Forum Archive : Terminology

"Cube provocation play"

From:   Chuck Bower
Date:   13 April 2007
Subject:   Cube provocation play - definition
Forum:   GammOnLine

> How would you define "cube provocation play"?

This is how I would define the term:

    A checker play which (A) has the highest cubeful equity, (B) gives the
    opponent a correct double, and (C) is superior to at least one play
    which does not give the opponent a correct double.

Is that understandable? Anyone have a better way of saying this?

Matt Cohn-Geier  writes:

You're probably going to want to put in something like "and the player
would have a correct take". Otherwise we run into situations where the best
play is double but worse plays are too-good-to-double. Are those cube
provocation plays? Maybe, but they're certainly not of the kind that give
your opponent an inefficient double.

Fabrice Liardet  writes:

A cube provocation play strives for volatility and creates market losers
for the opponent, big enough for him to have a correct double, but a double
that is very far from our take point. The idea is that it will force the
opponent into a suboptimal double, while a small play that is equivalent or
slightly better cubeless will allow the opponent to hold the cube until he
has a double that is closer to optimal (optimal = at our take point). It
sounds a bit paradoxical, but we forced the opponent into a double that,
though correct, we want him to send.

Raccoon  writes:

I don't agree with Chuck's definition. I think such situations are rare,
and the more likely case of "cube provocation" is when an inferior play
provokes an incorrect double.

The single Google hit for that phrase is a reference to Vision Laughs at
Counting. There are no hits in r.g.bg, either -- that surprised me.

Kleinman's discussion starts by ironically defining "cube provocation play"
as "an egregious error in backgammon" ... "for what can be worse than to
play your roll in such a way as to draw a double from your opponent, when
an alternate move would restrain him from doubling? In a similar vein, we
may call an exceptionally unfavorable roll a 'cube provocation roll'."

Then he notes that "avoiding cube-turns" is a good guideline -- if Opponent
will cube after Play A but not after Play B, then you should make play B.
Then he notes what he calls the "obvious" exceptions:

(1) If Play A gives Opponent a double/pass and Play B makes him too good to
Double, then of course you should make Play A.

(2) If Play A will provoke Opponent to incorrectly double, then you should
make Play A if your D/T equity after Play A is higher than your ND equity
after Play B.

(3) Jacoby Paradox bearoffs -- if your position is

020100 vs. 010010

and you roll 4-1, then you should play 4/off, 2/1, not 4/3/off. After 4/off
2/1 Opponent will double, you'll take, and cash if he misses. After 4/3/off
Opponent won't double, but you'll lose more money.

And then he wonders if -- other than these exceptions -- there are any
times when it's correct to walk into a correct double/take instead of
making the play that avoids a cube?

Bob Koka  writes:

How about this one?

    X to play 6-1:

     24  23  22  21  20
    | O   O   O   O   O     |   |                       |
    | O   O   O   O   O     |   |                       |
    |             O   O     |   |                       |
    |             O   O     |   |                       |
    |                       |   |                       |  +---+
    |                       |   |                       |  | 1 |
    |                       |   |                       |  +---+
    |                       |   |     X                 |
    |                       |   |     X                 |
    | X       X   X       X |   | X   X                 |
    | X   X   X   X   O   X |   | X   X                 |
      1   2   3   4   5   6       7   8

The big play is 8/2, 6/5. If it works I think a cash for X. O has 20 shots
giving a big advantage with a small gammon chance. I think it may be last-
rollish enough to be an initial double from the bar.

The safe play is 8/2, 8/7. X would definitely be losing but definitely not
a cube for O. Equity seems to be lower than the big play.

Raccoon  writes:

Your example is a good one.

After 8/2, 6/5*, O should double. The double rolls out 2-ply to about: ND =
+0.072, D/T = +0.122.

After 8/2, 8/7, O should not double, but has ND equity of about 0.300.

An interesting point: by playing 8/2, 6/5*, X gives O a very inefficient
double and gives himself a very efficient redouble when White misses.

There is some similarity in those cube actions to the 020100 vs 010010
bearoff position. There, 4/off, 2/1 gave O a very inefficient last roll
redouble. 4/3/off prevented that redouble for fear of X's very efficient
redouble to 8 when O misses (despite that fear, however, X is better off
winning 47% of the time with the cube on four than 34% of the time with the
cube on 8!).
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     



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