Let’s take a look at Illustration 1 below. Black has to play 2-2, and he has two choices: he can move the two checkers off his 4 point to his 2 point and then take 2 checkers off, or he can take 4 checkers off.
If you move the checkers off your 4 point, there is no chance that you will leave a blot and get hit, so you will certainly win this game 100 percent of the time. But if you do that, you only get 2 checkers off instead of 4, and White is a lot more likely to get off the gammon.
If you take 4 checkers off, you will certainly win more gammons, but you might lose more games. So the question is, how many more gammons will you win by taking the extra 2 checkers off, and how many more games will you lose if you do that?
Don’t feel bad if you cannot come up with those answers. I have shown problems like this to some of the best players in the world, and even they are not able to come up with definitive numbers, but they are able to “estimate” fairly well. The point is, all you have to do is decide if the additional gammons are more than twice as many as the losses.
backgammon bot, if Black takes 4 checkers off he is going to win this game about 99.9 percent of the time. If he plays safe, he wins 100 percent of the time, so by taking the “riskier” play he is only risking one tenth of one percent!
Now, how many more gammons does he win? Again we look to Snowie for the answer, and it tells us that if we take 4 checkers off we win gammons about 22 percent of the time, and if we make the “safer” play we win gammons about 8 percent of the time. So in this situation, the decision is simple: pick up an extra 2 points 14 percent of the time or lose the 4 points (when you turn a win to a loss) one tenth of one percent of the time. It would be foolish to play safe, or just take 2 checkers off in this position.
Now let’s take a look at Illustration No. 2. This is very similar, but Black has to play 3-3. Again, he can move his back checkers forward and take 2 off and be guaranteed not to leave a shot, or he can take 4 off. There are some big differences between this position and the first one, however. Before I list those differences and how they affect the decision, see if you can come up with them for yourself, and then read on.