n~?lm~i mmckmmmon rrorkD -n


IN Bill Robertie

Winningat badcgammonrequiresmastering twophases ofthe game: dynamic checkerpIq (using your checkers as weapons to pin your opponent in awkward positions) and aggressivecube action (using the doubliig cube to maximize your wins in good positions and minimize your losses in bad positions).
Both parts of the game are essential. Wkhout sharp checker play, you wont create the sorts af positions where you can outmaneuver and outplay your opponents.Without skillful use of the doubling cube, you won't earn as much from your good positions as you should. Ifyou're goingto be a big winner, you've got to master both of these elements.
ning chances late i the game. Y u l also lean the n o'l masterj~rets offering timely doubles,andhowto for decide whether a cube i s a take or a drop.

In this book, Il show you the secrets of aggressive 'l checker and cube play as practiced by the greatest masters of the game. You'll lmn how to make your checkers work in multiple ways, how to build primes quickly when you need them, and how to drop back inro holding positions and back games for more win-

By the time you've finished rmding, you'll be &ng to incorporate thest ideas in your own v. The results wiU be impressive. Your checker pky will put extra pressure on your opponents, forcing them into cramped, a w h d positions. Your cubcs will come at just the right moment, forcing tough decisions. Finally, your i m p d technique will let you bring your games to winning condusions,avoidingtheupmand turnarounds that will plague your o p p o m .
Let's get s d !

The best way to study backgxnmon Is by looking at
d games played by master players. There you'll h d , instead of contrived situations, the s r of difiot cuic yet fascinating positions that occur when Gackgammon i s played by competitors who redy undersmnd the game. In thls book I've collected five of the most interesting games h m master play in the last few ymrs. Each of the players is a first-class pro playing at the top of h game. i a

Backgammon is a game best studied not passively. It's tasy to M into the trap of reading I through a book quickly, noringwhatthe author has to say, tcllingyoum1F"Oh hat's prettyobvious,"and ycs, moving on. Siac backgammon moves are all j u t sittingthere, waiting to be found, it's tempting to think that you would surely have found all these movts had you k n sittingat the table. lfyou'relthinkingthisway, you're studying p i r e l y .

My fim book, adckgmtnonfir Wnnm, gave you a solid foundation for mastering the basic strategies of the game. In the games I've p i c h i for this book, you're going to be introduced to a higher level of play, full of
new ideas that we haven't encountered before. R d carefully; there's probably a lot here that you've never seen. By she time you've worked yourway through the

I recommend a more active approach to reading chi book, Treat each game like a quiz, especially the first time you read through it.Tryusing a piece of paper or cardboard to cover a player's roll andmovc.Thcnmove the paper to uncover just the dice roll. Ask youtseif, "Whatwould I play here?"Ifyou want to, write down your play on a separate piace ofpaper. Now expose the actual play and compare it to what you would have

whole book, your undersmnding and your play will have advanced several I d .

By reading and t&g yourself in t i way, you'll h s compile a Iist of the plays you would haw made difkrently. Now the arplanations will be more m a n in&l, since youbealreadydone the work of grappling with the problem At the same time, you should also readclosely the wmrncna on the playsyou made correctly, since my wmmcnts may bring out some fkatum of the position you hadn't considerod.

Backgammon tournaments ate heH dl over the world and throughout theyear. On anygivenweekend,there will be local tournaments across the United States and throughout Europe. The game is currentlycatching on in SouthAmerica, and many new clubs and events are starting there.

Tournamentsare great places to meet newplayers, take a look at new boards and quipmcnt, and pickup n m ofdubs opening.Mast top tournamens have a lecture series for beginners and inttrmcdiates, while pros: art always available for private lessons. Don't be intimidated if you're a beginner. Every tournament has sections and activities designedespeciallyfor newcomers. Besides,ifyou absorb the ltssons i this book, you n won't stay a beginner for long?
WKQAMMON TOURNAMENTS Backgammon tournaments arc run somewhat like tennis tournaments, using an elimination format In the first round, players are p a i d at random. If the numberof players is not qua1to a power of 2 (16,32, 64,128, and so forth),some players d receive a bye, l which is a free pass ro the ncm round. Each round, half the players arc climinatcd, until only two players remain.T h a two playerscompetein the finals for the title of champion.

The biggest tournaments are frequent enough ta comprise a~ informal tour,and a handful of professional players make the circuit. The big events include the Swiss tournament in Gstaad and St. Moria in March. Then it's on to St. Tropez and Zas V g s in April and ca May, Venice infune, andTheWorld Championship in Monte Carlo in July. A brief stopover in Cannes is followed by the highlight of the tour, the World Cup in Dallas. October is dedicated to the South American tournaments in Sao Paulo, Ria de Janiem, and Buenos Aires.Theseason finisheswith the Las V g s Open and ea Pro Am DouMes Championship in November.

Eliminated players are dropped inm a new m t , mlled the Consolation,Losers in the Consolationare dropped into a final event, the Last Chance.Matchts in the Consolation and Last Chance are typically shorter than in the main m n t ,
In a ypical tournament, about60%ofthe prize money k domed to the main mmt, with 30% in the

Cansolationand 10%in the Last Chance. Of course, the exact percentages and prizes are up to the tournament organizer. In addition to the m i tournament an with its Consolation and Last Chance,there are usud manyjackpotsandside wents ping on atthe same y time. Some players have been knawn r play aver 100 o matches during the course of a week-long competition.

dcsirad rod, the match is over and he is the winner.
In tournament play, you don't have to doubIe to win a gammon. Thafs different f o maney play, where in rm

most dubs the doubling cube m s be turned for a ut prnmon or backgammon to be scored (the Jacoby Rule).
Toward the end ofa match, the Crawford R l comes ue into play. hventad many years ago byJohn Crawford, the Crawford rule statcs that when a player's score teaches one point from victory, h opponent cannot s i double in the very next game. If the mat& continues beyond the next game, the cube can be usod normdy.

A largc tournament may take 7-9 days to complete. Smaller regional events might be held over just a long weekend. A purely local event can be completed in a single day. Matches i regional and local events are n much shorter than in the big international competitions.

Tournament play is structured around matches that are played to a specified number of points. By tta&tion, the number of points in a match is always OM.In a local murnamenx, for example, the matches might m t at 9 points, increasing as rounds are pIayed to a 15 point final match. The longerthcmatch, the more skill is involved in the outcome.
As in money play, the doublingcube is used. Competitors play gama and add the points won in tach game to their total sfore. When one player reaches the

For example, Smith and Joncs are playing a Ppoint match, and Smith wins a p e to make the score: Smith 8, Jones 4. The next game is the Crawford Game, andJonesannot double in this p e . (Smith, ofcourse, has no reason to double.) M s a y Jontswins one point in the Crawfod Game to mike the score 8 to 5. In the following game, normal rules are back in e f k and Jonescan double as soon as he wishes.
Disputes between the players are settled by calling the tournammt director, who will make a ruling. In certain exceptional casts, a panel of experienced playcrs may be convened to m k a ruling ae

THE MAJOR TOURNAMENTS Like golf and tennis, backgammon has a few events whose irnpomce dwarfs the other tournaments. Here are a few of the biggest and most prestigious tournaments in modern backgammon.

p t c r than in rhc World Cup, but the contest itself is always fascinating. Here are the winners of the last 25

World Championships:


: :

ratu lvragr~wturn

: LuigiVilla (Italy)

THE WORLD CUP The most important tournament in backgammon is the World Cup, heid every other year in August in Dallas. What sepatates the World Cup from dl other events is the extreme length of i matches. Each round w in h e main event is a best three out of five, 1P point series. In the Consolation, matches start at 25 points (longer than the finals at most tournaments) and increase to a 29 point final. C e s docks are used to hs time each match and ensure reasonablyspeedyplay (as well as adda little extrapressuse).TheWorld Cup is the most d8icult tournament in backpnmon to win, and in fact, no one but a top world-class pro has wer won the went.
THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP The World Championship of Backgammon is held wery July at hew's Hotel in Monte Carlo. The went norrndy attractsabout 400 players. Most participants are from Eucope, although eachabout 30 Amerim n s make the journv. Matches in the main event begin at 17 points and Increase to a 25 point final. W~ththe shorter matches, the luck factor is much

Walter C:oratella (A Lee Genud (USA) : Jacques Mihe1 (Switzerland) : BillRob,ettie (USA : Mike Svnbodny (U . PL--l*- - . - .


: Philip Macmorstein (bermany) sell 1989: JaeRus! (USA) ~ada) I390i: HdEIeiI&& (Car : Michael1 Mqsourg (Germany) 1991 , - ., : lonKcssu (Kuman : I :

k r r a r w Sabet [Itall : Clemen t Palalacci (It : Bill Robrertie (USA -. ... -

Peter Thomsen (D

t: Frank Frigo (USA:


David Ben-Zion (l i: David Nehmad (birael) ': Jerry Grandell (S*d e n ) . i: Michael Meyburg (bermany) ) Jorgen Granstedt (Sweden) : 1: Katie Smlamandre WSA) 1 J o r p Granstdt (Swaden) : t: Mads Andersen (Denmark)

Here's a l i t of recent winners: PRO-AM DOUBLES CHAMPIONS Phillip Marmomin 8r RalfLudwig JoeRussell & Bob W : Mads A n d e m & Gi TO Hack Bdlard & Hawey WuEe Balb JerryGramdell & Atrr~anda i TheWorld Championshipwas heId on ParadiseIsland until 1978. each consisting of a top tour professional paired with an enthusiastic amateur. For about ten years after that.Thattournamentgrew into the Obolensky Cup. a regular tournament on the international circuit was held every year in January.when it moved to Monte Carlo.Although it used to be held in February. The Bahamas has been the scene of topflight backgxnmon events ever since the very first internationaltournament waso+d there byPrince Alexis Oboicnskyin 1964. hiis rime to La Vegas. The format is a doubles tournament of 16 teams. . held during the 1960sand 1970s.THE PaO-AM DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIP The Pro-Am Doubles Championship originated in The Bahamas. Florida.The followingyear it moved again. The idea of a Pro-Am doubles tournament was the brainchld of Lewis Deyong. In 1998. the Pro-Am Doubles Championship moved toTurnberry Isle. a backgammonpromoter from London. until the idea of a h@-dass doubles tournament caught on. but eventually discontinued in 1974. it now rakes place in Las V v every November. Nevada.

and wanted to make his 5-point. It's easy to learn. Suppose Black won the optning roll w t a 3 1 (Black ih rolled a 3 and White rolIed a I. starting with point numba 1 i the lower left n and going all the way to point n u m k 24 i thc upper n Icfi. Usingthese point numbers. White5 piemmove i theopposite-direction. Black's pieas always move h m higher numbctcd poinu to lowcr numbered pints.Notice that W'YCn u m M aIl the p o d on the board. w e would write: 1. Black is moving d M e . so Black would r n m first). andmdapiecefmmtheS-pointto the 5-point. Black rolled 3 1. Black 31: 815 &5 Thii says: O n the fist roll ofthe game. e' D i 1 shows the starring position of a backgammon game: In Diagram I. White's piaces end up in xhe upper left quadrant. wecan dewibe all the moves of a backgammon gameBackgammon games are recorded using a method called ba&pmmon notation. and it lets us replay a backgammon game whenever we want to. In bajrgammon notation. His pimovc from the upper left quadrant to the right auoss the top half of she board. then t the lcfi along the o lawer half ending up in the quadrant on the lower left. The d t i q position would look like this: .countern dodrwisc. and anothcr picce horn the Gpoint m the 5-point. Lts see how it works.

like this: 4. wmpare the position on your boatd at home with the d a r m in the book. They are as follows: Rolling doubles. Hitting a blot. White 11: 19120(2) 171I8(2) Now suppostthatWhite mlleda63. we use the symbol *. Within a very short igas time y u l be d i n g the notation flawlasly o'l . instance: For 24.and two more from the 17-point to the 18-point.Ifyou've understood chi so fir. Bearingof€. hitting a blot and sending it to the bar. and electedto run with one of his nmr checkers on the 1-point. the move Looks like this: 3. Black 63: 2415' This means Black m m d a chadter from the 24-point to the 15-point. k e are a ftw more shorthand notations that you'll see throughout the book. We'd write: 2. White 6 3 1/10 and the pasition would naw look like chi: This means White m o d two checkers from the 19point to the20-point. When a player rolls doubles and m v s his ch& oe in pairs. When someone hits a blot. That's all there is to it! When you play through the games.We indicatethat checkers were borne off with the notation /OK. BIack 65: 6loff 5Joff This means Black rolled a 65 and bore off rwo check- ers. congratulations! You've mastered backgammon notation.

