Opening Rolls

Forum Archive : Opening Rolls

Splitting versus slotting

From:   Daniel Murphy
Date:   11 September 1997
Subject:   Re: interesting anecdote

John S Mamoun wrote:
> I played a backgammon match last year with an expert, and he
> played an X-1 opening roll by slotting on the five point,
> instead of splitting the back men.  I asked him, "Hmmm ... are
> you sure that's the best move?  Jellyfish says its wrong."
> He says, "Yes, I know that, and Jellyfish is a great player,
> but its not God."

Slotting is an attempt to avoid the type of game in which both players
make advanced anchors and hope for better rolls.  Such mutual holding
games are not always easy to play but tend to be simpler than mutual
priming games or back games.  By slotting you hope to quickly build an
overpowering front position.  This tends to work best against timid
opponents -- the kind who sit back on the ace point waiting to roll
the right double while you gammon him.

While slotting with 41 and 51 may still be wrong in match play, I
suspect slotting is more appetizing in money play using the Jacoby
rule, which encourages earlier doubling to activate gammons.  The idea
here is to quickly build a position in which you can give your
opponent a nearly optimal double, or a double in a volatile, gammonish
game, and gammon him.  If the plan fails, you pass.  Simplistically,
your goal is to win four points, or lose one. (Plus, as any money
player can tell you, typical opponents, having forced you into a back
game, tend to overestimate their chances, double early, misplay the
position and never drop a redouble.)

Unfortunately, there aren't as many timid or weak players as there
used to be.  However, slotting can still work even when it fails.
Often such games turn into complicated positions with one or both
players having several checkers back.  Such positions naturally favor
the more skillful player.  Besides, I think it's generally
acknowledged that JellyFish tends to undervalue back games.  And it
would certainly be an interesting endeavor to attempt to quantify
exactly how much JellyFish undervalues the opening slotting plays
because of its underevaluation of the back games that slotting
sometimes lead to.

Daniel Murphy    Denmark
Backgammon on-line: telnet://
In San Francisco:
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Opening Rolls

At different match scores  (Louis Nardy Pillards, July 2002) 
Average advantage of winning opening roll  (Chuck Bower, Oct 1998) 
Choosing a strategy  (Daniel Murphy, June 2001) 
Early game rule of thumb  (Rich Munitz, Feb 2009) 
Factors to consider  (Kit Woolsey, July 1994) 
How computers play  (Kit Woolsey, Mar 1995)  [Recommended reading]
Magriel's Chapter 5  (Hayden Alfano+, May 2006)  [Long message]
Mloner vs Jellyfish  (Kit Woolsey, Dec 1995) 
Nactating a whole game  (Nack Ballard+, Jan 2011)  [Long message]
Nactation  (Jim Stutz+, June 2010) 
Nactation overview  (Nack Ballard, Oct 2009) 
Nactation--Why use it?  (leobueno+, Jan 2011) 
Opening 1's: Split or slot?  (Douglas Zare, Dec 2003) 
Opening 21: Rollout  (Stick, Mar 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 21: Split or slot?  (Dick Adams+, Dec 2003) 
Opening 32: Rollout  (Stick, Feb 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 43: In GOL online match  (Raccoon+, Feb 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 43: Pros and cons  (Stick+, Jan 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 43: Which split is better?  (Peter Backgren+, Aug 2000) 
Opening 43: Which split is better?  (Michael J. Zehr+, Mar 1996) 
Opening 51: Rollout  (Stick, Feb 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 52: Merits of splitting  (Peter Bell, Apr 1995) 
Opening 53: Magriel's recommendation  (George Parker+, July 1997)  [Long message]
Opening 53: Split to 21?  (Alex Zamanian, Aug 2000) 
Opening 53: Why make the three point?  (Kit Woolsey+, Feb 1996) 
Opening 6's: Slot the bar point?  (Chuck Bower+, Feb 2000) 
Opening 6's: Slot the bar point?  (David Montgomery, June 1995) 
Opening 62: Could running be best?  (Gary Wong, Sept 1997) 
Opening 62: Split, run, or slot?  (Chuck Bower, May 1997) 
Opening 63: Middle Eastern split?  (Mark+, Apr 2002) 
Opening 63: Slot the four point?  (Dennis Cartwright+, Mar 2002) 
Opening 64: Make the two point?  (William Hill+, Jan 1998) 
Opening 64: Make the two point?  (Darse Billings, Feb 1995) 
Opening 64: Rollout  (Peter Grotrian, Jan 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 64: Split to 20?  (Peter Bell, June 1995) 
Opening 64: Three choices  (Brian Sheppard, July 1997) 
Opening 65: Becker on lover's leap  (Jeffrey Spiegler+, Aug 1991) 
Opening 65: Computer rankings  (Chuck Bower, Jan 1997) 
Opening rolls ranked  (Arthur+, Apr 2005) 
Rollouts of opening 21 and replies  (Alexander Nitschke, Oct 1997) 
Rollouts of openings  (Tom Keith+, Jan 2006) 
Rollouts: Expert Backgammon  (Tom Fahland, Aug 1994) 
Rollouts: Jellyfish 3.0  (Midas+, Sept 1997) 
Rollouts: Jellyfish 3.0 level 6  (Chuck Bower, Feb 1999)  [Recommended reading]
Rollouts: Snowie 4.1  (Rene Cerutti, Apr 2004) 
Slotting the four point  (Joe Loria+, Oct 1999) 
Snowie's openers and replies  (rcerutti, Feb 1999)  [Long message]
Splitting versus building  (Dave Slayton+, Aug 2000) 
Splitting versus slotting  (Daniel Murphy, Apr 2001) 
Splitting versus slotting  (Daniel Murphy, Sept 1997) 
Trice's rankings  (Marty Storer, Feb 1992) 

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