Strategy--Checker play

Forum Archive : Strategy--Checker play

Pay now or pay later?

From:   Stuart Katz, MD
Date:   13 November 1997
Subject:   Re: How to play that 4-3?

Kim Neunert wrote:
> This position arose last night when playing my dearest moneygame opponent
> on FIBS.
> It`s  a 5-point-match, X (me) is trailing 0:3 and O holds a 2-cube.
> I rolled 4-3 in the following position and moved 10-7 10-6; my opponent
> hit and told me after it was clear I lost the game that he won`t have
> played the play I did. He thinks 6-2 6-3 was clearly better.
> Because I think that his move is absolutely not right we decided to show
> the position around and to ask what the other (experts??) think about it.
> (Yes, of course we made a bet on the outcome of this...:-))
>         5-Point-Match
>            O: 3   X: 0

[I think this is the posted position; it's the one I analyzed]:
|O O O O O  | |      O        |   2-cube (on O`s side)
|O O O O O  | |               |
|O       O  | |               |
|           | |               |
|           | |               |
|    X      | |               |
|  X X X    | |               |
|  X X X O X| |          X    |
|X X X X O X| |          X    |

> Just to make it clear: O`s outside checker is on his 9-pt., mine are on
> my 10-pt. Any idea or comments are appreciated!
> May the dice-gods be with you (when not playing me...;-))
> Michi

It's pay now or pay later, and later comes real soon. This is one of
the cases where it looks right to break the general rule and pay now.

Kit Woolsey's recent book "New Ideas in Backgammon" had a series of
these problems. To me the take home message was to assess 1)whether
your position would improve or deteriorate by waiting, 2)whether your
opponent would improve or deteriorate by your waiting, and 3)whether
making your move now virtually solves your problem.

Here playing 10/6 10/7 obviously risks a serious but not fatal loss of
equity if O hits [11/36], but leaves X almost completely cleared with
a good racing edge if the shot is missed.

Delaying the potential exposure by giving up the 6-point with 6/2 6/3
is helpful only if X rolls doubles other than 55 on the next shake
[unless X rolls real small non-doubles and temporizes once more]; X
must leave the 9 point with any shake containing a 4 or greater. Since
O likely can go forward from the 9 and 5 points, X probably will leave
a shot after the next shake and likely will leave the blot higher than
the 7 point thus giving O increased shot equity from the indirects.

Using Woolsey's guidelines you see that paying now plays
constructively rather than deteriorating X's position for a more
likely shot next shake when O's board will be just as strong. If X is
hit in both scenarios life after death will probably be better with
the 6 point still intact. Finally, if you get away with leaving the
shot now you are indeed almost home free.

Does this balance the risk of suicide that happens when you play big,
O rolls a deuce and you dance with 44 on the next toss? JellyFish
thinks so. A level 6 rollout x216 for each play gave X 75.3% wins with
10/6 10/7 and 70.7% wins with 6/2 6/3.

                Wx      Gx      Ex      SD      Neq
10/6 10/7       75.3    1.7     0.515   0.006   22,389
6/2 6/3         70.7    2.7     0.418   0.009   12,049

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Strategy--Checker play

Avoiding major oversights  (Chuck Bower+, Mar 2008) 
Bearing off with contact  (Walter Trice, Dec 1999) 
Bearing off with contact  (Daniel Murphy, Mar 1998)  [Long message]
Blitzing strategy  (Michael J. Zehr, July 1997) 
Blitzing strategy  (Fredrik Dahl, July 1997) 
Blitzing technique  (Albert Silver+, July 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Breaking anchor  (abc, Mar 2004) 
Breaking contact  (Alan Webb+, Oct 1999) 
Coming under the gun  (Kit Woolsey, July 1996) 
Common errors  (David Levy, Oct 2009) 
Containment positions  (Brian Sheppard, July 1998) 
Coup Classique  (Paul Epstein+, Dec 2006) 
Cube ownership considerations  (Kit Woolsey, Apr 1996) 
Cube-influenced checker play  (Rew Francis+, Apr 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Defending against a blitz  (Michael J. Zehr, Jan 1995) 
Estimating in volatile situations  (Kit Woolsey, Mar 1997) 
Gammonish positions  (Michael Manolios, Nov 1999) 
Golden point  (Henry Logan+, Nov 2002) 
Hitting loose in your home board  (Douglas Zare, June 2000) 
Holding games  (Casual_Observer, Jan 1999)  [Long message]
How to trap an anchor  (Timothy Chow+, Apr 2010) 
Jacoby rule consideration  (Ron Karr, Nov 1996) 
Kamikaze plays  (christian munk-christensen+, Nov 2010) 
Kleinman Count for bringing checkers home  (Øystein Johansen, Feb 2001) 
Late loose hits  (Douglas Zare+, Aug 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
Mutual holding game  (Ron Karr, Dec 1996) 
Pay now or pay later?  (Stuart Katz, MD, Nov 1997) 
Pay now or pay later?  (Stephen Turner, Mar 1997) 
Pay now or play later?  (Hank Youngerman+, Sept 1998) 
Play versus a novice  (Courtney S Foster+, Apr 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Playing doublets  (Grunty, Jan 2008) 
Playing when opponent has one man back  (Kit Woolsey, May 1995) 
Prime versus prime  (Albert Silver+, Aug 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Prime versus prime  (Michael J. Zehr, Mar 1996) 
Saving gammon  (Bill Riles, Oct 2009) 
Saving gammon  (Ron Karr, Dec 1997) 
Splitting your back men  (KL Gerber+, Nov 2002) 
Splitting your back men  (David Montgomery, June 1995) 
Trap play problem  (Brian Sheppard, Feb 1997) 
When in doubt  (Stick+, Apr 2011) 
When to run the last checker  (Stick Rice+, Jan 2009) 
When you can't decide  (John O'Hagan, Oct 2009) 

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