Hs best result so far was second place in the i Tarrequebrada tournament in Spain in 1932. Black had 4other ways of playing this roll which aren't seen very much anymore in master play.1. Black puts a budder on the I 1the point. The match was to 23 poincs. or Ppoint. He could haw uiad running all the way with a back man: 24116. If Bkdc is hit.I discussed the key gods of the first f&v moves of the game. 7-pint. which can be useful in the future in making the 5-pint. This leaves fewer hitting rolls for Whire. the . BlackG2: 24/18 13111. &ie m n if he's missad. hoping that one of two thinp will happen: either White will fa11to hit this blot and Black wiZl roll another 6 and & r o on the bar point next rum. He also won h e Athens tournament in 1394 and the Bahamas Pro-Am i 1991. He mired in n 1398. he"s ht accomplished nothing.The problem with the play i s t a it's not consmaive. and Horan was the eventual winner. in the race. This is the modern way of playing an opening 6-2. In Backgammonfir Winners. at this point Pauen leads Horan 4 to 3. OPENINO The firstgame we'll study was played in the semifinals of the great Athens tournament of 1994. a New Yorker. W~th 2. H' es the only player ro win the World Cup twice. We're ping to Iwk at Game 5 of the match. these key p o i m are rhc 5-poinr. Wth dtt 6. in 1390 and 1334. For Black. or White will hit the blot but lave a blot of his own. Let$ take a lmk at them. The top priority is to make the strong blocking points on your side of the board. Blackmom out to the opposing bar point (the 18-point).w s recognized as one of the very top players in the world for some time. he'll still have the problem of getting that blot to safety next turn. MatthiasPauenisoneofthe mnpt German$aytts. anda~hirbyBlackdgaiainalotofground Billy Horn. so on the d c e it's a saferplay.

effectivelyequaling the position. the correct way w play a 5-5 I s to move two men from the 12-point to the 22-point. who will be ~ doubltd if he mn't enter his checker from rhe bar.of t course). in Black's m e . in that ordm A second key god (actually just as important as the first) is to make an advanced anchor on the oppnmt's side of the board. playing 13111 brings a new builder into play for the 5-point and the 7-point.4-point. or 18-point. Playing 24118 starts a kqr anchor. While not a bad play. Now Black w n turn h attention to building forward blocking i . White 5 5 17/22(2) 19124*(2). (Assuming he doesn't g hit with a four. This is usually the right way to play an early 5-5 if your opponent has split his back men. on the 20-point. 3. - The strength of 24118 and 1311 1 compared with the running play of 24/16 should now be pretty dear. using the whole roll to start the 5-point. and the 7-point. A good roll by Horan secures the viral dchsive anchor. That's enough to make it a loser. making nro innerb o d points while purting Black on the bar. BIack 52: Bari18. 2 1point.Achievingbothofthedsta~lyin the g a m ~ a advancad anchor plus one or two BGcy n blocking points -virmdy guaranteesa big early edge. with chances for d d o p m c n t on b t h sides of tht board.) It p u immediate pressw on Black. Diagram4: White on roH 2. Runningwith 24116 doesn't start fighting for ary key point. it d y requirts Black to throw a one n m t r to create a good un structure. Another reasonable play which u d to be popular some years ago is simply 1315. (Ifhe still has both men on the ace-poinr. The Wing among today's top players is that playing 24118 and 1311 1 creates a better balanced position. A powerfd response by White.

Why?Let$ see. the 5. but a top playerwould reject hem quickly. trying to make an advancad anchor of his own on the 4-point.points. White 5 3 114 12117. 4. and the reasonably safe 1318. but White's play is clearly the best available. Is a gocrd tip t c Am-- vnce wwur M -*---- -" " uaaunrrif R- mak~ an ad1 w vanced . 46).16. First Blackmust decidewhether or not to hit on the 4point with h deuce.25. White splits hi back men. If he doesn't want to hit.43. Not an especially good roU. Why?The reason is simple. Bladc could sciH win the game by building a prime of his own. A conservaand tive playermightdectmmakceitheroftheseplays. Let's look at some of the possible alternatives. A difficult roll with many possible plays.34. I t becomes w zn more! vital ft)r r you tlo make 4an anchor of your Own. PIAYINQ FOR FLEXlBlLlTY Top players understand that to build powerful p i - . checkers has mished. Howwer.leaving White no shots. Black32 13/10 6/4*. prevent To himself f o being primed. in this game) makes an anchor. anchor. cleaning up a blot in thc proms.52. W h t e must create an rm anchor of his own. then see why Horan decided on the move he actually made. the other side's (White's) chances of winning the game by priming Black's back D i i 5: Black on roll 5. White remakes the 17point. he has i mo plays: the super-& 1 116. and quickly. With rhc 3.lmvingWhite only eight shots (61. Once one side (Black.64.

may actually help your - to fall r h The logic bchind this paradoxical insight is that you're likely to lose a straight race in any cw. . at opponent when he moves to the points you w n to build. That's winning badcgammon. filling in your b o d To create g o d positions. As long as Bl& p e is completely undeveloped. his position becornw very poor very quickly. The dice won't always let you start gama with rolls like 3-1. he won't ol be able to play hi rolls to their full tfftct. since oee. 11t . but that's not necessarilyso bad. In addition. White a n proceed as he chooses. he's under no pressure.If he emus without hitting. . Black M s further behind in the race. H w v r he doesn't have to do either. i preparing to cavtr or make strong points i the future. they tryto put their opponentunder pressure to perform with wery single roll. Horn has diversified all his checkers. Now i d look at the merirs of Horan's actual play. i #re% a Ikey secret thalt Iplayers under: r stand: ll Y"' tia wady a.tions. Instead of big s t a h of checkers piled on tht &point and 13-point.but being further behind may allow YOU to hold your back p i n t s . Whitc could find h i d f facing a powerful cube in a turn or two. for instance. that Black plays the super-safe 1116. you must be willing to take reasonable risks. he now has d l h checkers in play. or to run one of his back checkers to safety with an 8 or an 11.4-2. and he'lte in great position to make the 5-point quiddy. n Now suppose White docs enter and hlr. but mostly that won't happen. Top players understand that the super-safestyle leads nowhere. Once in a while. He's quite a bit behind already as a result of White's 5-5throw. you've got to be willing to slot key points (place a checker there which you hope to c m r the following t t ) and attack your un. you can build a strong prime by throwing a scrits of perfect numbers. SinceWhite is on the bar. Since he must we halfhis rl to enter.Instead. What does White have to be concerned about? He'll be able to make an advancd anchor with any 3. and 5-3.ubstann rid In thcr race. Suppose. 61 4* and 13110. and being a Iitrle more behindwon't nocrJsarily affect h chanaes all that much. he h s t has to enter. Blackwill be able to cover the Mot on the 4point.

6 White 53: Bar15 114*. Viewed in this light. he still wants m enter both hs checkers in Black's home board. . Entering on the 21-point is forced after which Horan has a choice betweenhitting on the 5-point or hitting on the 4point. . Top playets aren't eager to make the 1-point early in the game.w need t look at one e o other possible play: the doubl+hit. Wth apmr roll on mite's part. It might seem that if hitting one checker is good. White's checkers are obstructed behind thm Mocking points (the 5-point. White's checken are not nearly so blocked. while if Black covers it.long enough to get a shot or two. then the 3-point. Since the 5-point is more valuable than the 4-point. it's not such a strong play. however. A good throw for White. Black 64: Bar121 11/5*. gaining some ground in the race. and White anchors on the 4-point. then the 4-point. Why is the 5-point moreduable? Look at it this way: if Back makes the 5-point. he'll have made a point deep i his b o d and out of n play. hitting two checkers is wen be-. Horan hits on the 5. Before we l m this position. that's often the case. and 8-points). i The checker on the 1-point will remain a liability in any future exchange of hits. Entering with che 5 d m White to hit with the 3. Horan's play looks much better chan the feeble safe plays. Diagram 6: Black on roll 7. you should t to q make your points in order: first the 5-point. Hae. On the other hand. Me's taken conmI of the board and he's dimtingthe tempo. ht might win the game in a turn or mo. Even if White fails to hit the blot on the 1-poinr. if Black makes the Cpoint and White anchors on the 5-point. 614*11*. 6-point. and so on. You shouldn't be. In general. Indeed. either.

will Eorce your opponent to drop a kter double. 10. but he picks off the blot on the 10-point instead. In this position. White statts the IS-point with one of the s p a on the midpoint. In order to double. This is known as losing p u r market. Instead. . On the 22point.A p o d un result for Whitewould be to safety a couple ofhis blots. With the 6. but it's not going to change very much from turn to t r . VPhite has an advantage. White 43: 1/5* 12/15. in this cast the 7-point. but the zhree is awlward. the checker is a builder for both the valuable 2bpoint and the less valuable 23-point. Black simply slots the next good point. t e White can'thit the blot on the 5-point. On the 1Ppoint. It will be very dificult for White so move h i checkers past those two points without leaving some shots later on. he doesn't have many numbers that h t h enter and hit. if your best won't be enough to make your opponent give up later-then you shouldn't double yet. In addtion. ifexccuted. Black 64: Bar12 1 1317.8. Making the 2lpoint gives Black two strongdefensive anchors (the 2 1-point and the 1&point) as a fallback posiuon. D i p 7: Black an mll I 1. Since Black is on the bar. W 61: Bad1 4/10*. but staying out ist ' too serious. Bhck 63: Stays out. White m d d make a saft play by moving 191 22. 9. He should be able to reenter next turn. you need to have both a very solid advantage and some threatswhich. If you mn't lore your market-that is. Black would have liked to enter. Should White double! No. but that puts a valuable buader out ofplay. Hitting with the 4 is certainly dear. m t e would have no difficulty reentering a checker since Black hasn't yet kgun to build his home board. Risky! Not really. the checker is a builder for only the 23-point.

-a4 tne ruGw --- anuulu ESY - su UI from ther back cngage I If White had tried 10117 instead. White 52: 5/12. Sometime in the near future. Blackwouldhave a very dear take. Hence the 16point is preferred to the 15-point. Points closer to the home board are msicr to clcar than points fatther away. Pawn runs a ch& to &ty. Excellent play by Pauen. Diagram 8: White on roil 14. his rear checker . but e the 16-point is better. Black21: Barf23 8J7. So there's no reason for W h i t e t o double now. By moving the rearmost checker first.Black will then most likely enter his checker from rhe bar. White 41: 12116 15/16. At that point. 12. 13. Black enters with the 2 and finally makes a new offensive point with his ace. The 1Gpoint should be a usdul landing spot as White tries to maneuverhis ch&s toward the home board. Pauen keeps his formation compact and better coordinated. H could have made the 15-point instead (1011 5). but h actual play was i her. ifVhite doubled. He could also have safetied a checker with 10117. L-7 er who i! -1--. White will havc to dear his outside blocking pointsand bringthe checkers into the inner board.

. White enters and hops Black's small blockade. Black 64: 1319* 10f4. extending hs growing prime. and ewn if it survived the attack. i The problem with that play. m that hedoesn't have toworryabout Black's building a prime in front of him. 'White's advantage evaporates immediately. is that Black would have lefi himself veryexposd. -. He already has a good position and a big lead in the race. White can concentrate on filZing in h 23-point and 20-point. Bar13 and 17/23*!" The answer is that White doesn't need to attack here. 15. if there aren't any enemy c h e h to blockHoran correctly sends a White checker back home. .-. Some might ask. p m t s a difficult choice. he could follow up by making the 9-point or the: 10-point. however.. BIack21: 13/10*. White 63: Barl9. - setweerI w n a choice I a :ting and buildIna. aiming to control the outfield Jf his blots survived.hit . Hitting with the 4 is clarcut. however.-tlona. What he needs to do is get his back checkerto safety. - Diagsam 9:Black on roll h 16. White should be able to pick up the blot on the 10-point without much dificuly. however. 'Why not the attacking play. Horan has a choice here. There's not much point to a strong blockingposition.would be subject to attack. problem is taken care of. Wlth five blots suewn amund and no anchor i White's home b o d n .. Note that when i the attacking play fails. White would bt a big underdog to get the h e d r e r to safety. tlnIg wlll ti ? fn most (b . He could build the most valuable point in his home b o d by moving 715 615. Horn could try 21115. O c that ne 17. The play of the 6. Notice that if Blackmim this three shot.

