This week we continue to explore doubling. Black has just hit a lucky shot by playing 24/13* and white has danced. In the backgammon game from which this position was taken black redoubled and white very quickly dropped, outraged at the turn of events.
Backgammon strategy position
This is the first key lesson: emotion has no place in backgammon. If you start letting your emotions influence your decisions then you will lose quickly and often. Of course, this is easier said than done but if you look at any top player you will rarely see any display of emotion, perhaps a raised eyebrow at most.
Now let’s look at the position objectively using our criteria from the last position analysis article and evaluate both black’s and white’s doubling decisions.
Remember the four things to consider when doubling:
Race. White is 26 pips ahead before the roll. Significant advantage to white.
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 – enable him to make that fifth point. White is on the bar but note that black’s last checker has yet to escape. Overall, advantage to black.
Threat. Black has those 27 good numbers and so he has a significant threat. However note that if he fails to cover the blot white is favourite to enter and can then attack the black checker on his 1-pt (if it hasn’t escaped). Advantage to black.
Opponent. Remember that unless you are playing a computer you must 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 live 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.
The Key Lessons:
Don’t let emotion get in the way of your ability to analyse for that way lies ruin.
Take the time to see if you can win the position (at least) 25% of the time.
Always evaluate the gammon threat.
Remember to use the criteria above to evaluate doubling decisions.
Snowie evaluates the position as no double and take but it cannot evaluate the human factor. In practical terms this is a must redouble. However, as we have seen it is a comfortable take and in fact dropping, as white did, is a mega-blunder. Beware those emotions!