Match Play

Forum Archive : Match Play

5-away/11-away: redouble to 8

From:   Gavin Anderson
Date:   21 October 1998
Subject:   Do you have nerves of steel? A take decision for you to ponder.
Google:   70jsgk$rgu$

OK - it's the final match of the World Championships. Somehow you've made
it through, and the score is now you(X):11 away, opponent(O):5 away.
There's something like $50,000 riding on the outcome of the match. We're
all watching.

The position is as below. O has just redoubled you to 8. Do you take?

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

To give you some help, Jellyfish says that your game winning chances from
this position are a splendid 5.9%.

OK - made your mind up?

Well, the answer is a TAKE of course! In fact, your opponent has made a
mistake, and shouldn't even be doubling you yet!

This situation is taken (indirectly) from p.23 of Kit Woolsey's `How to
Play Tournament Backgammon`, which I'm just now reading and enjoying. The
doubling window at this match score and cube value is given as 95-97%. The
book explains clearly why this position would be a take, and I won't try to
repeat that explanation here. I certainly don't want to try and dispute the

Mathematically the take gives you a 5.9% chance of winning the game (and
the match). A pass would leave you 1-away, 11-away (Crawford), with 3%
equity in the match. So the take is clear.

But - I'd like to ask you. If it was you in the hot seat, would you have
taken that double? With all that money and the championship title at stake,
how many of you would have taken the larger mathematical equity, and
trusted your fate completely to the next couple of dice rolls, and how many
of you would have plumped for trying to battle it back from 1-away, 11-away
(Crawford), which at least gives you a chance to input some of your
backgammon skill, rather than leave it all to the dice (Remembering of
course that it's the World Championships Final, so both you and your
opponent are top class).

I can see the emotional argument for passing, but are there any more solid
justifications for passing? Would any of you top class players pass this
cube? I suppose if you passed you'd be looked down upon by your peers (even
if you won?), whereas if you took you could defend it as the correct
decision, and if you made the miracle comeback you would certainly be able
to crow about it.

Hope you liked this teaser. If I've made a mistake somewhere here - let me

Gavin Anderson
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Match Play

1-away/1-away: advice from Bernhard Kaiser  (Darse Billings, July 1995)  [Long message] [Recommended reading]
1-away/1-away: advice from Stick  (Stick+, Mar 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
1-away/1-away: and similar scores  (Lou Poppler, Aug 1995) 
2-away/3-away: playing for gammon  (Tom Keith, Feb 1996) 
2-away/4-away: Neil's rule of 80  (Neil Kazaross, June 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
2-away/4-away: cube strategy  (Tom Keith, Dec 1996) 
2-away/4-away: practical issues  (Mark Damish, Jan 1996) 
2-away/4-away: trailer's initial double  (Kit Woolsey, Jan 1996) 
3-away/4-away: opponent's recube  (William C. Bitting+, Feb 1997)  [Long message]
3-away/4-away: racing cube  (Bill Calton+, Nov 2012) 
3-away/4-away: tricky cube decision  (Kit Woolsey+, July 1994) 
3-away/4-away: what's the correct equity?  (Tom Keith, Sept 1997) 
4-away/4-away: take/drop point  (Gary Wong, Oct 1997) 
5-away/11-away: redouble to 8  (Gavin Anderson, Oct 1998) 
7-away/11-away: volatile recube decision  (Kit Woolsey, May 1997) 
Both too good and not good enough to double  (Paul Epstein+, Sept 2007) 
Comparing 2-away/3-away and 2-away/4-away  (Douglas Zare, Mar 2002) 
Crawford rule  (Chuck Bower, May 1998) 
Crawford rule  (Kit Woolsey, Mar 1997) 
Crawford rule--Why just one game?  (Walter Trice, Jan 2000) 
Crawford rule--history  (Michael Strato, Jan 2001) 
Delayed mandatory double  (tem_sat+, Oct 2010) 
Delayed mandatory double  (Donald Kahn+, Dec 1997)  [Recommended reading]
Doubling when facing a gammon loss  (Kit Woolsey, Jan 1999) 
Doubling when opponent is 2-away  (David Montgomery, Dec 1997) 
Doubling when you're an underdog  (Stein Kulseth, Dec 1997) 
Doubling window with gammons  (Jason Lee+, Jan 2009) 
Free drop  (Ian Shaw, May 1999) 
Free drop  (Willis Elias+, Oct 1994) 
Gammonless takepoint formula  (Adam Stocks, June 2002) 
Going for gammon when opp has free drop  (Kit Woolsey, Jan 1998) 
Going for gammon when opp has free drop  (Kit Woolsey, Apr 1995) 
Holland rule  (Neil Kazaross, Apr 2010) 
Holland rule  (Kit Woolsey, Dec 1994) 
Leading 2-away with good gammon chances  (Douglas Zare, Feb 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Match play 101  (Max Urban+, Oct 2009) 
Matches to a set number of games  (Tom Keith+, Oct 1998) 
Playing when opponent has free drop  (Gilles Baudrillard+, Dec 1996) 
Post-crawford doubling  (Scott Steiner+, Feb 2004) 
Post-crawford doubling  (Maik Stiebler+, Dec 2002) 
Post-crawford doubling  (Gus+, Sept 2002) 
Post-crawford mistakes  (Rob Adams, Sept 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
Post-crawford/2-away: too good to double  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, July 2004) 
Slotting when opponent has free drop  (onur alan+, Apr 2013) 
Take points  (fiore+, Feb 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Tips to improve cube handling  (Lucky Jim+, Jan 2010) 
When to free drop  (Dan Pelton+, Oct 2006) 
When to free drop  (Tom Keith+, July 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
When to free drop  (Gregg Cattanach, Dec 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
When to free drop  (Kit Woolsey, Feb 1998) 
When to free drop  (Chuck Bower, Jan 1998) 
Which format most favors the favorite?  (Daniel Murphy+, Jan 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]

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