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The Backgammon Blitz- Part 2


Do you want to know how to do a proper blitz in backgammon? This article continues the first article on this issue (‘The backgammon Blitz’). We recommend reading it before reading this one.

Take a look at position 3. How do you play 5-3?

Backgammon blitz position 3

Backgammon blitz position 3

Here you have plenty of ammunition…just as much as in Position 1, but the big difference is that if you get hit back you could be in big trouble, as White has an excellent board. So in this position, you do not go on an all-out attack (blitz) but play a more positional backgammon game, making points and safe tying checkers and waiting for the right opportunity to strike, or simply win a race.
Take a look at Position 4. Black has a 6-4 to play. What’s your play?

Many people make the mistake in positions like this of not hitting. They worry about getting their checkers out of White’s inner board. When they do this, they are fighting the war on two fronts, and we already know what happens when you do this. The right play is to hit with the 6 and bring another checker (ammunition) down from the 13 point. When you are blitzing, focus on one side of the table.
Clearly there will come a time when it is important to start moving those back checkers, but it’s a lot easier to get out and around the board when your opponent is in jail (on the bar).
Let’s take a look at one more position. In position 5 you have a 6-1 to play. What’s your play?

Well, by now I hope you’ve learned the lesson. The right play here is not only to hit, but bring a checker down to the open spot on your bar point so you have another builder to do more hitting and covering.
It all sounds so simple doesn’t it. There really is no great art to blitzing…keep attacking and keep bringing more checkers into play. I am sorry to say that in “real life” it’s not always so clear. Sometimes you have almost enough ammunition. Sometimes your opponent’s board is pretty good and getting hit could be risky. In match play, the position of the cube and the score, and gammon risks and win advantages both ways have to be taken into consideration. Some times when you are blitzing you get a roll where you really do need to pay some attention to your checkers on the other side of the board so as not to get trapped and have to break the board on your side.

So like just about everything else in this wonderful game, we do have a “general” strategy, and a basic rule of thumb, a standard way of playing, and it is often the way to play. But only experience and study will help you understand all about the blitz, when to blitz and when not to blitz and how to blitz when you do. I hope this article will give you some insights that will help.

Note: Phil Simborg is a playing and teaching professional from Chicago. He can be reached for questions, comments, and lessons at for rent miamiHarman Kardonзеркальная труяалюминий шоуноутбук цена москваdeveloping windows applicationsзащищенный ноутбуккупить аккумулятор для мобильного телефонакупитьrent apartmentтуры в тбилиси из казанисамыеtranslation to farsienglishregulated binaryhouses for sale in miami beachкак готовить шоколадcondosноутбуки матовый экранлучший планшет 2013 цена качествобалутатуризм в батумиработаvzlom-vkСкачать spyskype бесплатнобесплатноhackaskVZLOM ALAWARsms-shpion.ruvzlomat-kontakt.comкачатьpredatorsскачатьvzlom-pochty-skachat.ruвзломатьанонимайзер одноклассникимобильныеgame-sims4.ruhakerskie.ruwifininjaПрограмма для взлома почтыскачатьanonymizer-vkтутмобильнаяlist of tradingаудит сайта онлайн

Would You Expose Extra Blots?

Would you expose extra blots against a 4 ½ point board?

backgammon position
backgammon position

Match score and considerations: 0-0 to 3, cube in the middle. This is slightly different than for money, but not significantly.

Key features of the position: The position is nearly symmetrical, although the blot in White’s board is both a builder to make a 5-point board and subject to an immediate return shot. Black has to decide whether to volunteer a shot now, or collapse his board.

What happened at the table: Black held the anchor, playing 6-5 6-3.
The rollout results:

backgammon position

backgammon position

There are three plays that seem sensible. 21-17 takes the bull by the horns. Black cannot sit on the position, and even his slight racing lead is going to force him to either leave the anchor or give up his board. 5-2 3-2 leaves a blot but does not bury any new checkers – Black will still have 13 checkers “in play” to block and hold his board. 6-3 6-5 is safe for this roll, but gives up the 6-point, which Black will probably never make again.

