson, Madison WI, $375 added
3rd Silicon Valley Open, August 31-Sept 3, Courtyard by Marriott, San Jose, CA, $375 added.
Viking Classic,Sept 27-30, Renaissance, Bloomington MN, $375 added.
Sunny Florida Backgammon Championship, Oct 4-7, Circ Hotel, Hollywood, FL, $375 added.
Colorado State Championship, Oct 11-14, Holiday Inn East, Denver, $250 added.
6th Connecticut State Championship, Oct 18-21, Sheraton, Rocky Hill CT, $375 added.

3rd Silicon Valley Backgammon Open — $375 Added Money for USBGF members!

The
3rd Silicon Valley Open will be at the Courtyard by Marriott Silicon Valley, August 31 – September 3. Rooms are $110 single or $130 double. Call 408-383-3700 and make your reservations by August 16 to secure this special rate. All ABT events are scheduled plus the 49ers Gold Rush, the Limited Jackpot, Older and Wiser vs. Young Guns, Blitzes, Doubles, and Ted Chee’s Bounty.

$375 added money is available for USBGF members, so join or renew before you go. All first-time Novice entrants at the tournament will receive free one-year trial USBGF membership. Do encourage local club players and family members who are new to tournament play to give it a try.
Also make a note of upcoming 2018 ABT tournaments with added money for USBGF members. Join now and be eligible for over $8000 in added money throughout the year!

Wisconsin State Backgammon Championship, August 24-25 Radisson, Madison WI, $375 added.
2nd Montreal Open, Sept 13-16, Hampton Inn, Montreal, Canada, $375 added.
Viking Classic,Sept 27-30, Renaissance, Bloomington MN, $375 added.
Sunny Florida Backgammon Championship, Oct 4-7, Circ Hotel, Hollywood, FL, $375 added.
Colorado State Championship, Oct 11-14, Holiday Inn East, Denver, $250 added.
6th Connecticut State Championship, Oct 18-21, Sheraton, Rocky Hill CT, $375 added.

USBGF Intermediate Divisional XLV

Zarrir Abede Jr 2018

Congratulations to Zarrir Abede, Jr., winner of the Intermediate Divisional XLV. Zarrir defeated Tom Courts in the 13-point final. Stephanie Cochinos and James Timoney 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 ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

Wisconsin State Backgammon Championships — $375 Added Money for USBGF members!

The Madison Backgammon Club presents the Wisconsin State Backgammon Championships, August 23 – 26 at the Radisson Hotel Madison. Rooms are $104 per night if reserved by July 24. Call 608-215-4597 now. All ABT events, plus the Badger Classic, the Amateur Jackpot, Early Bird Jackpot, Doubles, 5-point blitzes and Quickies will keep you hopping. Full details available at http://madisonbg.com/index.php/wsbc.

$375 added money is available for USBGF members, so join or renew before you go. All first-time Novice entrants at the tournament will receive free one-year trial USBGF membership. Do encourage local club players and family members who are new to tournament play to give it a try.

Also make a note of upcoming 2018 ABT tournaments with added money for USBGF members. Join now and be eligible for over $8000 in added money throughout the year!
3rd Silicon Valley Open, August 31-Sept 3, Courtyard by Marriott, San Jose, CA, $375 added.
2nd Montreal Open, Sept 13-16, Hampton Inn, Montreal, Canada, $375 added.
Viking Classic, Sept 27-30, Renaissance, Bloomington MN, $375 added.
Sunny Florida Backgammon Championship, Oct 4-7, The Element, Fort Lauderdale, FL $375 added.
Colorado State Championship, Oct 11-14, Holiday Inn East, Denver, $250 added.
6th Connecticut State Championship, Oct 18-21, Sheraton, Rocky Hill CT, $375 added.

USBGF Intermediate Divisional XLIV

Image-1

Congratulations to Keith Remels, winner of the Intermediate Divisional XLIV. Keith defeated H.B. Drake in the 13-point final. Elizabeth Liberty and Shannon McKinney 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 ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

USBGF April Monthly Online Circuit

2017_AlfredMamlet_Silicon V

Congratulations to Alfred Mamlet, winner of the USBGF 2018 April Monthly Circuit. Alfred won this single elimination tournament by defeating Bob Stringer in the 17-point final match. Mario Savan and Martin Filipi finished 3/4 in the 15-point semi-final match. See the Online Circuit Leader Board posting here.

USBGF Advanced Divisional LI

glharvie._web.pg

Congratulations to GL Harvie, winner of the Advanced Divisional LI. GL defeated Jesse Anderson-Lehman in the 17-point final. Kerry Remp and Long Nguyen 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.

USBGF Intermediate Divisional XLIII

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Congratulations to H.B. Drake, winner of the Intermediate Divisional XLIII. H.B. defeated Michael Valliere in the 13-point final. Tom Courts and Ira Gardner 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 ratings at Online Circuit Leaderboard.

New USBGF Corporate Sponsor Gammon Guys Donates Artgammon Board for ABT Novice Winners and Offers Product Discounts to USBGF Members!

We’re delighted to let you know that the USBGF has a new corporate sponsor — Gammon Guys! We express our appreciation for their generous support with special thanks to their leadership Ed Corey, Ross Gordon, and Andrew Fazekas.

Gammon Guys has offered to provide a free luxury travel-size Artgammon backgammon board set (including matching cups, scoreboard, cube, and precision dice) to be awarded to the Novice division winner in all 2019 ABT tournaments with 10 or more Novice entrants in 2018. A custom luxury travel board has a value of $500.00 +shipping.

The Artgammon brand is all hand made by Ufuk Bozkurt, a wonderful Turkish craftsman who resides in Istanbul, Turkey. Ufuk’s boards are noted for their luxury, playability, beauty and durability.

In addition Gammon Guys will extend a 10% discount on Gammon Guys products to all current USBGF members. USBGF members may use the code USBGF in the discount coupon area at checkout.

Gammon Guys will also produce a customized USBGF board with USBGF logo and name which will be listed for sale in the USBGF website BG Shop.

USBGF Corporate Sponsor Criteria

If you are interested in becoming a USBGF corporate sponsor, please contact Karen Davis, Karen@usbgf. Criteria for USBGF corporate sponsorship include:
• Company/organization corporate sponsor is recognized as providing quality products/services
• Owners, directors, officers, and management have good reputation/standing in the community
• The sponsor does not require an exclusive relationship with the USBGF
• The sponsor provides a significant benefit to the USBGF, ABT tournaments, and/or members
◦ These include discounts on goods and services or provision of free goods/services such as backgammon equipment, software, publications, or airline travel/hotel accommodations.