What Did I Miss?
Robert Hickey, 1981
Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine, March 1981
As a weak intermediate-level player, I often find myself confused by various plays in expert circles and current backgammon literature. The latest, from Labins's and Jerauld's book, Competitive Backgammon Volume 1, is only the third move by Lee Genud in a nine-point match (Game 1, page 7).
Black to play 6-1.
Diagram A shows the placement of the pieces after her move. I would have chosen 13/7 instead of 24/18 and produced Diagram B.

Diagram A. After playing 6/5*, 24/18.
Diagram B. After playing 6/5*, 13/7.

As I analyze it, her half-move 24/18 (Diagram A) gives up the one-point anchor prematurely, duplicates her own 3's, doesn't fight for her five point — the number one priority here — and gives her opponent too much flexibility. Her opponent, if he enters (an 8-to-1 favorite to do so), will hit on the five point (with a 5 or 4), the eighteen point (with a 1, 3, or 6), and with double 2 on the five point.

The other play, 13/7 (Diagram B), maintains the defensive one point and forces the opponent to throw a 4, 5, or 6. All other plays, except double 6's, are giving Black a wonderful opportunity to establish a strong block. In addition, in a hitting contest, he has that possible 2 to fight for the five point. On the other hand, 5-2, 2-5, and double 2 are much better for her opponent now. However, on balance I still prefer building than splitting.

Unfortunately, the authors do not discuss the merits of either play, the relative strength of the opponent, or the psychological pressure this early in a match (such as Barclay Cook did in Championship Backgammon and I am left a little lost . . . what did I miss?

Gaby Horowitz and Bruce Roman reply to
Bob's question in their article:
The First Step in Learning

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