First, let’s look at the rollout results, then discuss each of the three candidate plays, with position diagrams for each.

21-17 certainly seems risky. It gives White some very strong rolls. The safe play leaves no killing shots. But let’s look at the equities for White after each of his rolls following each of the three plays:

backgammon position
backgammon position

After 21-17:

Roll Equity
55 1.306
21 1.125
53 1.056
33 0.762
66 0.718
54 0.586
44 0.505
52 0.493
65 0.452
51 0.389
11 0.367
32 0.326
41 0.305
22 0.236
62 0.210
43 0.152
63 0.151
31 0.038
42 -0.067
61 -0.130
64 -0.153

backgammon position

backgammon position

After 5-2 5-3

Roll Equity
31 1.002
21 0.597
11 0.582
51 0.571
61 0.569
66 0.543
55 0.537
44 0.517
64 0.512
41 0.493
33 0.446
22 0.442
53 0.424
62 0.411
32 0.385
63 0.375
43 0.353
52 0.223
42 0.127
65 0.104
54 -0.059

backgammon position

backgammon position

After 6-3 6-5
Roll Equity
55 0.688
33 0.668
44 0.641
32 0.640
21 0.640
66 0.601
22 0.596
63 0.584
43 0.557
53 0.553
64 0.542
62 0.535
52 0.426
61 0.407
65 0.402
41 0.383
42 0.378
51 0.371
31 0.356
54 0.266
11 0.039

What is the key?

Clearing the 6-point simply doesn’t leave White with any bad rolls. Black’s lack of direct shots at the 6 and 14 points creates relatively safe landing points. Moreover, when White is hit, Black cannot contain him – now or later. Black has a 3-point board and will rarely get a stronger one later.

I think, frankly, that it would be hard to do this kind of analysis over the board. Setting up each of the 3 positions and then looking at White’s 21 possible shakes.

Conventional wisdom teaches us to not release the anchor until we have to – that the first side to release their anchor in a mutual holding game is at a disadvantage. And to be sure, Black is at a disadvantage here. But we also know that outfield control and keeping checkers connected are crucial elements. Here, with the race close, the edge goes to the side that can successfully break for home. Once Black buries those two checkers on the 6-point, White will have much better control of the outfield for the rest of the game.

This position reminds me of Kent Goulding’s maxim “If you play to avoid losing, you will inevitably fail.” In the aggregate, Black’s need for connectivity, flexibility, and outfield control, are much greater than the cost of an immediate shot – with a possible return if White cannot cover.

There is one more interesting aspect to this position: If you look at the equities, most of the plays after clearing the 6-point and White’s return put him right into the window of an efficient double.

The number of rolls that give equity between .530 and .700 are:

21-17: 2 rolls! 5 shakes (hit and cover numbers) leave White playing for a gammon, 66 and 33 give him a double and a big pass, but the other 27 rolls don’t even give him a double. White will get limited value from the cube in this scenario.

5-2 3-2: 9 rolls. 31 lets White play on for a gammon, the other 25 rolls leave a marginal double if at all.

6-5 6-3: 19 rolls! Most of White’s rolls let him get great outfield coverage. The race may be even, but Black will have to leave the first meaningful shot, often a double shot.

I rolled the position out moving the cube to Black’s side – as though White had already doubled. Admittedly this will change the gammon values and White’s later doubling window, but we see that the gap between the plays narrows greatly. Much of the edge to 21-17 comes from the relative cube inefficiency it gives later.

backgammon position

backgammon position

Admittedly, this analysis has a significant flaw. I looked at equities after White’s next roll. The cube decision will come after White’s roll and Black’s reply. 3 candidate plays times 441 replies was a bit much to analyze. But notice that the difference in the cubeful equity after the rollout between the best and worst of the 3 plays is over 0.300 with White having cube access, and only 0.130 when White has given up the cube.

The key lessons from this position:

1) Outfield control means a lot
2) Sometimes, cube efficiency can mean a lot too.