IfWhite doesn't immediately o throw a 6. but unfortunately. it's block!. he deliberately opens up the 7-point . Horan makes the veteran's choice: he d y slots his $-point. White's game will improve greatly if he can i in that vital landing l l spoc 19. however. Black 52: 23/18 614. White 51: B r 1 12/17. That's too big a risk to take. White's mu checker is getting stranded. or 11-point nem turn. He'd like to move h i spate checker on the 18-point mund to join in the b a d e for the 5-point. to makt the 5-point! What's h idea? i Essentially a forced play. Horan recognizes that he has too Eew checkers on the scene to neady mah a 5-point prime (five points in a row) by waiting ro throw just the right numbers. With theloss ofthe midpoint. An imaginative play by Moran. creating a very strong position. BlackZ1: 715 615. 20. Horn can cover the 7-point next turn with any 2. he uses the few checkers he has t maximum advantage. H could play safe with a move like 916 or 917 817. a1 White misses and can't escape. 18. Instead. while with the 5 he mc)w his rear blot to a position where he can bring it around to the 9. with a deuce. and he needs all the rest of his checkers working to strengthen his gmwing prime. Black has four checkers committed to holding the two anchors for s d more turns. . 10. 21. while risking vuy little if White hits. White will need to extricate it very quickly. e Instead. White 55: 12/22(2). Black covers the blot in the most efficient way. An excellent roll. aiming for a small gain if White miss= this shot. especially sinceBlack's two defensive anchors give him excellent long-term chances.aluckyhit by White could knock Blackout of the game- on the very next roll. By f i l b g in the 5-poinr. so he is content to bring a builder to bear on the key 20-point.

then offer a perfectly-timed double. and is usefully placed to make the 5-point. 22. 26. EquaIlygoodwas61 3. not be able to safety that chedrer. Horan makes four points in a row. If White is able to mow h checker on the 12-pointto safety b turn. 25.and 21. In particular. White throws the 6 and pops into the oudidd. the next point he wants to m a t . say with a H w v r there's a ansidtrable chance that White will oee.62. Diagram 11:White on roll White wdd reasonably double now. A g o d throw. Horan enters and brings another spare to bear on the 3-poinr.33. but in that cast Horan will fall back on his primary game plan .63.or 25%! White's proper strategy is to move the checker to safety.using the anchors on the 21 and 18-pointsto generate a winning shot late in the p e . 23. Paucn correctly leaves the cube in the middle. White can't dear either outside poinr. of course. all of the folIwving throws would leave that checker in jeopardy: 66. but he chooses to wait one more turn. 'White 52: 12/19. Black will haw to win from his holding position aftm dl. White 65: 117*112. starting the 3-point. 24.Andwhat ifwhitedmroll a G?That'sacalculatcd risk. BIafk44: Bar121 1816. so he moves the odd checker to the 2-point. That's atotalof9 out of a possible 36 dice throws. The checker mmes to safety. i s s roll of 6-2 (12113) he'll be in an ideal position M double. ShouldWhite double now?Not quite. Black21: 9/7 817. . White 51: 17123. Blackwould still have a take based on his chances of hitting a game-winning shot later in the game.

) Since I probably won't get a winning shot for two turns. Let's take a look at the considerationsthatgovern the decision t &or o drop. Black 42: 812. only 64 forces h i to leave a blot. Bkck is faced with a very difficult decision. I"d be willing to loosen my position for one turn since ir's unliid&at I will get ashot immediately. I. 29. (OnWhite's next roll. but this roll is particularly awkward.Horan decides that's too high a price to pay. but here dotting the 3-point involves breakingthe 7-point. White doubies to 2. WHEN TO TAKE A DOUBLE The ram is a factor in most cube decisions. lltlngforas hot. The pip count (the number of pips that each side must throw to beat off dl checkers) is 74 for White and 15 I for Black. A difficult choice for Horan. As it stands. I should have time to wvcr the %point. wher uamg your moara and WB L A .^ I-&I111 U~UWII to slot and cov 111~- --am- I ~ u u n v ua m ~ d Diagram 12:White an mu 28. My preference would be to play 713 and 614. the low Apcrfecdy-timeddouble byWhite. Black . That's an excellent rule. Black would definitely have a pass. but here the race is a foregone conclusion. so he keeps the 7-point and slots the 2-point instcad. Black &. Black rcaliy wants to make the 3-point next. Ifhewaits untilhe cleats the 17-point or the IGpoinr.27.

So one win in four games is the break-wen point for taking a double if you can't get gammoned.63 and36) andsixother numbers to dear the 17-point (65. If Black mnt win the race. Black would have about a 60% chance to hit a blot on the 16-point or the 17-point (you see the great advantage of holding twa anchors). How often d m Black need to win this position in order to take a double?In my first book. M guessis that Blackcan win y this position about 35% of the time.16.61. If White dears the 17-point before clearing the 16-point. Barring doubles. you should pass. of i t e zoursc. Black can certainly win more than one game in four.Hitting a shot. itn His chances of getting a shot are a c d y quite good.is not going to win any races. I explained that i Black caa't lose a f gammon.13. Also. he might still lose by leaving a blot on the 19-point. he would lose six points in the three games he Lost while winning back t o points in the game he w won. Badgammon fir WitPnm.52. doesn't guarantee victory. then his chances of clearing the 16-point without leaving a shot are very small. just as &re. and Bhck dropped all four games.the gammon factor.he would need to win at least one game in four to take a double. Black will actually be a favorite m hit it! He'd be able to hit with any 5 or any 2. wen if m cleats the 16 and 17-points. then he's going to have to win byfirst h t i g ashot. you can certainly take.26. while he might get as many as two or three shots. So Black has a dear mkc. W h y only one in four? Let's quickly review why that's the case.62. The result? A net loss of four points. . l or however. In the position we're looking at. If he took al f u games. If you can w n more than i one game in four.H' a favorite to get es at least one shot. then containing the checker.while if your chances are less than hat. Supposethis position came up four consecutive times. and 25). and managed to win only one while losing three. andwhilt hc'slikely to do that. he will need to win more than his usual 25% of the t m to justify a take. he would lose four points. Black would d l have to contain the c h e c k hehits. right?Not so fsst!Therels one other factor to consider . How ie much more? That depends on his estimate of how If White leaves a shot on the l&point. Overall. h m r . plus a combination shot like 41.Whitcwill haw some chances to escape. W h i t e has only six numbers to clear the 16-point (31. In that case.56. THE QAMMON FACTOR If Black can lose a gammon.

So two gammon losses can be made up with just one extra win. or 35% wins. There's a good rule that covers this situation: l r w e .. but if he mi= his shots. we'd actually need to have 25% plus lo%. we'd need 10% extra wins to balance the 20% gammons. To see why this rule makessense.look at what happens when you exchange a single loss for either a garnmon loss or a turnaround win. turning a loss into a gammon costs you two points.likely he is to be gammon&. One way to estimate hi chances of losing a gammon is to compare the number of pips that White has m roll to bear off with the number of pips that Black has to roll to get dl his checkers into hi home board.the three checkers on the 21-point must hi move 15 pips each. ready to beat o f In f. You ldltlonall game lto brealt -A - 3 N wlet's get back to Horan's actual position.he's gota reasonablechance ofbeing gammoned. instead of losing you have a two point gain instead of a two point loss. or he might miss the shots he gets. Your net p i n is a d l y four points. losing a single game costs you two points. This gives us a masure of the minimum amount of pippage Black must throw to get all checkers Into his inner board. If the cube is on two.the two checkers on the I 8-point . compute the number ofpips that each of Black's outer-board checkersmust move to reach Black's 6-point. it's 74 pips to tKar OK This insight gives us a tool for taking the cube in positions where we might get gammond Supposewe were thinking about taking a double and we estimated that we might get garnrnoned 20% ofthe time. . H' got a good chance of gming ashot. but he might never get a shot. to take. LDsing a gammon costs you two additional points compared to a single game loss. r needtcb win o 4? n sing. We figured out White's toml already when we dd our pip i aount. So instead of needing to win rhc position 25% of the time. while losing a gammon costs you four points. t i position. In that To figureout Black's total. Certainly o it's possible f r Horan to lose a gammon in this o es position. every two g. even. If he &ts a shot he'll almost certainly save the gammon if he doesn't win the game. If the cube is on twa and you win a single game. To summarize: turninga loss into a win gains you four points. I I ---ar ywu are In aunaer wf .

he starts to build the 3-point with his 3. What all this means is that an optimistic estimate of Black's possibilities yields 40% wins for Black. above his basic 25%. and Black quite possibly might not do as well as 40% wins. we can make an educated g c s about the I ikely outcornm of the game."point requireone pip each. which in turn is just a bare take. a not uncharacterisic decision for him. filling in the gap on the 20-point. If White doubed now. If White m win a gammon 30% of the time. White 11: 19/20(2)22/23(2). Hopping out with the 6 is cleat. Bhck would surely pass. If Black can win 40% of the time.since Black needs that checker to build h blockade. Another great shot for White. Putring all this information together. or71 pips. Since Black wants as i powerfd a board as possible if and when White leaves a shot. 30. us Black has excellent chances to get at least one shot and might get as many as two.His winning chances are better than 30%. about half his wins will be gammons. Horan's decision means the game will end with an interesting and possibly dramatic figfit. This greatly i n the number of rolls that will eventually clmt the 17-point sucmfully. he is about even money to save thc gammon. What this mlculation tells us is that if Black dws not hit a shot as Whiteis bearing in. I m t e wins 60%.making the 3-point. White 31: 16/17 16/19. clearing the difficult 9-point. BIack63: 21115 613. gammon losses. He's a wurageous and tenacious pIayer who likes to form his opponent to earn his points. 33. just short ofWhite's bear-off total. and 30% single losses. and the two checkers on the . 32. Horan elects to take. Thafs cutting it a little dose for my raste.must mave 12 pips each. or about 30% gammons and 30% single wins. to rake. Bhck is in serious trouble d e r White's last t o rolls. total. Bla& 22: 15111 713. White will win at last 60%. C o r m or not. 30% 31.Thar1s grand total of45 a plus 24 plus 2. An excellent shot. perhaps as high as 40%. ol . Black needs 15% extra wins. w andhehasto start moving quiddyto savethe gammon. I would opt to pass. That means he needs 40% wins. Not a bad r l .

but . Horn only has a 30% chance to hit this shot (Bladc hits with any deuce. Disaster strikes! After three great mls... RE emembeIr this r u W hen rac:Ing to : 1 save t de h . This wlll enSU re that you w B mllnlmum numbel -o Also. *--* . try to brling all your outfleld checkers to the &point. White 62: 19loE 23/oR. gammon. Black 61: 18/12 7/6. 36. White 66: 1?/23(3) 19JofE White's third p t roll in a row. To play badcgammon successfully. you have to have the mental toughness to adjust to these sudden swings offormne. . Black's last play achieved rwo crosstrvers. Ofwum.HOW TO SAW! A aAMMON 34. Saving the r gammon is the wwwhelming priority. Much b e ~ c than making Black's I -point.. White t r w hos the only number that would force him to leave a shot. while his chances of being gammon& are vesy real.which is a total of 11 rolls out of 36). and a h m o d a checker to the 6-point..... quadrant to qluadrant whenwer posslblle. D a r m 13: Black on roll iga 35. Now 'Black's chances of hitting a shot arc very small. I .cross rwer fr mn rry ro .

for instance. Black hits and is back in control.and55.52. 39. Now Black i s again in danger of being gammonecl. Black's job now will be to cwer the 2-point very soon. Black 52: 21JI9* 18113. Throwing 13 or 14. Entering one man is a reasonably good throw for Black.37. point. 62. Black63: Bad19 13110*. or get very close to that. he'll be abIe to turn the cube to 4 and double White out. raking aim at all Black's juicyblots. 4 . Black62: Badly. White's job is simple:enter and e ~ ~ abefore Black can pe budd his prime. If he can make a full 6-point prime. W h i t e 62: 2/10.51. followed by making the 7-point. exposing another blot. 53. Diagram 14: White on roll 38. rwuloed in White's entering on the 1-point and breaking the 20- Diagram 15: Black on toll 41. 0 White hops into che outfield. White foUows up his d l roll last turn with a gmt shot this turn! Note that White had some rally bad numbers. Black hits! Now it's a whole new game.Another huge swing! . Black nowhas 13chances(out of36)to hic 61.63. White 11: h / 2 * 20121*(2).

Hi outfield coverage is now excellent while he's blocked'Xrhite's potential winning n u m k of 36. but he still needs to dose the 3-point before he mn double. Black 53: 18/13 1219. 45. Bladis making progress. Note too that not hitting White at all is not an option. The time to double wl come later. White 32: Bar12 21124.42. Diagram 16: Black on mII 43. White to shoot at. Bhck could have usad thiswhole r l to hit loose on the ol 2-point (6/2*)but his actual play i s better. H has g o d e control of the outfield and no immediate targets for Diagram 1 :BHck on mu 7 . Nice play by Horan. White stays out. Whitt stays out. White still has good chancesof escaping Bladc's blodcade and running home. if he can. which d n s his chances. Black can now hit w t less chance that he ih may end up trapped on the bar. Black must prevent White from getting into the outfield. i l 44. Black 11: 19/18 1019 312*(2). and he might wen stilI be able to win a gammon with a ludry throw. WhIte enters but breaks his bard. 46. Should Black be thinking about doubling? Not yet.

