Opening Rolls

Forum Archive : Opening Rolls

Splitting versus building

From:   Dave Slayton
Date:   8 August 2000
Subject:   so splitting is NOT evil!
Google:   8mp85h$gbt$

My impression from the old school of backgammon was that splitting
one's back men was viewed generally as poor tactics by Barclay Cooke
and others, cuz you would be leaving yourself open to being blitzed, etc.

But I noticed from all this discussion and the various resources I was able
to find containing volumes of rollout data on opening rolls, that the
modern "best" play for ALL opening rolls except for the 4 that make good
points immediately (5-3,4-2,3-1,6-1) involves splitting the back men, and
with the added exception of 6-5, they all involve moving a single back man
and a single man from the midpoint.

(I say "best" cuz what's really really best appears to still be
controversial on some rolls like 5-2, 5-4, 3-2, and 4-3, where there are a
couple of possible good plays that come out very close in the various
rollouts, but regardless of that, the splitting plays for each are about as
good or slightly better than the other viable plays.)

So I find this splitting-is-evil vs. splitting-is-wonderful disparity
between the "old school" and the "new school" really interesting.

Robert-Jan Veldhuizen  writes:

This is just speculating from my side, but I think it has something to
do with psychology.

Neural nets just count wins and losses; they don't care how the game
went.  Human beings however, will probably remember games differently.
It's not much fun splitting with a 2 and then getting blitzed, with
probably very few if any unforced moves left in the game.

If there's an audience that'll tell you that's why you should never
split with a two, just after you got gammoned for 4 points like that,
it's hard to convince them (and after a while, yourself!) otherwise.

Also, if you play 4-1 like 13/9 6/5 and don't get hit, you'll probably
have lots of interesting plays coming up and your position will look
good and 'professional' to any watchers. Even if you lose such a game,
you'll probably feel like you've played a pretty good game and your
opponent just got incredibly lucky with that shot in the bear-off.

If one or both blots get hit, you'll still be facing an interesting
game, probably a backgame where you can really show your skill (ahum)!
If you just happen to roll that 6-6 behind your opponent's prime later
on, completely ruining your timing and effectively losing you the game,
it's easy to convince yourself that was just very bad luck; watchers
might agree since they were hoping for some spectacular endgame
probably. The fact that 6-6 AND 5-5 would've ruined your backgame for at
least 12 moves in a row for instance, giving a total probability of this
"horror" sequence to happen 1-(17/18)^12 =~ 50% of the games actually,
is easily forgotten!
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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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