Bray's Learning Curve

Each week, author Chris Bray lends his sharp insight and easy-to-understand analysis to help you improve your game. 

Chris is the author of multiple backgammon books, including Backgammon for Dummies, and is the backgammon columnist for The Times of London. 

Expert Backgammon Player and TeacherChris Bray Photo

A New Puzzle Every Week

Every Monday Chris posts an interesting backgammon position on our Facebook page.  We encourage you to join in the lively discussion and return here to our website on Tuesdays to read his extended analysis. 

Bray’s Learning Curve in-depth analysis is one of the great benefits of a USBGF membership.
Explore by topic:
Explore all (in date order):

This position is taken from Bill Robertie’s third book in the series, “How to Play the Opening in Backgammon”. The book is subtitled “Order from Chaos”.

All three books are excellent

At first sight this looks to be a crushing double. Red has twenty-eight numbers to hit a White blot. He already leads by twenty-two pips in the race and there is a very real gammon threat.

A graphic illustration of the difference between money and match play.

In unlimited games having given away the cube Red must play with some caution. The correct play is to make White

This is difficult because there are so many options.

We are taught to attack a lone rear checker and here we can do that with 8/1*. With ten checkers in the attack zone that is certainly

Red opened with 61 and White replied with 33. How should Red now play this 21?

White has both a blitzing and a priming structure. Meanwhile a blitz is out of the question for Red and priming

With an even race it is unlikely that Red will end up playing a backgame. 

With four rear checkers he should not be giving up his mid-point as that destroys a vital communication

This is an easy problem if you have been taught the right technique but very difficult if you have not.

There are three candidate plays: (a) 22/13; (b) 6/1, 5/1 and (c) 13/4*.

Racing when

There are four candidate plays in this position: (a) 13/7*, 8/7 (b) 8/7*/1 (c) 8/2*/1 and (d) 11/5, 6/5

There is an old saying in backgammon that once you have started the ace-point then