Bray’s Learning Curve: When in doubt

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 65?

2021 - Beginners 40


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 is favourite to win in this position through either blitzing or priming Red’s rear checker. Red has been given a glorious opportunity to turn the game in his favour by playing 24/13*.

This move leaves twenty-one hitting numbers but on the positive side fifteen numbers miss and leave Red in a strong position. As you can see from the rollout Red will win nearly 40% of the time by hitting and only 30% by making a passive play. Of course, Red will lose a higher percentage of gammons when thing go wrong but that should not sway Red from making the hitting play. Note also that Red owns the cube and that could prove to be a powerful weapon later in the game.

The oldest backgammon adage of all is “when in doubt, hit”. The more I play the more I see how useful it is to remember this saying. The rollout shows that any play other than hitting is a blunder.

Rollout Data from Extreme Gammon

Beginners 40 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






  1. Jim Wallace says:

    Should be 23 shots. All 2’s , 3’s, 11, 51

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