Brays’ Learning Curve: Security and Asset

2021 - Experts 40

Match Play. Red trails 4-6 to 11. How should Red play 22?   XGID=–ABaBCACa—-A-ac-c-ac-bB:0:0:1:22:4:6:0:11:10  Over the board Red chose the very safe bar/21(2)*. Given the score and the number of White blots this was much too passive. Red has the opportunity to secure an anchor with Bar/22(2) and then think about the other two twos.There […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Patience is a virtue

2021 - Intermediates 40

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 61? XGID=—–ACABA—B-AcabebbBB–:0:0:1:61:0:0:0:7:10 Red is playing a perfectly timed 2-3 back game. Unexpectedly White has left him an early shot. Should Red hit that shot or should he bide his time? It is tempting to hit with 23/17*, 6/5. The problem with that move is that Red only has eight […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: When in doubt

2021 - Beginners 40

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 65? XGID=–AABbD-C-C-aa—b-cbbb-A-:1:1:1:65:0:0:3:0:10 This is a type of position that I frequently see misplayed by beginners. Seeing the two blots in his home board Red decides that hitting with 24/13* is far too risky and chooses the waiting play 8/2, 6/1 or (better) 10/4, 8/3. This is muddy thinking. White […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Double Sixes

Basic Beginners 30

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 66?  XGID=-a–a-EBC—dC—cBdb—–:0:0:1:66:0:0:3:0:10 I often see this type of position misplayed so thought I would cover the topic. Computers have taught us that if you start the ace-point you should normally make it and so 7/1(2)* will be part of the solution. The most common error I see here is […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Too Many Choices

2021 - Experts 39

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 33?   XGID=a-BBBaCa—-bB–AAbccA-bA-:1:-1:1:33:0:0:3:0:10 This position came up in a group training session. There are a huge number of possible moves with Red’s double threes as there often are with small doubles. The majority of students wanted to hit with 13/7* and then think about the other two threes with […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: A Tricky Question

2021 - Intermediates 39

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 53?   XGID=-BB-B-C-b–B-B-b-cBbb-bb–:0:0:1:53:0:0:3:0:10 Red could play safe with 6/1, 4/1 but what will he do next time and meanwhile he has trashed his board. However, that play is better than 6/1, 4/1 which permanently kills two checkers. It may look close, but in fact 11/3 is a blunder and […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Always have a game plan

2021 - Beginners 39

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 11? XGID=–aBB-D-BA—A–Aacbcc-bB-:1:1:1:11:0:0:2:0:10 Red has to decide how he is going to win the game. There are two approaches. Firstly, he could try to blitz White with a move such as 6/5(2), 3/2(2)*. Secondly, he could try to prime White’s rear checker. Over the board the first approach was tried […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Game Tactics

Basic Beginners 29

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 51? XGID=-ba–aE-C—dEA–c-d—-A-:0:0:1:51:0:0:3:0:10 This is a demonstration that playing safe in the opening is rarely correct. The checkers need to be deployed to useful positions. Remember the basics: make new points, unstack the heavy points, get the back checkers moving and hit where possible. Over the board Red played 14/8 […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Monte Carlo

2021 - Experts 38

Match Play. Red trails 6-10 to 21. How should Red play 51? XGID=-BaBBBC—–bBc—-cBc-ba-:1:-1:1:51:6:10:0:21:10 This position is taken from Steiger (Red) versus Magriel (White) at Monte Carlo 1985. The game featured in the 1985 documentary on those World Championships. For the full video see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6x31m7ZGkgs Steiger chose to break his anchor with 20/15, 6/5 but we […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: A Blast from the Past

2021 - Intermediates 38

Match Play. Red trails 2-4 to 11. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? Unlimited Games. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? XGID=-bBB-aFBB——-Abccca—-:1:1:1:00:2:4:0:11:10 This position is taken from Jeff Ward’s 1982 book ‘Winning is More Fun’. Red was Nack Ballard and White was Kent Goulding and this was the final of the […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Stop and think

2021 - Beginners 38

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 62? XGID=-a—BD-B—dEa–d-e—-B-:0:0:1:62:0:0:3:0:10  Given that Red has the stronger board he can make a bold play so 13/5 is somewhat too passive. The choice is between the ‘regulation’ 24/18, 13/11 and the more aggressive 13/11, 13/7. The first play seeks to provoke action around White’s bar-point with the idea of […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Escape or Build?

Basic Beginners 28

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 42? XGID=aCDCD—–A———-bbce-:2:-1:1:61:1:2:0:5:10  This a binary choice. Make your 5-pt or step up with 23/21, 7/3? It might seem that Red has plenty of time to escape the rear checker but that is not the case. He has less than ten pips to play with if he doesn’t roll a […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Small Margins

2021 - Experts 37

Match Play. Red trails 2-4 to 7. How should Red play 52? XGID=—bBBBBB–AcAb-Ac-bb-AaA-:1:-1:1:52:2:4:0:5:10 This is a tricky position. I think if you play on automatic you will choose 24/22, 16/11. If you want to keep pressure on White’s blot on her 2-pt then 16/11, 13/11 would be the choice of many and that play is […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Back Game Strategies

2021 - Intermediates 37

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 54? XGID=aacbCBBBB-B—–aa-bbBb—:1:-1:1:54:0:0:3:0:10  White has a reasonably well-timed 2-3 back game and a home board that could collapse with a sequence of high numbers. Red could attempt to give White a super-timed back game by playing 21/17*, 21/16*. However, more important than this idea is to stop White from creating […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: An Early Problem