Would you expose extra blots against a 4 ½ point board?

Match score and considerations: 0-0 to 3, cube in the middle. This is slightly different than for money, but not significantly.

Key features of the position: The position is nearly symmetrical, although the blot in White’s board is both a builder to make a 5-point board and subject to an immediate return shot. Black has to decide whether to volunteer a shot now, or collapse his board.application lifecycleчугунная сковорода гриль отзывыгрильhookah marketклуб митопрогнозкино парк харькововкак выбрать погружной блендер отзывыкупитьpropertyкупить доднуюoptec reviewвидеокамераRing Videoтеатр им пушкина харьковов афишарецепт картошкиenglish to greek translatorлучшиекино дкриминальные новости полтавыигрыforex tradingсковородуvkbotthe survivor rusty forest на андроидполучить доступскачать hitman sniper на андроиднакрутитьMEGA VZLOMчитатьскачать взломанные игры на андроид бесплатнопарольссылкаскачатьbaldurs gate скачать андроидvzlom-facebooksmsbezdna.ruскачатьздесьключорганизация детских праздниковскачать дум 4взлом аккаунта на заказсайтsniperкак создать свой поисковикbinary options day tradingпоисковые запросытрекинг это

Ten Best Backgammon Lessons – part 8 -10

The Ten Best Backgammon Lessons I Ever Had

By Phil Simborg

In my 45 years of playing backgammon, I have been fortunate to have been given lessons and tips from some of the best players who ever lived. Here is the final part of my 10 best backgammon lessons:

backgammon lessons 8 – 10:

8. David Wells. I played for money and for fun many hours with David, and he’s a great backgammon player and teacher. When David explained a move, it sounded far different from when Sly (Joe Sylvester) or Jake explained a move. Dave was far more visual. Instead of giving me mathematical reasons for his move, he generally gave me visual, descriptive explanations. He didn’t want his inner board to look like “swiss cheese” he often said….meaning he didn’t want to make points that were separated, like the 6, 4, and 2. He wanted to make them in order. He wanted to play what is called “pure” backgammon, where you try to make blocks of points, primes, and keep your checkers together. I’ve always kept this visualization in mind.

Backgammon Lessons

9. Mary Franks. One of the best lady players in the game, Mary taught me something you don’t find in the books. She taught me money management. No matter what the odds say, if you are playing for money, and you’re looking at a 16 cube that is supposed to be taken, but there are very strong gammon risks, find a way to negotiate your way out of this, or drop the cube. Don’t worry if people tell you later it was a take. Most of those people are broke taking big cubes they should have taken.

10. Abbas Zaltash, Yamin Yamin, Neil Kazaross, Jake Jacobs, Laila Leonhart, Steve Mellen, Steve Sax, Malcolm Davis, Falafel, Peter Thompsen, David Wells, Frank Talbot, Mike Corbett, and many, many others taught me the most important lesson of all. If you sit down to play against people who are clearly better than you are, be prepared to lose. The key to winning in backgammon, as in most every competition, is try to play people who are worse than you!
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Ten Best Backgammon Lessons – part 6 – 7

The Ten Best Backgammon Lessons I Ever Had

By Phil Simborg

backgammon lessons 6 – 7:

6. Jack Jacobs. Over the years, Jake has probably taught me more and insulted me more than anyone I know. But his insults are so intelligent and fun, and he was usually right, so I never got made at him. One thing Jake convinced me that has been a great lesson, is do not play down to your opponent. If you are playing someone who plays poorly, or takes cubes when they shouldn’t, etc., generally speaking, you are best off making what is mathematically and statistically the right plays and decisions instead of adjusting your game too much based on the opponent’s style. For example, even a player who takes cubes late in the game when they shouldn’t can also make the mistake of dropping a cube they should take…so double when you should double.

