Bray’s Learning Curve: Deep Thought

Match Play. Red trails 2-4 to 5. How should Red play 44?

2021 - Experts 41

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This is a complex problem. The key is to determine the correct game plan and then find moves that support that plan.

Trailing by 36 pips after the roll means that Red cannot give up his ace-point anchor as that surrenders a lot of long-term equity.

The game plan is to constrain White’s remaining rear checker. To do that Red ideally needs to make his 2-pt and 3-pt. Red could play 7/3(2) with two of the fours to cut down shots but crucially that lets White escape with sixes, a number that does not play well on her side of the board.

So, the ace-point anchor must be kept, as must Red’s bar-point. That means the checkers on White’s 5-pt will have to move. The safest play is 20/12(2) but can Red do better than that? After all, losing a gammon is irrelevant at this score.

In fact, Red should play 20/16, 20/8 with the idea of making his 2-pt, 3-pt or 8-pt. If White rolls a one or a two she is still not certain to leap Red’s four-point prime so Red will retain significant winning chances.

If White does not roll a one or two she can quickly get into trouble.

After 20/16, 20/8 Red is actually the favourite to win the game! To quote an old backgammon maxim: “put them where you want them”. 20/16, 20/8 does precisely that. Even in a money game that would be the correct play.

Rollout Information from Extreme Gammon

Experts 41 Rollout

 

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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

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