48. it's no problem:He just reenters h spare. brings it around. That's h not close to the 25%thatWhite needs to take a double. Black63: 913 613. Once he has s x points in a row. 6s) or slot h 7-point and i by sticking a blot there. given that he already has three men oiT? That's a question which backgammon theoreticians have already figured out. If Blackgets hit in thisp c e s s . A great shot. hoping to cwer next nun. what we really need to know is this: What is the chance that White can win the game ifhe is dosed out. White stays out. Now Black is on the verge of doubling. It shows White's winning chances in positions similar to this one when he h s a checker dosad a out but some number of men oE C n White possibly take this double! Let's see. an easy matter for Black to dose i it's his board:He just has to move his spares into h home i board. slot his 1-point. and tries again.and c m r it. Incidentally you may want to memorize the following Etde table. 4s. i Since it's emremely likely that Black will dose out the single White checker in this position. T e answer is 11%. A very dear double now. il o . 49.47. so he correctly passes. 50. a Nact turn Blackwill either r & h 7-point (if he rolls n i some combination of 2s. aftcr which Black will make the 7-point. Whitepasses. White wl have one chance r escape by rolling a 1-6. Black redoubles to 4.

knowing that he can always fall back on his holding position later. and the knowledge contained in this table may make (or save) you a lot of money.Nm Tm:- White's lance8 men off V U & . he r d e s a holding position with his opponent's 2 1point and 18-point. .. *W Horan maGcs a daring but questionable take. His control pays off and he is able to catch Pauen's last checker coming Twc1 men & Three men off Fou . Horn finally hits a desperation shot on the 19-point. but not all. The second is Horan's placement ofhis pieces to control the ou&dd after hitting his last shot.*. and Paum rolls very well to ehniiare most. of Horan's chances.Horan takes extraordinary chances to try m build a prime quidJy. With only thm checkers OKPauen has to pass Horan's eventual recube to 4. I I m m t l Piv e 25% These situations come up fairly fquently. . and offers a powerful double a couple of turns later. Learn it! SUMMARY An early set of double-fiw by P a m pins Horan in a around defensive position. and eventually fills in the last k q point in his b o d . Horan takes some reasonable chancesto improve his front game. After hitting achedcerkter. Paucn finally escapes. The first is Horan's aggressiveness in trying to build h board i when he has the security oftwo defensive anchors. Two aspects of this game repay close study. but when thwc fail.

hs . Hi doubles get a bonus in hiis situation. In the a r l y stages of a match. while Snellingsneeds only 2. - This game was pkyed in an a r 1 y round of the Las To see why this is advantageous for Magriel. %d Magriel is one of the all-timelegendsof backgammon. H $also the author of the e classic book Backgmmotp. and ts right now the score is Snellings 9. In a money game. which taught a generation of players about the elements of backgammon strategy. In the balloting to determine the rankings of the world's best. I' a match to 1I pints. he was voted #1 it1 1933 and #2 in 1995. He won the second tournament he ever entered -the Aruba tourney of 1971 and he's been winning major tournaments ever since. or horn a situation m l y in a match. Snellingswill never redouble (as we said. since if he gives a cube and Sncllings accepts. In this gamewe'll see swecal examples ofstrategic ideas that we haven't seen before .ha&-toback Bahamas Pro-Ams in 1994-95.Vegas Open in 1931.Magriel 8 . he n d s only two points to win). PLAWNCI TO THE SCORE At this score. imagine thatMagrie1doublesandsnelling accepts. The terminology for this is that Sncllmgs will own a dmd cube. with many points to go h each side.checker and cube dtcisions that are heavily influenced by the match score. since he would double and Magriel would pass.the World Championship in 1978. an 80% favorite. Wdm SneIlinp emerged on the backgammon scene in 1998 and was immediatelyrecognized as one of the world's top players. Snellinp would always win in this situation. Magriel's doubling strategy is not very different from a normal money game. withjust h w a few points left for one side or the other. But at t i score.Now imagine that Snellingsturns the game around andbecomes. Let's see just haw this works for our ~ W O combatants. He retired in 1999. cube and checker play tends to look just r 1ikemoneyplayAt t elater s o h match. His major victories include badc-to-back Children's Hospital tourneys in 197475. say. and the World Cup Consolation in 1996. players have to take the score into consideration. Magriel needs 3 points to win the match.

he mn win only three points instead of the usual bus. thus giving himself a chance to win both the gatne and the match at once). This is the preferred method of starting the game witha2 1 for almost all the world's top players. i f SneIlings doubles and Magriel takes. it has a great drawbadc it creates much simpler positions. Whire declines to slot the 20point and. by splitting. Although this might be o b j d d y asstrong as Magriel's play. A play which has become popular in recent years. but not by very much. This implies that if Snellings gets an early advantage with same gammon chances. he wins the match outright. If you war Notice that 8SnelEing-swins a gammon with the cube centered on one. If Snellings gets the early advantage. i s 12/14 1/2. that's exactly the scenario we'll see in this game. 1 White 21: 12/14 19120 . makm slotting difficult for the opponent. White is at least guaranteed a complex game. Magriel will redouble to four automatically. In fact.his all-important 5-point (the20-point in the diagram) while unstacking the midpoint. homer. [Since Sneliingsneeds only two points to win the match. especially among weaker players on the tournament circuit. - . Whitest. whereit'shard ro outplayyour opponent. Firsr of all.- tC E- e l . in that his gammons don't work for him as well as in a money game. White will make the 5-point and be off an early to edge. Since Sndlings is *onlyu80% to win. If Black doesn't roll a 4. his s t r a w is quite a bit different from normal. There's a compensating sIight downside for Magriel. If Black does hit.Snellings must play these games out to the finish. The net rcsult is that Magriel can double slightly sooner than in a money gatne. so he might as well put it on four. Magriel will pull a few of these games out in a last-minute turnaround. If he wins a gammon. ke a mart I in the backgammonworid. eate an~d le master complicated posi- . he's usually rigfir to go for an d o u b l e d gammon rather than double at all. Magriel would lose the match ifhe lost the game with the cube on two.

The play of the four offers a few options. Early edge to Snelling. 4. My own preference is for 12/16. Both plays o have their merits. and this is really a stylistic question. I've seen some players tty 24/18 1318. lke whaI? the dice givt U. White 41: 19120 115 Covering the 20-pint with the ace is of course completely dear. MagrieI's play.2. I think this is the play most likely t lead to a quick knockout. Don't tryfortrs much o Escapingache&sin the opening is a simple but useful objective. 115. This play maximizes White's buildingchances in the areaofthe boardwhere White already has an advantage. escaping the k t checker wMe hitting at the same time. but that's overplaying the position. . Black 64: 24114* 14n excellent shot. making it difficult for SneKngs to play safely next rum. however. Diagram 19: White an roll 3. Black65: 24113 Correct-There's nothing better to dowith this roll than simply run to the midpoint. spreads out the rear checkers to cover thewhole board.

are clearly forced. With the Sart two. White will have at least a single return shot. to Magriel's play 214 and 14/16Magtiel's play offers more flexibility and more future p o d rolls. The first two deuces. Bad2 and 12/14*. notice how h checkerssupporteach othet The i checker on the 16-point is guarded by the checkers on the 12point and the 10-point.d y ght for rai ther tha~ t I r ve. building a solid anchor. 6. I prefer 115. the other play offers a solid asset for the rest of the p e . asslvelyI IMPORTANCE OF CONNEC7MW Although Magriel has metal blots spread around the board. Black will hpoi& to make a second point and get right back into the game. which i turn is guarded by the checker on the 1n point.hitting and leaping into the outfield. entering. . 8. Black 42: Barl21 6/4* The only safe play here. and hope ' The chedceron the 10 is guarded by the chmker on the 5. No matterwhich blot Black is able to hit. Black 33: Bar122 8/5*(2) J3110* Unless this happens! Doubles from the bar i the early n IfWhite throws poorly. is hopeless. 7. White 22: Bar14 12/14*116 A great comeback. Bar121 and 816. hitting.This connectivity is the mark of well thought-out development. ~ning. White 64: Barl4*/lO A p d shot. leaving Black with no position and White with a M y developed game and plenty of attacking chanws.5. and building.

BIack64: 1014* 814 A firs-rate play by Snellings. Snellings e would lose all of his advantage if Magriel then reentered with a four. ciple: . point board and four blots. M t the double hit. Snellings play illustrates a key prin- 9. There was a tempting alternark of 8/4* 22116* hitting two men. 10.game will usually turn the game around..and that's the case here. Black is firmly in conml. In the opening you're trying to build solid yet flexible positions. Wirh two enemy checkers on the bar and another blot to shoot at. Black has a nice edge since he's on roll. taking into account your opponent's most likely rolls. but it's still too soon to double. 35-1 long shots wilE only drive you Into a cramped and ultimately loslngstyle Diagram 22: Black on roll of tn >n'tfall Into that Is thii a double for Black? Both sides fiave a twoNo. Should White have triod to gtmd against this possibility? Absolutely not. White 43: Bad4 k 1 3 Farced. ainst thr2 Tr . but SneMing's play is better.

W h i t e 6 5 2/11* A strong hit. Black is firmly in control ofthe gameagain. 11 White 62: Bar12 16122* . Good play. White must hit to keep Black off balance. 14.W P C EouM. ---A ---Ems a r- Manen~ asam WIII w o r m rwr 12. 13. Black42 Bat121 13/11 With the four. Black 32: Bar/22* 13111* Afmeshot. Should Black double? Diagram 23: Black on roll Diagram 24: Black on mu . 1 4 it asset. With the two. White stays out.he begins to develop the checkers on the midpoint.. A dreadfid position for White. 15. and of course White had no other consuuctive play. wlu the n W hile 19game!9 a t ry asser t m one next turn.Black I& up a permanent asset.

which would still o& good gammon chances.how could White be thinking about talung?To see why. If the players ate evenly matched.The answer is no. a s long as is t ' undoubled. . White should rake quickly! This might seem counterintuitive at first. Black will then l a d in the 1I-point match by a score of 10 points to 8. At the very least he could pin Whire in an ace-point game or a deuce-point game. Should White give up the game in that case? Intcrcscingly. we have to consider the match score again. Black needs only rwo points to win the match. quaking the swre. et when White will not be able to double. needs t r e . he) O the other hand. White will have to win two straight games to win the match. of his wins will be gammons. and then double and win the next game.'I I chance! nn. he'd win only one point. Let's sat why Black does better to leave the cube i the n middle. making the score Black 10 -White 9. w . It's that many.and uy to &eye a blib closeout. while White So BlacKs c o r m strategy is to leave the cube alone. PIAWNOI FOR AN UNDOUBLED GAMMON What makes this position so strong for Black is not that he will win almost all the games. Suppose Blackgoes ahead and doubles anyway. In other words. should Wute enter quiddy from n the bar and turn the game around. so his chances of winning two straight are 25%. and the n x game will be the Crawford game. he d win the game and the match when he scores a gammon win. White will have towin the n Crawford game.if not most. attack Whioe's blots. By leaving the cube in the middle. On the other hand. Ti might surprise many players hs who are usad ta money play but not tournament play. White's chances ofwinning one game are just 50%. E order to win the match. If Black's game is so strong that he should play for a gammon. suppose Black doubles this game. (Runember.a d n ght to 1 4 ways rl! e r rbe alomb and t - ---J--"u I-#-a --. Suppose Black doubles and White drops.

White 43: k / 3 * A good shot. BIack52: Bar123 8/3* The attack continues. with gammons being irrelevant. slowing down B l d s momentum. up Diagmm 25: Black on roll 20. Baks play not only brings a newwver number lc' for the 3-point. or 3-point game. o . Black next taka aim at the 2p i n t or thc 7-point. but. it will be more difficultt make. Bladr51: 1317 White gets a lucky break as Black Eails to cover the 3point. 16. The 2-point is more impormnt right now. Are White's chances better than 25%in that case. Overall. White will often make an ace-point. white Hay out. There will dso be games where Bkck's attack simply &ls outright and White is able to win by budding a prime of h own. 18. 21. Then the match will be decided by whoeverwins or loses this game. 19. Y :indeed! In w fact. k i n g farther away fium Baks spare lc' checkers. I would estimateWhite's raw winning chances in this position to bt in the 30-35% range.White takes and immediately redoubles to four. playing for the match right i s here would be by fir White's best choiae. but prepares to make the bar if the a d slows down. and sometimes he will dmlop a full backgame. 22. Black naturally attacks on the 3-point and b r i n ~ the reserves. B l d 5 3 : 1318 613* Playing for a gammon. 17. White stays out. deuce-point. Bladc42: 713 1119 With the 3-point made.

sees that he is nowvery unlikelyto win the battle for the 2-point. n 25. Snellings.however. White 2 : Bart I. it has the potential s . Diagram 27:Black on roll 26. one might reasonably e x p t Black to play 913 with his 6. Diagam 2 : Black on roll 6 24. the game may start to turn around. and a checker placed on the 3-point might be i danger of playinglide role in h the rest of the w e . bringing anotherattacker within direct range of the 2-point (noticethat he must enter from the bar with h 4. BlacKs attack is rapidly running out of steam. Black64 h / l S A strong and subtle play by Snellings. W h i t e 32: Barl2* Another good roll for White. If the checker i Heon the 9-point. If the battle is now for the Zpoint. and therefore 612 i not i s a option). Black 65: 1312* Black continues the assaulr on the 2-point.23. Bar12 1 A great shot! If Magriel can enter his last checker quiddy.

