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.
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When I first set this problem the answers to the two questions, using a 3-ply evaluation, were different but the rollouts tell a different story. Now the answer to both questions is

Should Red hit with bar/24, 11/8* to take a tempo away from White so that it is more difficult to make White’s bar-point?

The alternative is to play this position as a prime-versus-prime

I posted this position because I got it wrong when it came up in live play.

I routinely hit on the 2-pt with a 43 when my opponent has split the rear checkers with an ace on the opening roll.

Put the checkers where you want them. Two of the aces must be used to make Red’s 5-pt. They could then continue on to make the 4-pt instead but that is a much weaker structure than the 5-pt. 

After playing this 55 Red will still trail by 80 pips. To play a well-timed 1-2 back game you need to trail by approximately 94 pips (the value in pips of your two anchors). That means Red

This one is not easy. The  ‘natural’ move is to play 8/4(2), 6/2(2) but that position is very stiff with every point bar one stripped. 

In this instance connectivity

Red can play this dice roll completely safely by moving 5/3, 5/2 or he can take some risk with either 5/off or 3/off, 2/off.

It should be clear that 3/off, 2/off is much better than 5/off.

Over the board 14/8 was played but this is the wrong idea in this position. It is safe for the moment but leaves Red with three inflexible stacks of checkers and he is very unlikely to be