An Objective Viewpoint
Gaby Horowitz and Dr. Bruce Roman, 1980
Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine, June 1980
The position illustrated in Diagram 1 occurred in the early rounds of the Championship flight of the 1979 American Backgammon Championships in Las Vegas.
Diagram 1.
Black to play 2-1.
Gaby was ahead 9–6 in the 11 point match. Mike Senkiewicz, one of the top players of the Mayfair, was moving the white pieces.

Having rolled a 2-1, it seemed correct to reflexively make the 4 point (Diagram 2). Upon further study, however, this move can be seen to leave one in a most inflexible position.

Diagram 2.
After 6/4*, 5/4.
The main consideration in this position is safety — not speed or the esthetics of a prime. Black needs only to bring his men in and bear off without any accidents to win the match. (He is substantially ahead in the race.)

Wouldn't you, as White, like to establish an anchor on the opponent's 2 point from which to wait for shots? Giving White a chance to establish that anchor is taking unnecessary risks. Knowing Mr. Senkiewicz's ability to play the position correctly and leave the man on the 2 point as long as possible, the chosen move of breaking the bar point (Diagram 3) can be seen to be much safer for the long run. Additionally, this leaves builders poised to either point on the blot on the 2 point or to pick and pass in an effort to move him forward in the inner board.

Diagram 3.
After 7/5, 7/6.
After Gaby won the match we saw a group of Mayfair players studying a position that Mr. Senkiewicz was showing them. Satisfying our curiosity we discovered that he was showing them the position illustrated in Diagram 1. Characterizing the move of breaking the bar point as hopeless, he was lamenting his "misfortune" of losing to a player who would make such a terrible move.

Perfectly willing to admit his error if the chosen move was incorrect, Gaby studied the position again. Further study, however, only reinforced the observation that breaking the bar point is clearly the indicated play.

When intermediate and weak advanced players have digested the available written material on backgammon and have a desire to further develop their prowess in the game, they turn to the masters and experts for guidance. Mr. Senkiewicz is an expert and his opinion is highly regarded in the backgammon milieu. This is a clear example, however, that not even experts can always remain objective when they are personally and/or emotionally involved in the position under discussion.

The lesson to be learned is that to obtain valid information at least one of the two following conditions must exist:

  1. The master or expert analyzing the position is not personally involved in the position being discussed, or

  2. He exhibits no adverse emotional involvement that might cloud his objectivity.

This latter condition is as unique for the expert to possess as it is for the student to find.

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