2021 - Beginners 37

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 64? XGID=-a–BaD-B—eE—Bccb—–:0:0:1:64:0:0:3:0:10 We can quickly reject 8/2, 6/2 which creates an ugly structure and one that is difficult to put back together again. Giving up the 8-pt to make the 2-pt is not a great trade. The choice is really between 13/3 and 17/13, 17/11. 13/3 keeps the defensive […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Combating a Prime

Basic Beginners 27

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 42? XGID=-a—-EBB—fD—abcb—B-:0:0:1:42:0:0:3:0:10 Our opponent has made their 5-point early on in proceedings and is on the way to building a useful prime. In these circumstances it is normally correct for us as Red to split our rear checkers in response to combat that prime. That would imply that Red […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Pick a game plan

2021 - Experts 36

Match Play. Double Match Point. How should Red play 32? XGID=-a-bBbD-BB–bB–Ac-e-B—-:1:-1:1:32:3:4:0:5:10  Small numbers often cause a problem in backgammon because they give you so much choice. This is compounded when the position is complex, and a back game is certainly that. This is DMP so the cube and gammons are irrelevant. Both players simply want […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Fundamental Tactics

2021 - Intermediates 36

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 53? XGID=-a–BCC-B—-Cba-d-g—-B-:1:-1:1:35:0:0:3:0:10    One of the fundamental backgammon tactics is this: “attack a lone rear checker, prime an anchor”. That piece of advice has stood me in good stead for a very long time. This position is a classic demonstration of how to apply that maxim. White is poised […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Make the Checkers Work

2021 - Beginners 36

Match Play. Double Match Point. How should Red play 21? XGID=–b—EBB-A-cB-a-cae—-BA:0:0:1:21:4:4:0:5:10 This is very similar to a previous beginner’s problem, but only by repeating ideas do we learn. At double match point, you cannot win with the doubling cube and gammons are irrelevant. That means you have to make the checkers work for you. You […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Third Roll Poser

Basic Beginners 26

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 51? XGID=—-b-E-C–AcD-b-c-e-A–A-:0:0:1:51:0:0:3:0:10  For the first and second rolls there are just under 600 possible sequences. Once you get to the third roll, you are into the thousands. Obviously, you cannot learn thousands of possible positions, so you have to learn principles to find solutions to particular problems. This position […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Complex DMP

2021 - Experts 35

Match Play. Double Match Point. How should Red play 55? XGID=-BBaBBA-B–Ab–A——A-A-:0:0:1:55:4:4:0:5:10 This is not an easy problem. Red can obviously close out White’s checker with 11/6, 8/3(2)*, and then move the other 5 somewhere else on the board. Red would then be a favorite to win the game but by how much? Red’s pip count […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Back Game Planning

2021 - Intermediates 35

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 33? XGID=–B–BC-c—-B-cAb-c-bBBbA:0:0:1:33:0:0:3:0:10 It is easy to get confused by the array of choices that we have as Red with double 3s. However, never make a move unless you have a plan. After the roll we will trail in the race by 52 pips, which is not enough to play […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: An Early Conundrum

2020 - Beginners 35

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 21? XGID=—b–E-C—cEa–b-eb–A-A:0:0:1:21:0:0:3:0:10  It is ever so easy to play bar/24 13/11 here without thinking. Sadly, that move is a blunder. Why? Red trails in the race. White has the better home board. Red faces a possible blitz. Red is exposed on both sides of the board. The correct game […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: When in doubt

Basic Beginners 25

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 41? XGID=—–aEaA–AdDa–c-e–A-BA:0:0:1:41:0:0:3:0:10   This game is in its infancy and the game plans for both players have yet to be defined. As Red, we could elect to play a 1-4 back game with bar/21 22/21, but it is too early to adopt a relatively negative game plan. We have […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Middle Game Thinking

2020 - Experts 34

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 42? XGID=–BaDaD—–BAa-bb-db-Bb–:1:1:1:42:0:0:3:0:10 This 42 is a very poor roll for us as Red. Every move weakens our position. However, we own the cube, so we have the right to play the game to the end. Can we afford to burn checkers by moving within our home board with something […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Scary Double

2020 - Intermediates 34

Unlimited Games. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take?   XGID=-BBcBBB-AA–e—-babA-b-AA:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10  It should be clear that Red has a huge double here, due to the volatility of the position. Not doubling would be a double blunder. Now the difficult part: Should White take or drop? If Red hits the exposed checker, which happens on 17 […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Learning Match Play

2020 - Beginners 34

Unlimited Games. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? Match Play. Red trails 0-1 to 3. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=a-CB-CBa—A-A—cccbBb-A-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 Early on in one’s match playing career you learn the difference between playing unlimited games and playing matches. In match play the score dominates one’s thinking, particularly towards the […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Connectivity-2

Basic Beginners 24

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 44? XGID=-a—-FbE—bD-a–bbbba—:0:0:1:44:0:0:3:0:10 Like an army, backgammon checkers work better when the soldiers are in communication with each other. In this position Red will be 31 pips ahead after the roll and all he wants to do is bring his checkers home safely. For once Falafel’s rule does not apply […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Complex Containment

2020 - Experts 33

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 54? XGID=–aB-BB-C—-AAA–bcCbcbb-:2:-1:1:45:0:0:3:0:10 Once again, we look at the complex problem of containment. In this position Red has to balance making new points with an element of safety. White’s five-point home board means that Red cannot take many risks or he will lose a gammon. That means he cannot spread […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Match Play Enigma

2020 - Intermediates 33

Match Play. Red trails 2-3 to 5.  Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=–baBBB-B—bE–ab-db–a-B:0:0:1:00:2:3:0:5:10 If this was an unlimited game this would be a grossly premature double. However, the 3-away vs 2-away match score is a very different story indeed. Once the cube has been turned White’s gammons become irrelevant and, of course, […]

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