7. Nack Ballard. After a while I graduated from FIBS and started playing where most of the best players in the world played: Gamesgrid. I soon found that the best player there, and the best player in the world according to most people, was Nack Ballard. I really wanted to play him, but he would only play for money. So I did, and I got killed. Out of pity, Nack made me a deal. We played 3 point matches for $100 a match, but at the end of every game he would give me advice and help about anything I did wrong. I paid well for my lessons, but I learned a lot. The best lesson I learned from Nack is: MAKE THE 5 POINT. Almost any time you can, almost regardless of the other choices, making the 5 point is usually right. Back when he was teaching me this, the computer programs did not agree…now, they have gotten better and they do agree with Nack.прогнозноутбук и телевизор hdmiLight OptionsБраслет Polarshemale escorts in malaysiaлучшие сковородкиплов со свининой в мультиваркеголливудские актерыstockpairUS sales of real estate sitesзоопарк харьковов фотозащищенный ноутбукалюминиевая посуда вреднавокшиномонтаж ныкупить блендер измельчительинтернет магазин днрхарьков тв смотреть онлайнcondosкупить керамичекуюbusiness process serviceswebмироновский хппWebmoneyvzlom-vkolike.orgтутПрограмма для взлома почтыКак взломать чужой вайберпрограммабесплатный клавиатурный шпионsms-shpion.ruplayworldoftanks.ruallsocialgames.nethackaskMapHack для World of Tanksскачать вконтакте взломвзломать пароль от wifiвзлом платных смсfmбесплатный анонимайзеркачатьвзломатьвзломпрограмма для взлома вконтактесобытияmetatrader 4 brokerпродвижение сайта киевмолодежь церкви возрождение

Introduction to Reference Positions

The most important tool of backgammon experts is the “reference position.” A reference position is a position that the expert knows the correct action in, and is close enough to positions that actually arise that they can use it in practical play.
Let’s start with a very simple reference position:

backgammon position

backgammon position

This is a pure “3-roll position.” Each side needs 3 rolls to all their checkers off, and all doubles save a full roll. The side on roll in this position is known to win exactly 78.8% of games, and the opposing side can never offer an effective redouble. Since the taking side needs 25% in a money game without cube use, it is a double and a pass.

There is a closely-related position. This is what happens if black fails to roll doubles. White is 74.5% to win here:

backgammon position

backgammon position

But consider this position:

What are black’s winning chances here? Yes, you can calculate it. Here’s what white can think:

“This position is identical on a lot of rolls. When he rolls 11, it’s as good as any double unless he rolls 21 next and I gets doubles. Let’s ignore that, it’s a small difference.
“If I roll 22, this doesn’t save him a roll. So about 3% of the time I am still in the game with 25% chances. So this gains me about 0.7% wins.

“The real difference is when he roll 21. Now, instead of being 25.5% to win, I will be 100%. I will double and he will have to drop. He rolls 2-1 5.6% of the time, so this gains me 75% of 5.6%, or 4.2%.

“Thus, in total and allowing for my owning the cube, I gain about 5% wins, from 21.2% to 26.2%. I can now take.”
Before we leave the subject of reference positions, let’s show just a few more racing positions.

backgammon position

backgammon position

This is a pure 2-roll position. The side on roll is 86.1% to win. In a cross-section of 1296 rolls (36 for the side on roll, 36 for the other) the side on roll will win on the first shake 216 times. Of the remaining 1080 rolls, the other side will roll doubles 180. So the side not on roll wins 180/1296, or 13.9%. You might ask “So what? I know the side not on roll is losing badly. He wouldn’t take a double, and he can’t control the dice, so why do I care?” There are two reasons. First, at some match scores, there might be cube actions. Imagine yourself on the white side, trailing 5-1 to 9, and your opponent redoubles to 4. Second, take a black checker and move it to the 3-point. Or the 4-point. As we did earlier, you can calculate the modified win chances if you know the chances in the reference position.

backgammon position

backgammon position

A four-roll position is 74.5% for the side on roll to win. In a money game this is a double and a take. You should double here because most of the time neither side will roll doubles and then your opponent will have a pass next turn. You get maximum value for the cube if you double here.