White makes another inner point while putting a second Black checker on the bar. 29. Avery big change on the last two rolls. Black stays out. The position is now starting to swing in Magriel's favor.This is a reasonable money double with two Black checkers on the bar. so White sends the cube over. T he good player nR U h~ a'e 1 t km fmrtitude to :adjust t:o e -. This is h e kind of subtle yet deadly accurate play that separates the world-dass professional f o the merely rm dented amateur. White doubles to 2. The game has turned around completely in the last three turns. 31. White 64: 17/23* 19/23 Very strong roll. these swings witmout 10sr contra4. BIadc stays out.oflater making the now more valuable 7-point. 28. or break a prime. Diagram 28: White on roll .althoughnot as much e as in a money game (a gammon here earns him only one exua point rather than two). In . As we say. White's doubling strategy in this situation is more or less the same according to normal strategy principles.- - - Building that mental mindset 30. Now it5 Black that has two men on the bar with more vulnerable blots in danger. H can profit from a gammon. is as much a part of becoming a top player as masreringwhento dot apoint Back to our actual position. That's b+mon!" The nature of the game is such that massive sudden swings of fortune are relatively commonplace. As I said in the introduction to this w e . .

W~thi Iast six. might seem unusual m some players. 35. instead of safely playing 15120 or 7112) The answer is that White recognizes that he's not going to be able to get all his men home before Black finally reenters from the bar. Black stays out. Black 54: h / Z l All Black can do for now is roll and hope for the best. he can get back in the game. White 42: 7/9*/13 White now has triple caverage for the 17-point. getting all of h men out from i behind B U S blockade. Diagram 29: White on roll 3 . the game could be o w . In that case. he stam the 18-point. White 21: 13/15 17/18 40. Black mn now . White 66: 1/7(3) 12118 7 A tremendous shot. If he enters fairly quickly. trs 34. he should bt able to get home with ease. Biack41: Barf24 BarlZI A great roll! With all checkers in. 38. in fact. The last five. So White sat the point now. IfWhite doesn't throw a 5 or a 6 this turn and Blackenters a checker. and the 17-point rates to havery useful steppingstone. howwer. Black has an advanced anchor (the 2 1 -point) and a strong home b o d with some VPhite checkers blocked. which is his next god. White's now in exccllent shape. White 55: 17/22*(2) 2$7 12/17 A great shot. he'll be in good shape. Why play 12117.32. If he dances for several turns. Three fives are clear: making the 22-point on Black's head and hopping out to the 7-pint from behind Black's prime. exposing himself to a roll of 44 by Black. Also reasonable. If he can h make the 17 and 18-point before Black enters. Black takes. he's going to n d some steppingones in the outfield to get home safely. 33. 39. White's best number.

Black stays out. Diagram 30: White on mu 41. 42. o White has no need to leave extra shots in the outfield. White 21: 7110 White begins to maneuver his men on the 7-point home. Black ps q u d and the first crack appears in his home board. but that's an awful play. Snellings correctly contests the outfield while he still has a b t e n i n g board.b t e n to hit any loose blots that White chooses to lavc. W h i t e 41: 7/11 10111 White's checkers piggyback their way t m d home. The 719 718 play gives better outfield m m a g e but laves too many blots if something goes wrong. White 65: llE16*122 Hits and goes r safety. 43. 45. Black 33: 24121 613 512(2) A bad throw. 44. With his home board shattered. 46. From now on. he should play as safely as possible. . Wth the game mostly won. Black51: 21116 312 Black could play safe with something like 611 312. Black would have little or no chance of winning even if he hit a lucky shot later.

Actually. White 51: 7113 Moves closer to home wKde keeping double cove rag^ of the vital 1 G and 17-points.32. Most pIayers would automaticallymove 11/14. Whltte Ifas m b very z careful leaving blots around.33. he does have a choiceofwhere to leave the shot. Magriel makes the bmcr play. 12. Since he d t safety the checker on the 1I -pointwirh this roll. White has to leave a direct shot. D i q 33: Wh. White is still a substantial favorite. White 21: 11113 13/20 Oops. 15. 11 J13 19/20.. but clearing the 15-point in a r l or two may prove more ol Although White has to leave a d i m shot.te on roll 51.Meanwhile.46. and 55). 51.the ch& ifcl on the 11-point is now under diect attack.47.23.64. 49. bringing thecheckcrdostr to home. it's not as easy to safety that checker as you might imagine.. 'White 51: 13/19 Now that Black is in from the bar.66. Blacks: 21/17(4) A great shot. In fact. dfiutthan expected. Do you see why laving the checker on the 13-point is better? . 11 of White's 36 numbers failed to get that checker to safety (21. he picks UP the checker on the 13 instead 50.

so instead he will d e n his board a little by phying 31 1 211. Diagram 34: Black on mU 56. 55.but there's no reason that White shouldnt try for that sequence.and31. 15. a total of 24 numbers out of 36. If White plays 11114. The next consideration is to see if either move gm i Black an awkward number to play. but by giving up the 18-point. or 33. and now here's a potential winningshot for Black. Black won't want to leave a direct shot with 17/14 (he might get gammon4 if he got hit).White's first prioriry is playing the roll as safely as possible.51. 53. That er won't be easy. b u s e Black's 5point is still open. Sointermsofimmediate safety the two plays are quivalmt. White har fewer rolls which clear the 15-point safely. any Black roll which does not hit can be played safely by moving off the 17point.35. Here there is a difference. Black 53: 1719 . 52.so he starts to move builders into position to remake the 5-point.That's not a big concession. He can hit with any two or six. A hit isn't guaranteed to win.12 and 21. Black has a problem with the roll of 21. Black 11: 915 The fartest way to m k a key point is to first slot it.Moving 11J 13 13/20also gives Black 15 hiall foursplus 53.25.13. or I1. 54. White 66: 18124(2) Forced play. if White plays 1 I I13. however. 5 . Next job is to d a the 15-point. White 61: 15/22 7 Another f o r d play. Moving 11/14 allows Black to hit with 15 numbers: all threes (I 1 numbs) plus 52. h x u a t e play by Magriel. In contrast. Black51: 17111 Black rnissts. ae then cover it later. White 61: 13119 22123 Home free.

That's the mse here. G o d play by Magriel. and he may get it.White also has to think about the possibility of winning or not winning a gammon. safety is not the o d y issue. leavingfew men on the 20-pointand just two men on the 19-point. i . the safest way to 61. White 53: 15/20 22Ioff VPhlte actually has three ways to play this apparently win orsave tns gammon Is e vff a ~n safely. There's also still some chance Black could be point creates contact as White tries to clear the 19 and 20-points)is to strip down to two men on t elast point h (the 19-point) as quickly as possible. Besides his a d play. He's trying for a gammon to w n the match. In this case. he could try 15/20! 23.T e best way to h win a gammon is almost always to bear off c h e k as fast as possible. Which is best? HOW To BEAROFF If White's only concern were safety. then dmr that point with a good t h m . Thatconsiderationargues forMagtiel's actual play. 60. Black 64: 17111 17113 simple mll. Now the win is pretty much assured for White. the right play would be 15120 19122. In general. 19/22 is actually the safwt w i v e h o f f technique is correct. 15/20 2210ff.beat off against contact (Black's ownership of the 21A key miss. or 15/20 19/22. Usually however. k i n g no men off but leaving three men each on the 19-point and the 20-point.White 21: 23ioff 24/off but Magiel's As before. I1 e race Ito Diagram 35:White on roll 59.

65. or 41. 69.5 1. White 63: 19loff 19122 Diagram 36:Biack on roll 62.so he's right to run.and20points). wasting no pips in his race to save the gammon. Black is only about 8% to hit ashot as White tries to dear the 19. White 65: 19loff 2 0 l d 6 . Diagram 37: Black on mll 68. which would give Black a chance to hit a winning shot. Black43: 21117 916 Black could stickaroundf r another turn. Snelling's a d playwastes one pip. BlacIcbl: 1115 7/6 Black could play 1316. hoping that o White would t h m 61. B l d 44: 2115 4 This roll pretty much guarantees that Black will save the gammon. White 44: 20124(2) 22/0ff(2) . 63. However. but it's correct since making the 5-point greatly enhances Bladis winning chances in case he docs hit a last-minute shot (in this position. an unlucky sequence could then easily wst B l d the gammon.

Magriel goes on to win the game and take a 10-9 lead in the I 1-pointmatch. SUMMARY Pay close attention in this game to the interaction between match score and cube h & g on the part of both players. SneZLings starts out with a early advantage. H d SnelIingscarcless1ydoubled a {as many players would have) he would have lost the entire match in this game. When the advantage suddenly shifts the other way. however. In a n position in which he would easily double in a money game. since he has the possibility of winning the match with an undoubled gammon. He remgnizesrhat giving h e opponent a cube which can't be retuned becauseof the match score entitles him to double quite aggrcssiwly. he declines to turn the cube. Magriel insmndy doubles.White wins a sin& game worth 2 points and takes a 10-9 lead. . however.

He's one of the most feared pros on the international circuit. Magriel's play. while vsing the deuce to bring down a builder. Diagram 38: Black on roll 4. With the deuce. I"" l8e. White 62: 117 12/14 This is the standard opening play with a 62. White's opening play of a 62 has succeeded since he's now gained considerable in the race. entering and hitring. tb . it's slightly better to get another cover number for the blot than it is to split the back men. Black 21: %I?* 13111 Hitting with the ace is of course clear. is certainly reasonable. 1. it breah the 8-point.3. At 'the time of &is game. White 62: Barl2 1/7* In and hit.In. but it does l a v e two exposed blots. Magriel was leading 12-9in a 25-point match. Black21: Bat123 817* The first d y d i f f i d play of the game. The &point Is a key openand as a rule y )U c If nt to bra=kit ju: d st . More importantly. Mike Svobodnyis the only player to havewonboth the World Championship in Monte-Carlo (in 1984) and the World Cup (in 1992). 2. . splitting the back men to make an advancadanchor. This game was taken from a ransolation match in Ehe World Cup of 1988.

Here's my rule for t h e situations: a nice point to own.. I think a dearly better play was Bad3 12114. n PVC VOUR CHECKERS WHERE THEY BELONG The other try is Bar123 615. leaving White a double shot: threes to hit on the 5-pint and fives to hlt on the 7-point. I . Actually maklng polnts Is paring I ints. on the other hand.Although the play may .-- . Howwer. i s 6 Black 51: 1318 615 . A bold andveryingenious play by Magriel! He runakes the vaiuable 8-point. doubt. so this play gets my vote. ts which can easily h o m e a uap later on as Bhck s~atts to fill in a prime. I' too early ro make h e 2-point. The drawback here is h t Black leaves three men on the24-point. which makes a new and potentially valuabIe point. then slots the key 5-point. The checkers on the 6-point should certainlybe making the 5-point. It's by fat the prettiest play. 5. which keeps the 8-poinr. diversifiesthe backcheckers.which is a d andinflexibleformation..Two otherp o d plays cometo mind. the other plays all have dtawbadcs as well. The 14-point. usually to be avoided I the early game. but it does ltave two blots vulnerable to threes and fours by White. White32 k t 2 12/15 I don't like this play. and begins to unstackthe 6-point. One is Bar124 151 11.

and White's having no iL Note that White is very well placed to start building key points like the 20point. he can't build his own key points. IfWhite doesn't hit either of these blots. homer. Black is already behind in the race. Black will build a powerhouse position very quickly.look wild. 7. u d i y that White will ever have a whole turn free to make use of the building potential of the blots Diagram 40: White on FUN 9. White and Black are going to I exchanging hits. 8. My preference is just to button up some of the blots with 14115. Mere's my logic: for the nem dturns. Magriel's play. White 55: W S * 12/22* 17/22 A great shot! Svobodny rolls the first double and consolidateshis advantage. the idea behind it is grounded i very solid n logic. Black31: Bar122 6/5* Right. is characteristic of his uncompromising style. 2 1-point. As a consequence.IfWhite stops to hit one of B U S blots. I don't agree with the play of the ace. It's x quite. if una$venfurous. Black may faoea c u b turn next roll. choice: the simple 817 23118. building the 7-point while moving out to the opposing bar. but with less chance of an accident. and 1 %point. however. I would just consolidate now. Wd four men back. That said. Black must hit and keep on hitting. . Whlte 31: 215* 313 One strength of Magriel's last play is that Svabdny is forced to hit with this MU rather than make the 20point. it's still worth notingthat Blackhad another reasonable. on thc 14 and 15-points. Wh~te would still have a flexible position. so falling a bit W e r behind is not a big risk b o d and lots of buildkg numbers.

