Forum Archive : Strategy--Backgames

Checker problem

From:   David Montgomery
Date:   22 May 1995
Subject:   Re: Backgame problem #3
Google:   3pp2ku$

      24  23  22  21  20  19      18  17  16  15  14  13
     | X       O           O |   |     O   O   O      X  |
     |         O           O |   |     O                 |
     |                     O |   |                       |
     |                     O |   |                       |
     |                       |   |                       |
     |                       |   |                       |
     |                       |   |                       |
     |                       |   |                       |
     |                 X     |   |     X      X          |
     |         O   O   X   X |   |     X      X          |
     |     O   O   O   X   X |   |     X      X   X   X  |
       1   2   3   4   5   6       7   8   9  10  11  12

    X needs 8, O needs 8.  O owns cube on 2.   X to play 6-3.

Thanks to Kit Woolsey, Bill Bohn, Toni Wuersch, and Dick King for
commenting on the above problem.  Kit and Bill like making the
bar point, by a lot, over any other play.  Toni favors 12/6 11/8.
Dick likes 24/15*.

This came up in a match between me and Mel Leifer at this year's
Beltway Backgammon Club Spring Open.  Over the board, I played
24/15*.  I only considered that play and making the bar.  Now
I like making the bar better, but I'm not 100% convinced yet.

Toni argues for the blot saving play because he doesn't want to
end up with 2 back, which is reasonable, but I think making the
bar point has to be superior to this.  After making the bar,
4 numbers hit an outfield blot (5-2, 5-3, 6-2, and 6-3), and after
12/6 11/8, 4 numbers still hit the lone outfield blot (6-5, 6-4,
6-3, and 5-4).  Its true that after making the bar you have an
additional blot, but you also have much greater containment.
And although the bar point may eventually become a liability, I
think its for right now its a big asset.

24/15* makes certain that X won't get stuck behind O's blockade
with a series of bad rolls, and practically ensures that O won't
win going forward.  On the other hand, it helps O's timing, gives O
a chance to make the 23 point, and forgoes the valuable barpoint.

If anyone locally (I know Mel and Joe Freedman read this newsgroup)
wants to play a short prop on this, I'll take either play and
play it for the educational value.

David Montgomery
monty on FIBS

Moishe Steigmann  writes:

I would posit a different tactic.  In this game, X is in a lot of trouble.
So, while O's inside board is still weak, he should be aggresive, with an
8/2* and 24/21.  Taking on the 15 is a horrible idea -- you do not want O
to make a three point backgame.  Making an anchor on the bar is too late
for this game since O has advanced anchors in X's home board.  Worst case,
after taking a the 2, if X gets hit, X has a chance to make his own anchor
O's home board.  And, X does not have to fear a double hit (barring
doubles) because O is on the homeboard!  Of course, if O fails to enter,
then X also has a terrific shot at landing a second or even third blot in
O's outfield.  It's the best chance that X has at winning a game that is
rapidly getting away.
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Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     



After an early blitz attempt  (Daniel Murphy, Apr 1997) 
But they're so much fun!  (Laury Chizlett+, Oct 2000) 
Checker problem  (David Montgomery+, May 1995) 
Defending against a backgame  (KL Gerber+, Jan 2003)  [Long message]
Defending against a backgame  (Michael J. Zehr, Jan 1995) 
How many men back?  (Brian Sheppard, July 1997) 
Play for a backgame from the start?  (Alan Webb+, Dec 1998) 
What is a backgame?  (Daniel Murphy, Apr 2001) 
When to double  (David Montgomery, May 1995) 
Which anchor is best?  (Kit Woolsey, July 1996) 
Which anchor to break  (Brian Sheppard, May 1997) 
Which anchors are best?  (sebalotek+, Jan 2012) 
Which anchors are best?  (Adam Stocks, Apr 2002) 
Which anchors are best?  (Mary Hickey, Mar 2001) 
Which anchors are best?  (Jerry Weaver+, Apr 1998) 
Which anchors are best?  (Chuck Bower, Jan 1997) 
Which anchors are best?  (Marc Gray, Nov 1995) 

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