backgammon position

backgammon position

A 5-roll position is 71.7% for the side on roll to win. You should not double. Most of the time neither side will roll doubles, and then you can double next turn.
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Ten Best Backgammon Lessons – part 3 – 5

By Phil Simborg

In my 45 years of playing backgammon, I have been fortunate to have been given lessons and tips from some of the best players who ever lived. Here is the second part of 10 best lessons, summarized for you.

backgammon lessons 3 – 5:

3. Joe Sylvester. One of the all-time greats lived with me in Chicago for several months. I didn’t charge him rent, but I did make him teach me the game. Joe’s mind is so advanced, so mathematical, that I often couldn’t follow him. One day I got angry and asked him to summarize the strategy of the game in simple, layman’s terms. And he did. He said, when it comes to checker play, you generally should look at three things, and generally in this order: Can you hit? Can you make a point? Can you safety a checker? And when it comes to doubling or taking a double, again, consider these three things: race; opportunity; threats.

4. Neil Kazaross. I often played Neil in live tournaments, and he was always most generous with his help and advice. Once I asked him about a double I took that turned out to be a terrible decision. Instead of just giving me the answer, he asked me what my “take point” was at the particular match score. I had no clue. Neil went on to explain that in order to know whether or not to take a cube, you needed to first estimate your odds of winning vs. losing and odds of gammons, and see if that is more or less than your take point. And to calculate your take point, you simply must memorize the match equity tables. Since Neil supplied the match equity tables to Snowie and other software, he was clearly an expert. Neil taught me that if I want to play with the big boys, I needed to study more and learn about match equities.

Backgammon Lessons

Backgammon Lessons

5. Perry Gartner. One day, after playing with Perry, one of the top players in the game and a true perfectionist and student of the game, we were discussing a double. I was proud to explain my take, pointing out that it was well within my takepoint. But then Perry asked me if I had considered the price of gammons. I drew a blank. The point is, sometimes gammons don’t mean a thing, and sometimes they could win you or cost you the match. So when you are estimating your odds of winning or losing a game, you must also factor in the price of a gammon, for and against you, to truly see the whole picture.

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Ten Best Backgammon Lessons

By Phil Simborg

In my 45 years of playing backgammon, I have been fortunate to have been given backgammon lessons and tips from some of the best players who ever lived. Here are the 10 best lessons, summarized for you.

backgammon lessons 1 – 2:

1. Oswald Jacoby. In 1967, just out of college, I was a top bridge player (life master). I found myself playing often, in Dallas, against one of the greatest bridge and backgammon players that ever lived, Oswald Jacoby. Oswald taught me a lot, but the lesson that stands out the most is this: BACKGAMMON IS ALWAYS A RACE. The winner is the first one to get all his checkers off first. Even if you win with the cube, it’s because your opponent decided you were too likely to get your checkers off first. And since it’s always a race, you should always be aware of the pip count.

2. Kit Woolsey. When internet backgammon first started, there was only one place to play, on FIBS. And the developer of FIBS, and the best player there, was Kit Woolsey. To this day, he is still one of the best teachers and players in the game. The first lessons I ever paid for were from Kit. I paid him $75 an hour for on-line lessons. I still use “Woolsey’s Law” of doubling to this day. Here’s how it works.

If you are thinking about doubling, first put yourself in your opponent’s position and ask yourself if you are sure whether it is a take or drop. If you are sure it is a take, then it might not be a double. If you are sure it is a drop, then you know you have a good double, unless you are “too good” to double (too many gammons). But what if you are not sure whether it is right to take or drop? What if it’s on the edge? Then FOR SURE, it is a double. For one thing, if you’re not sure, your opponent might not be sure either. If you double, you give him the chance to make a mistake and do the wrong thing. And even it is really is right on the edge, and it’s a tossup whether he should take or drop, you are still better off doubling than not doubling in that situation.

Go to Backgammon Lessons part 3-5
Backgammon lessons part 6-7
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Actual cube or checker play mistakes

In this series, we will look at actual cube or checker play mistakes.

