Backgammon Position #9

In this article we are going to continue to take a look at the world of doubling. Black has just managed to hit with a lucky shot by playing 24/13* and white has danced. In the actual game from which this position was taken black redoubled and white very dropped quickly being outraged at the way the game went.


This leads us to the first important lesson. There is no place for emotion when playing backgammon. If you allow emotion to creep into your game you will end up losing games quickly and often. This maybe easier to say then to do, but trust me you will rarely see a top backgammon player showing signs of emotion.

Now let us take a look at this position objectively using our criteria from the last article and evaluate both black’s and white’s doubling decisions.

Remember the four things you need to consider when doubling:

The Race.

White is 26 pips ahead before the roll. This is a big advantage to white.

The Position.

Both sides have four point boards. In fact has black a 4½ point board and is threatening to make it a five point board. Any 6 or 4, a total of 27 rolls will allow him to make that fifth point. White is on the bar but note that black’s last checker still has to escape. Overall the advantage lies with black.

The Threat.

Black has 27 good numbers and so he has a significant threat. However note that if he does not cover the blot white is favourite to enter and can then attack the black checker on his 1-pt (if it has not escaped). Advantage black.

The Opponent.

It is important to remember that unless you are playing a computer you have to take your opponent into consideration. How will he/she react to being doubled? Is he/she someone who drops takes or conversely takes drops? We have already seen that white did drop this redouble in the actual game.

Also remember that the generally accepted view is that you should consider doubling if you are ahead in two of the first three elements and use the fourth element to help you make your final decision.

Here black is ahead in two of the three elements and we know that white may drop the redouble. It is crystal clear that in practical terms black should redouble.

What about the take/drop? White should analyse as follows:

  • Even if black makes his 4-pt I will still re-enter immediately one time in three. With my lead in the race and my four point home board I am certainly still in the game.
  • On the 9 rolls he fails to make the point. I get a direct shot on three numbers (55, 52 and 25) and I am also favourite to enter immediately. Given my lead in the race these nine misses by black are very good for me.
  • The gammon threat is minimal.
  • All in all I think I can expect to win at least 25% of the time from here.
  • I take.

Key Points

  • Do not let emotion get in the way of your ability to analyse the game.
  • Do take the time to see if you can win the position (at least) 25% of the time.
  • Always evaluate the gammon threat.

Snowie evaluates the position as no double and take but it is unable to evaluate the human factor. In practical terms this is a definite redouble. However, as we have seen it is a comfortable take and in fact dropping, as white did, is a major mistake.