. but his game is worse than it was a turn ago b e a u x h' on the bar. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9101112 Diagram 42: White on roll . coupled with .he'll need at least one more roll for that. yodre generally looking for twa criteria: A solid. and he should double. POUBLING IN THE OPENllNCP When you're thinking of offering a double in the opening. and almost all of them leave White firmly in control. Even if Bkdc il does rl a four or five he wo&thave budt an admaad ol anchor . 11.. Black wuld get a good back game out of this position. the game is over (Whitewl doubIe and Black must pass). Diagram 41: White on roll White could thinkabout doubling now. He hits on the two inner points to make it more dificult for Black ta anchor. dear advantage right now.The chance oFbemming a huge favorite in one turn.. Some of these sequencesare utterly devastating for Black. White 32: 17/20* 19/21* Excellent play by Svobodny.or 21-point on Black's head. White has both criteria here. If Black h l s to roll a fow or a five. es White should double now. ALE of his rolls hit at least one c& h and most rolls hit two checkers or make the 20. but he might also end up with seven mcn trapped on the 24point.

you neea a muca mrgg=!radvan ha~d your 1 a n if yo!A : play. if Black fails to roll a four or a fiw. and equally ih correce. The right idea now is to consolidate 13. you always have to be alert to the slight changesinapositionthat signalaswitchtoanew strategy. it's time for White to change w s . White 43: Bar14 17/20* In backgammon. White will double and Black d pass. as he's i running out of ammunition to build h board. however. On moves I I and 13. ayed w very mo7 &-a. though.-:- ders or :es nej a of plan.and 21-points. Again. o 15. Black 65: Barl20* with Bar13 17/21. 14. g fr a I o Diagram 43: White on n l I . White n d . WHEN TO CHANQE PUNS The super-aggressive plan he pursued before was justSedwhenWhite had plenty of outfield buildersd y to cover the blow if they weren't hit. I liked White's play of hirting and laving blots on the 20. Now.~ytims you are contern3 Now White d&tely doesn't have a double. ~r. With four of his own men sent back. Wbite 64: k / 4 14/20* The same idea as w t White's last play.to realize that a long game is in order and a quickknockout is no longer possible.

White 53: 12/20 Nice roll and well-playd White has a solid edge now. Black 11: Bar124 E d 2 3 615* Great shot byMagriel!With Black's back game firmly i place. from the hen polcsible. heduplicatesWhite's aces (Whitenowneedsaca tohit oh the 5-point and t make the 20-point). try to duplicate y'our op1 construcltlvs nua Another play was 24/18 23/18. Hitting with the ace is correct since it cuts down on White's chances of m&ng the 20 or 2 1points. White at least ernfireworks with a three-point board. and different numbers (threes and fours) to hit on the 7-point. Not only does it fail to build a front position (the 5-point through the 8point are Black's front pition) but:by giving up one of the two back-game anchors. but Magriel findsthe best play. If he had chosen instead to 1115 1318. 17. 19. White won't be thinkifigabout doubling for n some rime now. but this would have k e n bad on several counts. White would need aces to cover the 20. DUPLICATTON By making the 7-point:and posting a builder on the 6. W t e 63: Bar13 15/21 Essentially forcd. . i Diagram 44: Black on roll 18. cutting o down on Whiris total of effective numbers. Bkdc65: 137 1116 Black has several choices with t l u s roll.16. with Black's men trapped further back than White's men. it raises the specter that M i t e may resume h anack.

say 44 or 33 or 43. Diagram 45: Black on roll 20. .B l d is playing what's called a two-way game here. A pretty reasonabledoubIe accordingto the principles we discussed &r Blacks 1 t move.- Diagram 46:White on roll 21. If e seven men already rn your home r more i r b c to serengmen your prime nd still n th . --- bl . but with four Whitemtn already m p p d . He could hit thc blot on the 12-point. flexible strategy which leads to interesting games and good winning chances. Wlute has an 0h edge. since his prime is farther advanced than Black's. ifWhite pops out andhits t e blots. If White throws an awkward number.. Black may be able to build a well-timed 1-2 h back game with good winning chances later. Black31: 13/10 615 Another excellent play by Magriel. he has lots of possibilitiesof increasing h i advantage this rum. White doubles to 2. In addition. It's a fun. making the 5-point is fir more irnpomnt. Black may be able to win by keeping White's men trapped. On rhe other hand.

that is. and he mn a s hit with 54 i s lo for good measure. A hit here will pretty much end Black's chances of winning going forward.while the gamc w uldtake orher directions as well. There's too much play left to give this one up. tp It's looking like Black may be forced into a back game. mdy to hop over Black's prime with fives and sixes. White hits with 22 numbers.All h sixes and ones hit. it's not cleat how strong that back game will be. Bhck 51: Bar124 1015 Black needs both anchors to play a badc game. Diagram 47: White on rolI 25. Backtakes. Black sa out. . or he might not.a play with no possible upside. but he misreswith 14. s o jumping out with 23118 is a very bad play. White should rm play nno men f o the 3-point to the &point. There's no advantage to leaving a checker back on the 3point. Himngwith a sixwas better.themisplayoff e ace last turn may actually be impormc. This is what we call a nullo play . and Black is cmainly doing well in that case. Wife 31: 12/13* 19/22 A pretty good result. White 55: 419(3) 9/14 Ironic. 26.since it also released a back man. Although hi&g will push Black into a back game.then move the other two aces from 13 to 15. 34. 23. . by trapping White behind a b r prime. 22. Sure. White 11: 314 19121 13/14 A good roll but an odd play.All in all. 27. a good double. Black might develop good timing. He also has chances to develop a well-timed ace-deuce back gamc. but White will setde for this number.

p D-y aktention to the play . and it has the merit of duplicating sixes. the back game timing is likely to be much worse. It commits Black to a hrwardamcking strategy as the alternative to h back game. Diagram 48: Black on roll 28. - every nl one mis r@ could y costly 1 2 3 5 6 7 7 9101112 Diagram 49: Black on roll 30. which helps his timing and oudidd control. White 53: 9/14 9/12 This play i s pretty much forced. don't b - ner - tr . 1you're 4 IF 29. nlng In a back game. Black 42: 18112* T h i s puts a semndcheckerbehindafour-prime. Black 51: 24/18 Very good Black escapes a checker. This is a key concept. but if the i attacking game fails.which might actually hold up in this position. while p m e ~ n g both back game points. Breaking the prime to make the 3-point (713* 5/31 is much more problematic.

so 24118 seems dear. mming in the outfield while keep ing his prime intact. Playing 24113 doesn't really leave White my bad rolls. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9101112 Diagram 51: Black on r l ol 34. however. Bhck also has ta get spare checkersinto the oudield whenever possible. laving Blackwith just the 18-point and the 24point. A somewhat different p h is to make the 18-point . he will either move from the 3 to the 9-point. Blaclr 65: 24/18 1217 A smooth play. or just move the checker on the 9-point to safety. White needs to escape whenever he can. MagrieSs actual play clearly looks best. If White doesn't hit the blots on the 12 and 13 points. little better &an j w t the 24-pointby itself. White 52: 14/19 9111 White has to leave a loose checker somewhere in the oudield.This play.31. Leaving the checker on the 18-point gives g o d autfield coverage. he os' may have to leave an awkward shot. so he minimizes Black's hitting possibilities by leaving a blot seven pips away from the 18-point. opens up the possibility thar White will make the 23-point himself. so if White d e n t hit with a four. 33. Diagram 5 0 Black on roll 32. Black32: 18113 A reasonable play. This position iswell-known to be awry weakdefensive formation. White 5 : Bar14/9 4 A dear play. with 24118 23118.

in! . A good shot.BACK GAME SsRaTEaY Another. if you're play. If White hits both blots. and he shouldn'tbe in any danger of movinghi men to the low poinrs in his board prematurely* On the other hand. it's not at all dear that Magriel needs to make such a wide-open play. his back chedrcr could get stuck bdmd Black's prime. Under the right circumstances. reentering. Bkk62: Bd23/17 Clear-cut. White may have difficulty extricating his chedrer after normal moves. mi P old your 37. this is a bad roll for White. though. ideawas the dating 714 513*! This move can work in two ways. White 66: 11/17*13/19 14120(2) A completelyforced play.White's men are essentially home. and it's fundams a well-played back wunws. 36. Notice how Black is able to preserve his position by being hit. and completelydifferent. ping to play so I prefer Magriel's actual play. Black will be n ableto wait for awinningshotwhile he builds his home board.- L E L -I. .game. smce YOU - " . 35. If White replies with a poor shot like 5 1 or 61. Remember. White 64: 3/13* White hops out (finally) and hits. . reclrcularmg is calla!d c 89 -. they may cerrainly be correct. Strategically. and moving into the outfield. and Black's timing is still I fine shape. you need to be aware of the possibility of plays like 714 and 5/3*. If back games. and you r checKers aren4 corn 't This tecl Plletely tri~ P P = !~ V may you be! better off havlng more checlrers nlr. Black's back game timing could improve. how-. Blackesqes for more timing.

then sloa the next point of the prime. . Black's proper strategy is to slot rhe next point of his prime (in this case the 4-point) then m e r the n m rum. By that rule. White 52: 20loff 19121 Taking off a checker with the five is forced. while preparing to slot again. with the two. 39. 1 2 3 d 5 9101112 6 7 8 Diagram 52: Black on roll 38. then dear that point on the next roll. His next job is to dear the 20-point. 42. White 31: 19/22 19/20 Correct. Black covers his slotted point. Diagram 53: White on roll 43. this is the safestway for White to play 43. Black 22: 814 713 Black covers. He'll do t i u t l hs n i he has made the strongest pmible home board. 4. so Black hs springs another ch& into the outf~eld. Black 21: Bar123 514 Correct As we've seen in our previous rwo games. White clears the =most point A very good roll. Black54: 16/12 813 With the five. BIackbl: 23/16 Ti roll isnt useful for extending the prime. 41. giving 40.That's the i d 4 way to build up thc board. White 4 3 17121 19/22 The safest way to bear off is to quickly strip down xo two ch&rs on the rearmost point.White prepares to dear the 19-point next turn.

LookatWhite's position. leaving a blot! o a er this nmotif it$9 a key Idea In clefendifi8 1 many posrtsons C l - --" - * rs A I opponenrs numuers actu- aIly play. Black brings up the next builder. W h the four. D i q 54:Black on roll 46. and sixes bear off ch&s. mt be played at a l ' l.him awrysuong5-point prime. deuces. Black 63: 23/14 CRWTING snom An excellent play by Magriel. Magriel gives-te a way to play a rwa . Itwill be vcrydifficult for W h i t e to mxpe B l d s blockade. fives. 47.from 21 r 23. should he get hit later. White 22: 20122(4) ~orced. White 65: 2110fl72) 48. clearing of the 20-point. fours. aces can be played from the 21-point to the 22-point. course. the easiest way B extentl a prima is to slr he back o the Iprime. Black slots the back of the prime and prepares t cover with o a deuce. while Uauallv. l 45. Bymovingoffthe 23-point. f - That's especially true if a shot is coming soon.White now has plenty of spam and o d y two points to dear. The only other number. Notice that he can play almost all his nurnks safelyThrees. . Black22 12/10 1418 l 3 W s next p l is to extend his 5-point prime into a a full Bpoint prime. but also an excellent shot.

and this shor wiil repeat if ie White doesn't then r l a second ace.whilc21. Black gets only one shot. and a double shot ifWhite rolls an ace. Black 53: 1012 Black has a bunch of plays here. whichWhitewould play 311*loff. Also. This isn't a ol bad play. White rolls an ace or a deuce. . Homer. This gives a single shot next turn ifWhite rolls a deuce. This play is too risky. Now he has only one point left to clear. leaves a shot by rolling a deuce and Blackmisses i .49. H e couldrun tiam the back point with24116. the two loose blots arc much more vulnerable now rhat Black has lost the security of a solid point.is also good. Here are his four plays: He muld run with two men.This is by fat the weakest play.Black will enter high in the board t and lose any later shot vigorish. however. The key decision he has to make is this:What's the right arrangementofhis thtee back c h d e r s that generates the most chance of hitting White? Running off the front point with 23115 is a little better.he preserves hislater chancesofgetting a shot ifWhite rolls 21 or 22. 231 18 and 2412 1. and p m e s the option of n splittingoffthe 24-pointlater. for example. He gets a double shot if White rolls a ace. Diagram 55: Black on roll 50. IfWhite. Although Black can't get any double shots in rhi variation. w h i i guaranteeing a shot if Best ofall is to leave all the checkerswhere they are and just pIay 1012. The rolls of 11 and 22 are real crushersforWhite. T h i s minimizes the chances h a t Black will get backgamtnoned. 'White 66: 21/off(3) 22/off Another gmt shot by White. he will get a single shot if mt rolls an ace. In this variation.