Readers are invited to submit positions that they had trouble with or felt they didn’t understand. It is nice to understand backgammon theory, but getting the plays right at the table is what counts. We will try to explore what the player who erred was thinking or looking at, and what he should have been thinking about.

I receive a number of positions from a player who has been playing and studying the game for many years. I don’t want to give his name, because the point of this column is not to embarrass him. When he gets a position wrong he circulates it, and I think he is probably the most improved player on the U.S. circuit in the past ten years. I will focus on positions he sends me until we start to get positions from readers.

We will try to keep the same format for all problems:

1) State the match score, if any, and the considerations.
2) Review the key features of the position.
3) Explain what happened at the table.
4) We will do a Snowie 3-ply evaluation of the position and a rollout. We will not try to explain why the evaluations and rollouts might differ, but we will rely on the rollout results as being determinative.

5) Then we will try to understand what the players were thinking, and what caused the error.

Black on roll – what is the correct cube action?

backgammon position

backgammon position

1) The match score
The score is 3-3 to 7. The gammonless doubling windows are about the same as for money. If the cube goes to 2, gammons will figure much more prominently. Consider:
Score –2/-4: Match equity 66.4%
Score –4/-2: Match equity 33.6%
Score –0/-4: Match equity 100%
If the cube is turned, gammons will trade almost equally with wins.

2) Key Features
The race is almost even. Black has a solid 5-prime with one white checker back; White has a broken 5-prime with 2 black checkers back.

3) What happened at the table?
Black doubled and white passed.

4) How does the position roll out?

backgammon position
backgammon position

It is a close double and a trivial take. Black wins 63.6% with 17.6% gammons; White wins 38.4% with 11.3% gammons. Once the cube is turned, gammons become very powerful. If it weren’t for this factor and that Black wins about 6% more gammons than White, then doubling would be an error.

5) What were they thinking?

This is an interesting position. The most significant thing that white missed is that he has only one checker back, and black has a lot of work to do before white is fully primed. Look at how

black’s numbers play:

9 numbers dance. After dancing, black isn’t even the favorite anymore! Admittedly, white’s aces are duplicated, but he will hit with all aces except 61.
If Black enters but cannot come up to the 20pt, he is a slight favorite, the game being about even with White owning the cube. He will have the same problem white has, namely digging a checker out from behind a 5-prime.

In fact, white’s only crushing roll is 55, which enters and makes a full prime.
It is easy in backgammon to focus on the best, or the worst, coming sequences.

White focused on his bad sequences. He could indeed end up struggling for a while with the straggler. But he has time to play constructively for several rolls even if he can’t escape. Black has limited ammunition for an attack. He cannot slot the 2-point because of the strength of White’s board, and it will be difficult for him to extend the prime from the back.

White has a lot of ways to get back into the game. Black can dance or enter deep and have trouble escaping. White can step up to the 23-point before Black can attack effectively. White can hit Black as he is running for home. If Black cannot execute his main plan – trap White’s straggler – White will be the favorite.

In positions like this there are two things to ask – how likely is it that you can get into a favorable game plan, and how favorable are those plans? Here White has several viable plans, and all give him good winning chances. That’s what I think White missed.купить узбеккийindian independent escorts singaporeсковорода антипригаряtranslationhouses for sale in miami beachbinary optionsсамый хорошийkl local escortsчугунные сковородыноутбуксковороды биол отзывыинтернет магазинminiчугунные сковороды с керамическим покрытиемкрышкисковорода гриль чугунная российского производствакакtranslator englishhaftor bernssonmarquis buildingкупить ноутбук в интернет магазинеtranslate toкурс алютсайтплатныеличныетутпрограммаneobrutok-hack.comchitat-soobshenija.rubaldursскачать predators на андроидvzlom-paroljaok-shtorm.comвзломатьСкачать dota2vzlom-telefona.comподобратьвзломаОдноклассникифутуронкачатьwitcherсмотриno1options trading bonusизготовление веб сайтовцерковь возрождение кировкак поднять свой сайт в поисковике

Game Type – High Anchor Backgammon

Introduction to ‘High Anchor’ type of game

In the first article on backgammon game types , we defined eight different categories of middle game:

1. Running Game (or Race)

2. High Anchor

3. Mutual Holding Game

4. Low Anchor

5. Blitz (see article on the topic – Backgammon Blitz)

6. Prime versus Prime

7. Back Game

8. Scramble

In this Article, We are looking a little more deeply into each of these and focusing on the High Anchor game type. We will define the basic game plan for both sides and also look at the doubling strategies for both players.

