A Backgammon Lesson

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The backgammon position below is a great lesson. White is losing 0-1 in a match to 3 and has to play 5-4.
What is the right play?

backgammon position

backgammon position

According to Snowie, the right play is clearly to make your opponent’s 5 point and then hit off the ace. The other logical plays to consider are: making your opponent’s 5 point and hitting off the 3; or simply making your own 3 point.

More important than making the right play, it is important to understand the thinking process that goes into making the right play. My good friend, and great player, Perry Gartner, puts it this way:
Hitting on the 3 may drive your opponent back, start a fairly valuable point given where the rest of your checkers are, and doesn’t place a blot on the ace point, a not particularly desirable place to have a checker at this stage. But is it worth the risk of sending a checker back? This play warrants invoking the Magriel Safe vs Bold criteria.

Using the Magriel Safe vs Bold criteria- you should know these basic ones, and in case you don’t: 4 tactical ones are:

1. Do you have an advanced anchor?
2. How strong is your opponents inner board?
3. How strong is your inner board?
4. Does your opponent have blots in his inner board that may be vulnerable for a return hit in case you get hit back?

2 strategic ones are:

1. How many checkers do you have back? Will getting more back hurt, help or be neutral in the long term?
2. How many checkers does your opponent have back? One back warrants more of an attacking mode.
I would add to these the strategic criteria – How good is the race? If you don’t hit how uncomfortable are you with where the checker goes?

The only thing I would add to Perry’s remarks are: What is the score, where is the cube, and how does that influence the play? In other words, is getting gammoned, or getting a gammon, a strong consideration? Is getting doubled, or being able to double soon influence the play?
If you think through all of these aspects clearly, you should decide to hit off the ace point, as Snowie does!
Do you still think backgammon is a simple game???? Just look at all you have to think about when making a fairly common, simple play in the middle of a game!

The backgammon position below is a great lesson. White is losing 0-1 in a match to 3 and has to play 5-4.
What is the right play?

backgammon position

backgammon position

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