Kit Woolsey Revisited
by Phil Simborg, 2008
Thanks to Bill Davis for giving away copies of old Chicago Point Newsletters, I was looking through the May, 1993 issue and came across Kit Woolsey's Problem #192. It's DMP and Black to play 4-1.

Double match point
Black to play 4-1

I looked at the problem and was curious about three things:

  1. I remember getting this one wrong when I read it in 1993, and I wondered if I had remembered the lesson and would get it right today;

  2. I wondered if the latest version of Snowie (4.6, 2007), rolled out, would confirm Kit's analysis;

  3. I wondered if my friends who might have read the newsletter have learned anything themselves over the years.

Well, I know the answer to 1 and 2. I honestly did get it right this time, but I have to admit I wasn't 100 percent sure I got it right until I checked the answer. I also can't tell you if I got it right because I'm a better player today, or if I just happened to remember this position from 14 years ago when I read it.

The answer to the second question is yes, as you can see to the right. The latest version of Snowie agrees with Kit's reasoning 14 years ago. The best play is still 7/3, 2/1*.

I think the play I liked 14 years ago was what Kit called the "brute force" play: 24/23, 5/1*. I might still make that play in a money game, depending on where the cube is and what the stakes are and who my opponent is. Some people I play would give me the cube if I did that (it would be Double/Take, by the way). Some people I play would be totally destroyed if I made that play and they failed to hit me and, of course, destroying your opponent is one of the real pleasures one can experience in this lovely game of backgammon.

The answer to the third question I leave to you. Would you have played this correctly?

I will leave you with the final words in Kit's original analysis: "From a thematic standpoint, the natural looking play is very often the best one. This appears to be the case with Problem #192."

Phil Simborg is a fulltime backgammon player and teacher.
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