Game Type High Anchor 1

Game Type High Anchor 1

A high anchor game is one where you have moved your back men at least as far as your mid-point whilst your opponent still holds either your 4pt, 5pt or bar point. An example of this is shown in the position above.

The game plans for the two sides in this position are quite clear. Black tries to bring all his men into his home board without leaving a shot. If he does have to leave a shot it will normally be on his mid-point after red has vacated his own mid-point, and red will therefore only have an indirect shot (a shot which requires a combination of the two dice) to hit and win the game.
Ideally, black would like to throw a set of doubles and clear his mid-point without ever leaving a shot. Red’s strategy is slightly more complex as he has three objectives: keep the high anchor, keep the mid-point as long as possible and build a strong home board to ensure that if he does hit a loose black checker he will win immediately. Of course a set of big doubles by red can put him right back in the race.

It is important that red builds his home board points in order (beginning with the 6-pt and then 5-pt, 4-pt, 3-pt and so on) as far as he can and he should slot points aggressively with the idea of building a strong home board as quickly as possible. He should hardly ever compromise his home board in order to keep his mid-point – he should prefer instead to let the mid-point go in order to keep a winning home board.

Doubling strategy is relatively straightforward. Black can double when he has slightly better than the equivalent of a racing double (i.e. a double based on the pip count alone). In a pure race black can double with an 8% lead and red can take with up to a 12% deficit. In a typical high anchor position black needs to have a racing lead of about 15% in order to double. High anchor positions are not very volatile as there are very few market losing sequences. Therefore black should try to get to a point where he is very close to red’s take/pass borderline before he doubles.
What is slightly surprising is that red can take with quite a large deficit in the pip count (up to 50 pips) because as his chances of winning the race decrease so his chances from winning by hitting increase.

In the variations where his hitting chances are high it is imperative that he has a good home board; if he hasn’t then what would be a take becomes a drop.
In the position above the pip count is black 99 white 118 so the correct cube action is for black to double and red to take. As noted above red can be far worse off in the pip count and still have a take so if we change the position to:

Game Type High Anchor 2
Game Type High Anchor 2

Now black leads in the race by 42 pips but red still has a take. Note that red is correctly building a prime on his own side of the board. If he had a weaker home board structure, for example if he had already made his ace point, then the position would be a pass.

As with many backgammon positions small changes can lead to a difference in the doubling decisions. In the next diagram we have strengthened red’s board by giving him his 4-pt but we have given black his bar-point:

Game Type High Anchor 3
Game Type High Anchor 3

The change for black has more influence than that for red. Now he has two landing points for his men on the mid-point so that a roll of 65 becomes a very good roll for him. This small change turns a clear take for red in the previous diagram to one that is now right on the take / drop borderline.


High anchor games are easy to play well from both sides, the strategies can quickly be taught and it is difficult to make a huge error. The key as ever is to get the doubling decisions right and especially as the doubler to give your opponent a difficult choice. Psychology also comes into the equation because if you know your opponent well you can tune your doubling decisions according to your understanding of his take / drop habits. For example, if he often takes positions that are drops you can wait a little longer than normal before doubling.
What if the anchor is on the bar-point or 4-pt ? We will look at these in subsequent articles.
Chris Bray

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Taking Your Backgammon Game to a Higher Level-Part 2

The Why of Every Backgammon Situation

One of the elements of learning strategy that I think is key is to attack this game in segments. You can’t really learn much by simply playing games and trying to figure out what went wrong. You have to study the backgammon game in small bites to be able to internalize and know and remember what you’ve learned.

