Bray’s Learning Curve: Dynamic vs Static

2020 - Experts 26

Money Play. How should Red play 44? XGID=-aaB–DCC—-ab–eBe—–A:1:-1:1:44:0:0:3:0:10  How should Red play this 44? He has the better position, he has 12 checkers in the attack zone, has already doubled and White has three loose blots. This cries out for an active rather than a passive play. There are gammons to be won. That means […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Third Roll Question

2020 - Intermediates 26

Money Play. How should Red play 42? XGID=—–ADbC–AcD—cbe—-B-:0:0:1:42:0:0:3:0:10  This position arises after Red opens 21 played 13/11, 6/5 and White responds with 66 and makes both bar points. How should Red play this 42? It is ever so easy to pick up the checker on the 11-pt and play 11/5. A good point made and […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Middle Game Double

2020 - Beginners 26

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=-b—CDBB—bB—bccbB–a-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 The race is close but Red leads in Position and Threat. Being ahead in two out of the three key measures would indicate that Red should probably be doubling if there is sufficient volatility. There are plenty of market-losing sequences, e.g. 41 for Red […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Bear-Off Reference

Basic Beginners 16

Money Game. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? XGID=aBBCCCB—————ce–:1:1:1:00:0:0:3:0:10  You have been lucky enough to hit a shot when White was bearing off. You have closed your home board and White still languishes on the bar. When should you redouble? The basic rule of thumb, which has stood the test of time, is […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: An Unusual Position

2020 - Experts 25 money

Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? Match Play. Red leads 2-0 to 13. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? XGID=aabBbBBBA–BbC–A–db-a—:1:-1:1:61:0:0:3:0:10 Money Play. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? Match Play. Red leads 2-0 to 13. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? This position came up […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Middle Game Strategy

2020 - Intermediates 25

Money Play. How should Red play 21? XGID=-Ba-B-DBA—bBabab-db–AA-:0:0:1:21:0:0:1:0:10   When playing against a lone back checker the standard technique is to attack it. In this position Red is unable to do that, so what should his plan be? Over the board Red looked no further than 24/22, 23/22, securing an anchor in White’s home board. […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Look Ahead

2020 - Beginners 25

Money Play. How should Red play 53? Red will be thirty-eight pips ahead after the roll. That is the biggest clue in the position! If he plays the roll in his home board, he will still have three stripped points to clear and, while his board might be slightly stronger, he will have done nothing […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Development

Basic Beginners 15

Money Game. How should Red play 52? XGID=-aa—E-C—cE-aac-e—-AA:0:0:1:52:1:0:0:7:10:0:10  One of the problems with playing backgammon well is the multiplicity of choices on every roll. Given there are 21 different dice rolls I suppose this is not too surprising but it does mean you have to concentrate intently to play well. With this 52 Red has […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Back Game Dilemma

2020 - Experts 24

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: A Doubling Problem

2020 - Intermediates 24

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early 55 Blitz

2020 - Beginners 24

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Aggression

Basic Beginners 14

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Complex Double

2020 - Experts 23

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Containment Problem

2020 - Intermediates 23

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Bear-off Problem

2020 - Beginners 23

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Match Play Influence

Basic Beginners 13

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Small Doubles

2020 - Experts 22

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: A Question of Strategy

2020 - Intermediates 22

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Run or Prime

2019 - Beginners 22

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Third Roll Conundrum

Basic Beginners 12

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: The Principle of Separation

2019 - Experts 21

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Avoiding Contact

2019 - Intermediates 21

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

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Game Decision

2019 - Beginners 21

Money Play. How should Red play 62? XGID=-b–B-D-B—dE—c-ca–bB-:0:0:1:62:0:0:3:0:10 It is early in the game and Red has an awkward 62 to play. It can be played (a) 24/16 (b) 13/11, 13/7 or (c) 13/5. 24/16 gets a rear checker moving but there is no duplication of numbers in the move and it puts no pressure […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: 3-pt Holding Game

Basic Begiiners 11

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? As part of one’s library of reference positions you should know the basic doubling rules for all the different types of anchor games. Of these the most difficult is the 3-pt holding game. There is a saying that all 3-pt anchor games are doubles and […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: A Doubling Question

2019 - Experts 20

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=–ACCBB——Aa–c-bB-Acf-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 Red has seventeen numbers that hit White’s blot. Normally that is not enough to warrant a double but is that the case here? If Red hits he will nearly certainly lose his market. The position is highly volatile. When he hits Red will definitely […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: One Checker Back

2019 - Intermediates 20

Money Play. How should Red play 53? XGID=–a-BCB—A-bBb-Cc-dc-B—:1:1:1:53:0:0:3:0:10 One of backgammon’s more useful adages is this: “Prime an anchor, attack a lone rear checker.” That instruction has stood the test of time and I have applied it countless times in my backgammon career. It should be clear that this week’s position cries out for an […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: 3-pt Holding Game

2019 - Beginners 20

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=–CbBBC-B–A——beB-bbb-:0:0:1:00:0:0:1:0:10  There is well-known saying in backgammon that all 3-pt holding games are takes. This is not quite true, but it is an excellent guiding principle. Normally the player of the 3-pt holding game has both racing and hitting chances and is rarely primed to […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Strategy

Basic Begiiners 10

Money Play. How should Red play 63? XGID=-b–B-D-B—cE—c-e–b-B-:0:0:1:63:0:0:3:0:10 Red started the game by rolling 42, making his 4-pt. White responded with 55, making his 3-pt. How should Red now play 63? I frequently see this type of position misplayed. White’s 55 has given him a lead in the race but a slightly overextended structure. The […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Triple Shot

2019 - Experts 19

Money Play. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?  Match Play. 0-1 to 3. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=-BBB–CA—-A—-aBacbcBe-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 This position came up at a tournament at the Hurlingham Club. I was White and had just rolled a very unfortunate 61, played 14/8, 6/5. My opponent enthusiastically doubled, no doubt […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Time for a Plan

2019 - Intermediates 19

Money Play. How should Red play 41? XGID=–aB–DCB—bB—bde-B-a–:0:0:1:41:0:0:3:0:10  Just making moves is never a good idea. You should always have a game plan. That plan is subject to change according to the vagaries of the dice, but any plan is better than no plan. This is an apparently simple position and many would follow the […]

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