Bray’s Learning Curve: Last checker premium

2021 - Experts 44

Match Play. Red trails 0-1 to 11. How should Red play 32? XGID=—-a-D-Cb—C—-AAcCbeb-:1:1:1:32:0:1:0:11:10 It might seem clear here to play 19/16, 18/16 to block White’s sixes from her 16-pt. That is certainly the obvious move, and it is what was played over the board. However, if you have read Bill Robertie’s latest book “Everything Matters” […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Short-term Risk

2021 - Intermediates 44

Match play. Red leads 2-1 to 5. How should Red play 52? XGID=a–aaBCAC—AC-A—bccAbb-:1:1:1:52:2:1:0:5:10 This is a question of taking a short-term risk to establish a long-term again. Red could play 22/17, 7/5 with apparent safety but how will he bring all those outfield checkers home? The answer to that question is – with extreme difficulty […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: The Guff

2021 - Beginners 44

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 55? XGID=—b-BC-C-AAdCa–c-e—-B-:0:0:1:55:0:0:3:0:10 Back in the 1970s nobody made their ace-point, known as ‘the guff’, and if you did you were laughed at. Such a play was regarded as impure. Nowadays we know better. The ace-point can be a useful asset. In this position Red will shortly have to get […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Follow the Basics

Basic Beginners 34

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 21? XGID=—-a-EbC—dE–Ac-e—-A-:0:0:1:21:2:3:0:9:10 You cannot play successful backgammon without continually taking balanced risks. This week’s position is a classic example. Over the board Red made the ‘safe’ play of 16/13. True it is safe for one roll but the key question to ask yourself is ‘what next?’ Red’s game plan […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Triple Whopper

2021 - Experts 43

Match Play. 6-6 to 9. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=–bBB-C-C—cB—bceB—A-:0:0:1:00:6:6:0:9:10 I posted this position to demonstrate what pressure can do to even good players. This is from the World Team Championships in Trier a couple of weeks ago. Red had recovered from 0-6 down and now at 3-away vs. 3-away he […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Which Point?

2021 - Intermediates 43

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 31? XGID=–B-a-C-B—eCa–c-e-AAAB-:0:0:1:31:0:0:3:0:10 This is a very common type of problem. Which point or points should Red make in White’s home board? Red’s own home board is very weak, and he needs time to construct something more useful. This game has a long way to go. Red can make the […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Safety First

2021 - Beginners 43

  Unlimited Games. How should Red play 52? XGID=-b—-E-D–AdCa—-dbb-AA-:1:1:1:52:0:0:3:0:10 Safety First Red has been doubled and is in trouble. White owns ‘the rack’ (her 4-pt, 5-pt and 6-pt) which is very powerful. Red cannot afford to play loosely and leave blots lying around. He would like to make a decent anchor and the only one […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Asset vs Race

Basic Beginners 33

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 32? XGID=-a—AD-C-a-dE-a-c-eA—A-:0:0:1:32:0:0:2:0:10 This is a common opening problem. Should Red hit, if so where, or should he take the asset of the 5-pt? Let’s deal with the hit question first as that is quite clear. If hitting he should play 20/15*. This gains the most ground in the race […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s learning Curve: Complex Back Game

2021 - Experts 42

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 43?   XGID=-a-aBBC-CBA-b–a–bbbbb-B-:0:0:1:41:0:2:0:5:10   Back games can be horrendously difficult and this one certainly isn’t easy. White has more than enough timing and he will hoping to release his checkers on Red’s 5-pt and then play a well-timed 1-3 or 2-3 back (the latter is better). With so many […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: The case of the missing 6-pt

2021 - Intermediates 42

Unlimited Games. Should Red double? If doubled, should White take? XGID=–BCBB-a—B-AA—-abBcdd-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10 This is a very deceptive position and many a player of the White checkers would drop this double, seeing no hope of getting her checkers home and fearing a gammon. After all, Red only misses with 55 and 53. However, If Red hits the […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Checker Development

2021 - Beginners 42

  Unlimited Games. How should Red play 21?   XGID=–a—EaB–AdD-a-c-e—-BA:0:0:1:21:0:0:3:0:10 When in doubt, hit is a well-known backgammon maxim. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and this is one of them. Bar/23, 8/7* achieves very little while at the same time substantially weakening Red’s position. Red is behind in the race and this […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Counter-prime

Basic Beginners 32

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 62? XGID=—bBBD-C—-B-aacbd-b-B–:0:0:1:62:0:0:3:0:10 This is all about understanding Red’s game plan. White’s plan is simple, she will attempt to make her 5-pt next time and she is nearly a favourite to do that. Red must assume that White will make her 5-pt and plan accordingly. That means he should set […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Deep Thought

2021 - Experts 41

Match Play. Red trails 2-4 to 5. How should Red play 44? XGID=-aAABBBB-A——-bbcBcbbB-:1:-1:1:44:2:4:0:5:10 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 […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Outer Board Control

2021 - Beginners 41

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 64? XGID=—–bE-B–B-C—ddeB-A—:0:0:1:64:0:0:3:0:10   Red trails by twenty-nine pips after the roll but has superb control of the outer boards. Meanwhile thirteen of White’s checkers are in stacks on only three points. The key to this position is for Red to keep that outer board control. For that reason a […]

[Read More...]

Bray’s Learning Curve: Simple Connectivity

Basic Beginners 31

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 52? XGID=-a—-E-C–AfD—c-e-A–A-:0:0:1:52:0:0:3:0:10 A classic second move problem. How should Red play this 52? The two is very clear 13/11, making an important outer board point. The question is how to play the five. There are three choices: 6/1*, 21/16 and 13/8. 6/1* usefully takes a tempo from White but […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]

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 […]

[Read More...]