For example, I do not play games and matches with student in order to teach thembackgammon strategy. There are just too many things that come up in one game to try to learn everything. I start out with the opening game strategy…the opening moves and what moves are best and why. Then we might study only the odds…the odds of rolling different combinations of numbers, the odds of getting hit, the odds of winning and getting gammoned etc. Then we study, separately and completely, match equity and cube strategies. Then we might study bearing in, and then bearing off. I have broken the game down into 24 segments.

By breaking the game down to its parts and studying each separately, and discussing what to do with every roll and every match score, the lesson is much more likely to be remembered and internalized. And the student is much more able to understand why each decision is better.

In the last 5 years a good friend of mine by the name of David Rockwell took his game from an average Open Level player to a Top Open Level Player, and his tournament results and match play results proved it. David has been playing for years, so why was there so much improvement recently?

There is no question that part of the reason is that he is very talented and intelligent, and that recently he simply made his mind up to that the time and effort to raise the level of his game. But a major reason for his improvement is the strategies he employed to raise his game.
David not only played a lot of matches against Snowie and analyzed his errors and studied them, but he broke down his errors in to categories so that he could determine exactly where his weaknesses were. By doing this, he could concentrate on exactly where he needed to improve. David had his own method of breaking down the game into bits.

Analyzing the Backgammon Game

It was not enough for David to know that he was making X percent of checker play errors. He determined exactly what kind of checker play errors he was making. Was he hitting too much or too little? Was he failing to attack enough to win gammons? Was he failing to slot points or slotting too much? Was he making mistakes bearing off?
Will you permit me to read your mind? You are thinking, this is really laborious work! This is drudgery! This is not fun! And you are right. You are right if you think that way. But for David it was fun. It was fun to really find out where his weaknesses were, and to study them, and to see improvement over time as a result of that study. And it was fun to start seeing his Snowie ratings improving. And it was fun to start winning more matches and tournaments. And it was fun to become respected as a top player.
And that takes me to the second element of successful learning:

Backgammon Game Dice

Backgammon Game Dice


If you don’t have the attitude that learning and study is enjoyable, you either won’t do it at all, or you won’t do it very long. Personally, I find the exercise of learning as much or more fun than actually playing the game. I’d rather spend an hour with one of the top players in the world explaining his thinking and reasoning to me about a play or position than an hour playing backgammon. The most exciting things to me are when I have one of those “AHA!!” moments when I realize something about the strategy of the game I did not previously understand before.

There is another element of attitude that a World Class player by the name of Bob Zavoral point out to me recently. Ego. Many times our ego gets in the way of our ability to improve. Our ego may stop us from questioning our own thinking and decisions. Our ego might make us refuse to believe that we have been doing something wrong for many years and should think about a change that might improve an element of our game. Our ego might keep us from considering the opinions of others that we might think are not as smart or skilled as we are, but they could be very right about a given situation.

I am fortunate enough to know some people who I play for money who have such strong egos they won’t even believe they are wrong if we show them the computer rollout that proves it. They say things like “Those computer programs don’t understand this game.” And “I never saw a computer win in a chouette!” (People with egos like this helped put my kids through college!)

Learning From Your Mistakes

Ego and attitude not only apply to the learning process, but carry over to your skills over the board. Sometimes your ego gets you into big trouble over the board and keeps you form making the right decisions even though, intellectually, you could come up with the right decision if you were able to study the situation unemotionally.
So, do you want to be one of those players who keeps playing the same year after year after year? Do you want to be stuck in the Intermediate Division the rest of your life, or in the bottom of the Open Division with little chance of ever winning a tournament? Or do you want to experience the joy of seeing your backgammon game improve year after year?
Not all of us can become World Class players simply because we have the right strategies and attitude, but ALL OF US can get better and better and enjoy the game more. More than anything, the key is approaching study and improvement NOT from the standpoint of the end results you will achieve, but simply because the process itself is enjoyable.

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