51. but is it time to turn h e . and Black then doses out both chedrers. 52. He's cerrainly bewme a favorite in the game. t Black hits and simulmncouslycovers the deuce-point. That's obviously wry bad for Black Alternatively. If White expo= a second checker. he will be a huge favorite . probablyin the neighbarhood of 60%to win (if White had borne offnine checkers before being hit. but without hitting a second checker. with White$ a l d y having eight men 0%Black will be a slight favorite.AlthoughBlack is a favorite in almost all variations. Black doubles ta 4. There are a few other odd variations. Black's abaut 75% to win if that happens. Black might n e w complete his prime.actually considerably more than 90% to win. Black might hit a second c h 6 . there's nothing happening in the position that will make Black a huge 54. and Black hits it. in k . 53. Vlrhite 51: 2210ff 22/23* Finally? Now Black has a chance to turn the game cube?Let's take a look at how this position is likely t o develop. Diagram 56:Black on roII DOUBMNQ AFFER A BACK M E So -should Blackdoubleor not?Theansweris hatit's still a little premature to turn the cube. In this case. White stays out. The most likely probabiliry is that Magriel will wmplete his 6-point prime and eventually doseout White's checker.) around by hitting this shot. and White might enter and escape. then he would still be the favorite these are good facts to remember. Black 52: Barf23* 712 And he does! Withhis very best number. An interesting double by Magriel. bur White might anchor both checkers on the 1-point.Excellent play by Magriel.

Nmt turn. Ta do this." His f i r s goal is to complete a 6point prime so that White's checker will not be able to escape. *Isn't Black risking a loss if White rolls a 16 from the bar?" The answer is. White rakes. *A rnarrer of technique. Avery clear take on White's part. And finally. and that>a ways off. 16 is a great shot whether Black has a checker on the 7 or not. t ~ U W W . the long-run danger that would result from nwer making a 6-point prime outweighs the short-run risk of a 16. As long as White is on the bat. Black 53: 23/15 Plays h a t masters make routinely. and hPil have an easy mke next nun in almost w r y case. Black will have plenty of chancesto hit the chackeras it tries to come around the board. men if White rolls the 16. Black will leave the c h e k slottd on the 7-point. First of all. althoughhe's now an underdog in the game. Once you understand the reasons behind the pIay. likt leaving the bar slotted in this position. look bold to the uninitiated. rect. Second. he also gives himself eights to cover. !re%a gooa rule for dou- lng in un men In aoumr. aon-t do SU Right now he has ones to cover from the 8-point. Remember our discussion of doubling in the previous two games. hold uarv lt's a very le asset 55. not rally. By moving to the 15-point. Blacks strategy is srraightfod+r as we say in backgammon. however. In order to o&r a gooddouble. he'll move the checker on the I5point to within direct range ofthe 7-point (someplaae where a single number on a die could cover). and prepare to cover it. it's not enough to just be a favorite in the position . if carried out on the next rum. Nothing like that is happeningyet in this position. White has an easy take.&rite. will make you such a big favorite thatWhite would have to pass your double. and then start his other checkers moving. simply logical. 56. His chances won't dip below 25% until Black hits asemnd checker. .you also have to have a threat which. it's not bdd at all. The faint of heart might now inquire.

to d s his ace-point. B M s next job is to bring a spare c h e h into position to slot the acepoint. B W 44: 161-4 713 Black should be able to slot and eventually dose his ace-point without difficulty. Black has a full prime. B k k can move the spare ro the acepoint with any 6. But ifhedoes enter. Black 51: 1217 24123 From the 7-point. 61. 62. bur:numbers l i e 44 and 55 can spell trouble. and that l oe variation will then never occur. If White sits on the bar long enough. 66. White stays out. Wh~te quite happy t~ smy on the bar h is r as long as possible! Why?He has noihing to gain by enteringnow. No real danger yet. White stays out.57. White stays out. then dosing out. though. 63. so White cannot escape once he enters. Black 43: 23/16 Black comes closer. Diagram 57: Black on roll 58. he might then &ow an ace or a deuce. As we saw bebre. 64. Now he starts the next back checker moving. to slot the ace- . exposing a new checker to a hit. Black d eventuallybe forced . 65' White stays out. By the way. Black61: 24117 Black wantad to roll a thtee or a two. 60. a second checker. Black31: 817 15/12 Mission accornplkhd. Bkdis checkers could be forced into a position they don't rally want to be in. White stays out. sincehe can't escape. Black canonly become a big favorite in this position by hitting. 59.

White stays out. White stays out. mt sa out. White stays out. Black has been forced to break h arefully constructed &point prime. Diagram 58: Black on roll 68. However. but he still has plenty of time. Nine dances in a row! 72. The odds of that o c m i n g are about 17-1 against. and B1ack"smen are almost all the way home. He can't cover the onepoint. as a matter of fact. it's been a very lucky break far White. Black31: 411 17/16 Finally Black gea to slot. Now White i really does want to roll a ace! n 73. and he a n t wen get a new number to wver-If he can't roll a six or a two next turn. Diagram 59: Black on roll .point. he may have to brwk his prime without ever dosing h bard. Ten dances in a row. 67. BIadr43: 714 713 An amazing sequence. i 71. Oops. He's never had to a p s e a second checker. 69. White has stayed out for eight consecutive turns! That's very unlikely. it t y 70. Black 54: 16J7 This is almostBlacksworstroll.

which should be h best shots. 32: 5/off 77. he may yourself with an even numon your ts. Counting crossovers is a quick way of getung an estimate of who's ahead in the race). Black 62: 6/off 614 . the rolls o f 66 and 55.White finally enters. while if White rolls small numbers.is 714 31 1. It looks like White is ahead. White will have t cross two quadrants to get o h checker into the home board. ' 78. meanwhile. White mt move. Bkck32: 7/5 4/1 4 Black finally w e t s the ace-point. White 63: Bar19 After a long time on the bar. To kOK. is on r l needing 13 crossol overs. m mt mwc. but makes a slight techniml error in doing s . ) r In most s br br e e D i q 60: White on roll 79. (A crossover is just a move of a dLecker &om one quadrant to anorher. leaving o Blackwith aneven number ofcheckerson thetwo high points.After B l d s actual play. then bear off seven s checkers. but remember that Black is pretty much guaranoed to bear off two checkers each turn. tv 75. or off the board. Black.7 . actually leave a blot on i s the 5point.B m r w.That's a total of nine crossovers. t e ' 76.

. Black will actually win this position less than 20% of the time. Even though Black mlls a large double in the beatoff andWhitedoesnt. Diagram 61: White on roll 85. White 22: Zlioff 22/24(2) Avery dear redouble. and you haIve botlh fewer checkers and fewer .* are alml PI -- a 1 doua~m.you need fewer checkers thanyour opponent in order to take. asuresign of an incorrect take. bearln! II 01T. In general. 81. If both sldes are. 8 . White 41: 2 1 f 241off 7 20f . not the 25% he needs to take a double. 80.Bhckstillloscsthegame. Black 53: 5/off SloR A good roll.22 to 24. White also leads in the pip count.have : B 82. ifyou d in the pip count. White has seven men left. This is even more true when most checkers are off the board. Exmilent!White should 'be able to redouble next turn.This is a dear pass. taking men off the highest points. Black has nine.fail to get a crossover. Black 63: Slaff 3/off 84. as here. White 33: 9/21. Black takts. No.

Svobodny jumps out t an arly lead. Magriel quickly redoubles and completes a full prime. characteristic of modem backgammon at its best. White 65: 221ofq2) White wins 8 points. H gets around quickly i s e enough to win by one rl. Over the nem few moves Magriel's position improves as he builds a block of his own. Svobodny eventually enters from the bar as soon as Magriel opens h board. Finally Svobodny gets to o h another good double as Magriel i s forced to expose a couple of blots. His good technique pays offas Svobdny leaves a shot and gets hit. A quick hit leads to Magriel's playing a classic. Magriel shows p o d defensive tdmique in opening the 2-point at just the right time. but Svobodny stays on the b r and thwarts Magriel's plan a to catch a second checker. but o mi= a chance to give a good double on move 11. SUMMARY: The game begins with an all-out svuggle for controlof key points.89. ol . well-timed 1-2 back p .

The checker on the 15-point gives White some new point-making numbers. He has an especially h e record in the World Cup. 21-point.5 1. Al told.To achieve this buildingpotential. This gamewas played in the finals of the Reno Master's tournamenr of 1992. 25-22. The idea of Snelling's play is to bring down builders to make the kqr 20-point. For building purposes. and he points on you. the checker on the 16-point is actually a little more valuable than a checker on the 15-point. Joe Sylvcstes burst onto the backgammon scene by winning the World Amateur Championship in 1983. Blackwill be able to hit a blot about one l time in t h e . ifyou t o &ma ckodcc. Hi blots on the 16 and 15points are exposed to hits if Black throws any eight or mine. and 18-point. while the split to the 5-point preparts to make the most valuable anchor. The play which has b a n most popular for the part 15 years or so is 115 12/15. 1. S P L l P r e l W G IN THE OPENINQ A new play. which he e v e n d l y won. The c h d e r on the 15-point is exposed only to nines. Sylvester was leading 5-1 in the 25-point match. If you split there. The idea of splitting to the Cpoint rather than the 5point is part of a new theory of splitting: Dm't split to thepoint cbatyuropponmtMOSTwanf~ d e . there are several popular ways of playing an opening 43. and 63. winning World Cup I in 1988 and finishing second in World Cup IV in 1994. The point that Black most wants to make in this position is his 5-point.has to take certain risks. Wkite 43: 12116 12115 In top-flight backgammon today. as it generates more new point-making combinations. each with its own adherents. so W h i t e is less likely to fall behind in the race after this play. like 62. is 114 12116. he's accomplished twa objactives at on= puttingyou on the bar and making the best point . White Two other phys uy to achieve a balance between budding and splitting with a bit lcss risk. which has been gaining popularity in the last few years. He has since won many Amaim tournaments including the Reno tournament from which this game is taken.

Tlu game i s about even. Black can accomplish one o b j d w at most. Diagram 62: Bkck on roll 2. and you escape one ofyour back checkers. Hittingamomplishtsr w o g d things:yougainground in the race. but he mn't do i both at once. y IU e hlt. Diagram 63:Black on roll . Making a point accomplishes only one g o d thing. Glven a choice between h Br blot on slae rn tne moam ana makI1 S olnt.in hii b o d . That's right. He can point on Wire. White 51: Bad5 15/16* Entering and hitting is clear. Black 53: 24116* Black could &o make his 3-point with this roll. Two good t i g art bmcr than one g o d thing hn 3. but he chooses to hit instead. If White splits to the 4 p i n t insttad. or he can make h best point.

4. puts a second White &checker on the bar. . and the bat or the 4-point should follow soon. 6. however. White takes. 9.Hitting here is right. Making the 5-point is virtually a sure i thing. for the same reason as in the comment to m m 2. although there's another good play: Bar120 24/20 (making the 20point in thiswayi s known as *A Barabino. 8 i c 2 : 615* 13111 1lk1 Simple and very strong. Black 54: BarllG* Black hits. White rolls 66 and stays on the bar.4 5 6 f a ~ i o i i 1 2 Diagram 64:Black en roll 8. he has escaped a chadEer while W u t e has four men back. He has a big lead in the race (1 56 pips to I89). One reason that hitting is so pawerful in the early game is that these disaster shots arc always lurking around when you're on the bar. White 62: k t 2 A fine double by Sylvester. as that was the only number that wouldn't let him enter. BIack doubles to 2. and prepares to build the 5-point. It's hard to do more with a single roll. White stays out. 5. Black is ahead in ail key phases of rhe game. 7. A badbreak. A m n g double. and he has plenty of builders in position to work on h prime." in honor of Rick Barabino.ThatmeansW h i t e shouldhavenotrouble entering and starting h own development. Just bemuse Black has a double doesn't mean White should drop. White i could crate a high anchorgame. Sylvester unsmch hi two big points. i 2 3 . Next turn White wilI likely face just a two pointboard. a massiveback game.who has rolled this number in many game-savhgsituations).

