The Gammon Press Blog
by Bill Robertie
1w ago
Cash game, White owns the cube. White to play 3-2 Problem 176 is an example of a type of position that arises fairly frequently, especially at the tail end of a mutual holding game. Black probably held White’s 5-point for a while, then left either to hit a shot or to create a spare on the midpoint. White scores a lucky hit, and now Black is stuck on the bar against a 5-point board. For lack of a better term, I tend to call these ‘One Man on Bar’ positions, although it’s not really a great title, since there are many very different types of positions with a man caught on the bar. But this part ..read more
The Gammon Press Blog
by Bill Robertie
1M ago
Cash game, White owns the cube. White to play 5-1   In backgammon, much of our thinking revolves around assets. What asset can we acquire with a given roll? What asset do we have to give up? One way to look at backgammon is as a series of decisions regarding the accumulation of assets, and the conversion of one asset into another. Some assets are quasi-permanent, like inner-board points, or primes. Others are more ephemeral, like a racing lead, which can vanish with a single hit. We tend to prefer permanent assets to temporary assets when we have a choice, although usually we’re happy to ..read more
The Gammon Press Blog
by Bill Robertie
1M ago
Cash game, center cube. Should White double? Should Black take if doubled? This position is another example of our old friend, the “Action Double”. We’ve seen one of these before, in the blog post of September 1, 2023. Here’s a brief description of the conditions that create a good action double. (1) We’re out of the opening and into the middle game. Unlike opening blitz positions, both sides now have some structure. (2) The side on roll (White in this case) is shooting at several blots. Hitting a blot might result in a big advantage, if the defender (Black) then rolls poorly. (3) The defende ..read more
The Gammon Press Blog
by Bill Robertie
2M ago
Cash game, Black owns the cube. White to play 1-1. In this position, White has escaped his back checkers, while Black has a single checker remaining in White’s board, behind a 5-prime. How these positions are conducted depends on whether Black has one man back or two men anchored. If Black is anchored, we name the position by the quality of the anchor: ace-point game, three-point game, and so forth. Those positions are fairly simple to conduct. White keeps his prime, brings his outside checkers home, clears the outside points of the prime, and finally starts to bear off. Keeping Black ..read more
The Gammon Press Blog
by Bill Robertie
2M ago
Cash game, center cube. Should White double? Should Black take if doubled? Problem 172 is a position type that we’ve categorized as ‘One Man Back’. White has escaped both his rear checkers, while Black still has one man in White’s home board. Now White is considering a double. What factors go into the evaluation of a double in these positions? As in most positions, the first item on our list is the race. Here White has a solid 10-pip lead, 122 to 132. When we talked about races, I described the 8-9-12 rule for evaluating pure races without contact: make an initial double with at least an 8% l ..read more
The Gammon Press Blog
by Bill Robertie
3M ago
Cash game, center cube. White to play 4-2. If you understood the logic behind our last problem, you should have no trouble with this one, although the two positions belong to different categories. Our last problem was what I call a ‘One Man Back’ position, where the issue was to move up in the board and try to get into a race, or stay back and wait for a better chance later. This position belongs in a category I call ‘Split or Something Else’, where one choice is to split the back checkers and go for an anchor, while the other choice is something different, like making an offensive point, bri ..read more
The Gammon Press Blog
by Bill Robertie
4M ago
Cash game, center cube. White to play 3-2. Suppose you’re an intermediate-level backgammon player (a little vague, to be sure, but you get the idea) and you’d like to improve. What’s the best way to study the game in a systematic manner? Different players have different approaches. Here’s what I like to do as a training regimen: 1) Play a daily practice match against Extreme Gammon (XG). There are other bots, but XG is the best. I like five or ten-game cash sessions, since even a short session will usually produce a good amount of interesting study material. 2) Let the bot analyze the session ..read more
The Gammon Press Blog
by Bill Robertie
5M ago
Cash game, center cube. White to play 4-4.   This position was originally Problem 166, where Black had just danced and the question was whether or not White should double. (The answer was borderline double/no double, and easy take.) Some of the responders asked how White should play a subsequent 4-4, and that did seem like an interesting idea for a problem, so here it is. With Black on the bar, the obvious play here is 8/4(2) 6/2(2), making a 4-point board and hopefully keeping Black on the bar a while longer. However, a number of our respondents were uneasy with that play, and suggested ..read more
The Gammon Press Blog
by Bill Robertie
5M ago
Cash game, center cube. Should White double? If White doubles, what should Black do? By convention, most cash games use several auxiliary rules beyond the basic rules of backgammon, intended both to speed up the games and increase the stakes in an exciting way. The most common cash game rules are these: The Jacoby Rule: You can’t win a gammon unless the cube has been turned. This rule eliminates long, dull games where one side gets a huge early edge and plays for the gammon while leaving the cube in the middle. Automatic Doubles: If both sides roll the same number to start the game, the cube ..read more
The Gammon Press Blog
by Bill Robertie
7M ago
Cash game, White owns the cube. White to play 6-3. Checker play in holding games is generally a pretty simple matter. When you’re holding onto an anchor and you’re way behind in the race, you try to follow three rules: 1) Keep your anchor as long as you can. 2) Run off your anchor when the alternative is breaking your board. 3) Run off the anchor if staying raises your gammon chances a lot. If you’re familiar with these rules, you’ll be able to handle most normal holding game positions well. Things get trickier when you have a third checker back. The third checker can generate more potential ..read more

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