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 James Vogl’s excellent new book, “Backgammon – Super Genius Quiz” (available on Amazon).

Take twelve of the best players in the world. Give them one hundred

Because there are so many choices with Red’s 31 this look like a difficult problem but ,in fact, it is straightforward.

White has a well-timed back game and Red will struggle to change

White’s timing for the 2-3 back game is excellent. Ideally you need to trail by the value of the two back game points. Here that would be 90 pips so White is close to perfection, especially

Many choices here. Should one play for safety, if so how, or bear off aggressively?

Unless hit, Red should comfortably win a gammon, so safety is likely to dominate over and above ripping

A simple third roll problem? We should know these, but of course we don’t!

No need to panic so the anti-thematic 6/1* can quickly be discounted.

We need to split but 24/23, 13/9 is also

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.