Backgammon Position #6

Here we are faced with a classic backgammon position, one which no expert player would ever get wrong but one where new players usually go wrong in one of two ways.

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The beginners analysis

Black does not redouble. He notices that he is likely to leave a shot and correctly worries about that checker being hit and consequently losing the game. Therefore he holds onto the cube and does not redouble until either he has cleared hist 10pt or left a shot that has been missed.

When black does redouble white will often pass. White will note that black may leave a shot, but that White will not be favorite to make the hit. He is 37 pips behind in the race and therefore he decides to pass on the redouble.

The expert analysis

Black thinks , “I have a large lead in the race so if I am not hit I should win this game. I leave a possible shot on the next roll with 61, 62, and 63. Good rolls are 11, 22, 33, 44, 55 and 54 – the good and the bad nearly cancel each other out. However, even if I have to leave a shot with something like 53 (played 10/5, 10/8) then my opponent will only hit one time out of three. Even if I have to leave a shot about 70% of the time this will mean that I only get hit 23% of the time. The position is highly volatile and it looks as if I will win close near to 77% of the time then I must redouble. Anyway, maybe my opponent will pass. I redouble.”

And White , “ Not very good as I am so far behind in the race. However, black will quite often be forced to leave me a shot and if I hit it I will be nearly certain of winning (especially when owning the cube). Will I hit a shot often enough to be able to take? Without showing all the calculations I believe I will. Also, in my playing experience, I have seen this position (or very similar ones) before and I remember that this is a take. It is interesting to note that I also remember that if black’s two men on his 10-pt were on his 9-pt this would be a borderline pass. I take.”

The rollouts show that the expert analysis is the correct one.

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Key Points

Calm objective analysis of the situation will help you make the right decisions more often than not.

Do not fear the cube getting to high levels even though there is a chance that you will lose the game – The ability to accurately redouble is essential to winning in backgammon.

You will need a big database of reference positions if you hope to become an expert backgammon player.