How Little We Know
"Jersey Jim" Pasko, 1980
Gammon Magazine, Winter 1980
This interesting position developed in a game I was recently involved in.
White to play 5-4.
After discussing the problem with many of the top players, I collected a number of different solutions which were basically as follows:

  1. 23/14
  2. 22/13
  3. 23/18, 22/18
  4. 10/6, 8/3
  5. 10/1

The interesting thing about this position is that each play leads to a completely different game plan. Furthermore, after doing lengthy statistics on the problem and becoming quite confident on the order of solutions from best to worst, I noticed some startling facts. The first choice of the great majority of the top players was most likely the worst solution and the two choices selected least often were in fact almost certainly the two best choices.

I think this points out very vividly what the top player do know, and that is how much we really don't know about the game. This is what makes backgammon the great game that it is.

Think about the above position, and if possible, play out the various alternatives as many times as possible. Try the solution chosen by most of the best players: 8/3, 10/6. This is the poorest option available. After examining the alternatives, there is little question that making Black's bar is the best play.

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