Games which hinge on sruggles for key points ate usually the most complex and demanding. preparing for more 12. Good take by Sncllings. although it's one of the few numbus that doesn't make the 5-point. Black42 k t 2 3 6/2* Aswe indicatedbefore. Black43: 815 6/2* S y h t e r c o r d y goes for the throat. H goal now is b topmmt W i t e f i m csiublkbing a smndanchor its d t h m Goad That second anchor would give White a full-fldged back game. W t e 32: Barl2* Whke's m m will bt forced for some time. That dance just gave Black a healthy initiative. 10. with winning chances in the 35%to 50%range. after which the batde will shift to other fronts. Diagram 65: Black on roll 15. but there's plenty of play left. 11. W h i t e mays out.or a counter-prime of his own. Black55: 16/11 1313 813 A constructive shot. thls turn on the bar may give Black the time to pin If Black can capture the bpoint and force W h i t e to play just a pure ace-point game. White 64: Bad4 . Dancing now is much more serious &an dancing two nzms ago. 13. It's often the w e that a point becomes so valuable that both pIayers throw aZI their energies into an all-out struggleto make the key point. He's certainly an underdog. depending on howwell-rimed the back game turned out to be. White into an ace-point game. Black maGes the 3-point and the 11-point. Here he can only enter one checker from the bar. White's winning chanccs will be in the 20% to 30%range. and it certainly justifies attadcing on the tpoint until Black nrns out of ammunition. 14. That's a big improvement for Black. Bladrwill attadconthe 2-point until someone makes that point. progress next turn.

and this o play is a good example. IfWhite can malu the 4-point. White atays out. only provides a builder for the 4point. he'll have what's mild a 1-4 back garne. the 7-point will be the next battleground.know how c use their checkers efficiently. 19. after which the chechr on the I 1-point wodd be a r for the blot on the 6-point. White stays out. If White makes the 4-point. Now a new struggle develops over the &point. Top players . There was another reasonable way to accomplish the same objective: 714* 614. Black32: 714* 1119 Hits on the Cpoint and brings a checker w t i direct ihn range to cover. Playing 1 117 has accomplished two objectives with one play. That's nor one of the strongu back ~~. Black64 8f2 I117 First mission accomplished: BIack has made the 2point. but it's also a slot for the 7 itself. USlNQ CHECKERS EFFICIENTLY The checker Black placed on the 7-point is a builder for the 4-point. D i q 66: Black on roll 16. as opposed t a play like 1319. 17. which o Diagram 67:BIack on roll IS.The plays ate about equally good. but it will still be far more dangerous than a simple ace-point game.

Diagram 69: White on roll 27. and he now slots the last point he needs to make: the 7-point. BEafk32: 23121 13/10 Playing 13/10 provides two cover numbers fot the 7point (sixes and threes). 24. 23. W t e I I: Barll(2) 19/20(2) A p t shot. 2 . BlacL61: 20113 This escapes one back chedcer. White smy-s out. 1 26. White stays out.Although Black is miZL favored to get his back chedter to safety eventually. he gets the back checkers moving with the deuce. Diagram 68: Black on roll . Black31: 7017 21/20 Black completes his 6-prime with the three and continues moving in back. Whiteas chchcckers will h locked i n behind six points in a row. White is back in the game and can start building a prime of his own. 22. white stays out. 25. and Black can then start moving his badc men around 20. Once he makes that. Since Bkck can't do better than that.and suddenly it's a much more interesting middlegame.BIack 65: 914 1317 Black has won the fight for the $-point.

W h i t e d l havem build it very quickly.or12114 17120. while having only the spate on the !+point to mwt in case ofan awkwatd number. In ordm to build a prime. Black41: 1319 24123 Here's an example of how things can get awkwatd quickly. a couple of indirect shots. Why did he instead choose to leave a direct shot on the 21-point at a time when Bladis board is so strong? eurLDmca A PRIME QUICKLY Part of the answer is contained in my comment to a previous play.28. Time constraints provide another argument for dotting and covering White just doesn't have the luxury of waiting around to throw p e r k numbers. The most efficient i way to use your checkers is to put them righz on the points you want to make. White's second problem is time. He could try the simple 12/17. Note that since the prime keeps four of White's checkerspenned in. White has only 1 1 checkers left t play with. ih Since Black won't move the 12 checkers that make his prime. leaving a blot there. With four i checkers already trapped. he has to play the four from the midpoint. Black has only one checker to escape. he'll then have to escape two checken from behind White's position. 29. He has several safe plays availableto him. That's not enough to complete a o prime of his own. It will be costly for him ifthis blot gets hit. or 121 15 17119. White 32: 12/15 19121 An excellent play by Snellings. he has o d y 11checkers left. That's just enough to build five points with a spare left wer. Pretry soon he's going t thmw a o numberwhich will get him out ofWhite's home board. For aprime to be useful.Moftheseplaymarginally increase his building opporruniua at the cost of. even w t optimal placement. Diagram 70: White on roll The last factor to be considered is the downside of . at most. White's going to have to tlse h checkers very efficiently. White just doesn't have very many chedrers left to build a prime of h own. Black of course will keep his 6-prime as long as possible.

while his other big numbers (fives. 30. after which White will have to hit or else revert to a straight ace-point game. he'll have to give up the 7-point pretry soon. In fact. Playing 17121 stems so obvious that 9 out of 10 top players would make the move in a flash. Ya Snellings h s e s to cover the blot. E o ~ eBlack to mave the s checkers on his 8 and 9-points inm his board. while moving up to h e 22-point g k two numben m escape (sixes and fours) rather than just one (frves). 1 2 3 4 5 b 7 8 9101112 Diagram 7 1 :White on roll 31. A& 17121. Now Black has only sixes to leap. What Snellingsre&& is ta it's so hugely imporrant ht for him to break Black's 7-point that it's worth taking t play. The best way for White to avoid ~ being gammoned is to w i the game. 19121 and 12115. and threes) a e stopped. at some risk. of course. and instead l m m it exposed while making a different blocking point.fbr instance. fivcs and fours will make him brak his 7-point. fours.slotting. and the b a t play for that is Snclling's play. slotted the 2 1-point. If Black has r play those numbers on his t o side of the board.Amll of54. Black 51: 1318 23/22 Playing to the I-point gets one checker out of danger.White is likely to get gamrnoned anyway if he loses this game. What happens ifWhite slots but gets hit?Thc downside. on the other hand. Now he rolls a number that not only w v e r s the 21-point but d m so while leaving a good distribution of builders. But notiaethat with four men already back. . Black redly has only one spare turn. Black can leap into the ou&dd with aM fours and sixes. is that White's more likely to get gamrnoned in that case. Nem turn. in fact probably the most dificult play to find in dl the games in this book! Last turn White. White31: 15/18 17118 This unassuming little move is an incredibly p Makhgthe 18-point. Whafs going on? WKINa THE R I Q W WlNTs The slight problem with making the 21-point is that it's rally no longer an effective blocking point. forms amuch better blockade.

and a marvelous e~amplc of Snding's talent for the p e . . Diagram 72: White on roll 'Bladt55: 7/2(2) There goes the 7-point! Now any six leavcs White in arcellent shape. 32. t i Isn't such abad roll. Once the 7-point goes. Black 51: 615 No 5. White 33: 12121 18121 Not a six.the e m a chan~e bemg hit. rm 36. He hs preservahis positionfor anotherrollwhilewaithgh a six. Since B l a c k d t play f m . White 42: 12118 White keeps h blockade in place and prepares to i make the 2 1 -point. 34. 33. 35. 37. A very difficdt play to find.butWhite is able to male five pointsin a m . and the timing of the game will once again hvor him. of White can move back into the outfield with some of those checkers on rhe 1-point. Whiw 63: 1/10 A great shot. Notice howefkiently he has used his checkers since he entered f o the bat. keeping his prime while covering the oufield. Black 53: 916 813 The plan starts to pay off as Black is now stripped of builders.

h e winnler is us. 41. Black scnys out.. B M stays out. Black 62: 22114 Running for home. &LA I*---. White 44: 18/22(2) 14122 White's last two rolls were very good. 40. but this shot gobbles up most ofhis remainingtiming. n 42.-& 1 1 and c 1s I be esp rollsten valuablc 43. . roll he stays on the bar keeps his prime horn brmking. White 53: 17/22 17/20 White's timing is getting c r i t i d . White 43: 20124 21124 Just small enough to keep his board i n t a d 46. Black stays out. Black rstays out. $4. Ti is a typical sintation hs battles. Now he needs a six very soon.Therewas no way to preserve fiveconsecutive points.38. Dancing is actudy not so bad for Black. in prime against prime 39. White 31: 10/14* Halt! Black goes back behind the prime. so White stto fill i his bard.ually th layer wlho can keep hl Am.. since every 45.

IN sl k. Diagram 75:White cln roll . Black stays out. White wi8 hop with sixes. and by breaking the &point. Thii has the effect of preserving his prime longer. b.Whitekeepsafivepoint board. this rolls cracks in the least destructiveway. hold yo1 vPU'II . 50. White 11: 22/23(2) 19/20(2) At four turns without a six. Diagram 74:White on roll 49. White 52: 20122 Wlute's idea pays o f as he has t mow only two pips. 48. but he won't have to play fives since he has no checkers left on his 6-point. 'Blackstays out. f o 47. war s t prime lrways t0 dcular numbers. White kills fives. On subsequent turns. White's position finally fu KILLING NUMBERS Fortunately for him. 4 lr be posrlblaB P rime as ' .

SneIling's more conservative play is dearly correct. This isn't one of those situations. lc' doubling if Black stays out is nor an option here. this more bold play i correct. Black stap out. 54. White 51: 13/14* 13/18 7 White has a choice with this phy After hitting. 53. helping him keep w h a t ' s left of h i 52. particularly if White could turn the s cube after Black dances. Black will be in control again. SinceWhite stillhas to escapeone more c& h from behind Baks prime. wen though White probablywon't ever m k the 19ae point. Black stays out. 58. 1 2 3 4 5 b 7 8 9101112 Diagram 76: White on roll 56. he could keep the chedGer ping and slot the 1Ppoinr with 13114*119. Bladc65: Bad14 After eight turns on the bat. . In some situations. White65 1/12 W e n t . 55.otherwise be a winning numhc ber. White61: 118 Another greatshod One more sixandWhitewill be the favorite. 5 . Black stays out. Black finally enters.51. If White doesn't get an ace or a six. The checker on the 1LpointwillbuyWhite a few rnoce turns. White 51: 8/13 12/13 Making Ehis point has h e advantage of blocking a 66 by Bl& w i h would.

White is a favorite. we have to take a dose o bok at how White's different numbers play next turn. In this group. White rolls a 6 and hops Black's prime. W~th 1 1 the remaining numbers. With 11 of his 36 rolls. 61.3 1. Grouping similar numbers together. White's 36 pos- . For the first time in the game. 33. and 21. White 51: 14/19 lSlP9 But the dice always have surprisw in store!White r h o his k t number. These numbers are all fives except 65. for instance.59. and m d u m doubles: 44. W~th of 14 his 36 numbers. These nurnbers are terrific for White. After a roll like 32. H e becomes more than a 95%favorite in the game. he becomes the favorite in the game. Now he's a dear favorite. White bre& a point in h i board. can Black take?The answer is yes.h e e n numbers. sible throws fall into three main categories: Group A -White's best numbers. White's position deteriorates but his board m a i n s dosed. closing the b o d . n So. and Snellings immediately doubles! Es the double correct? 6n Black accept?Lts mke a closer look e' T understand this situation. the game becomes a race to see who can roll a 6 first. the take is quite easy. White's very happy if he has already doubled.the 43 roll.. In fact. and ifs more likely that will happen next rum than that White will escape. With Black now the first to shoot. After any of these rolls.I n .small numbers l i i 41. White doubles to 4. Black becomes a favorite in the game as smn as White's board breaks. and 22. giving Black a chance to enter. White's board will break on the following turn on a y roll that does not contain a 6 . Group B -White'sworst numbers. Diagram 77: White on roll Group C .

Now the game is just about m r . a T h e inducement to double is that White can become a huge favorite ifhe ralis a 6. leaping into the outfield Black rolls a 6. you want your spares on the high points i yout board n rarher than the low points. White rolls a 6. White does a lide bmer waiting.C nWhite double!Actually Whiteshouldwait a turn. 63. he bacomes aslight underdog. numuers than .Black mtmove. W t e 6 1 : 118 A fine roll. 4 ' In thest variauons. 67. White 54: 13/22 A forced piaY White hasn't achieved a particularly .. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9101112 This particular sort of position arises fairly frequently. 6 . 42. The doubling cube can be very useful t~ White i variations like the fonowing: n White breaks hii 1Bpoint. 65. White will be very happy that he can offer a powerful double later at an o p d time. Black takes. I erwise wadt. White 41: 8/13 Notice that White leaves h spates on the 20 and 22i points where they are. On balance. For the safest possible bear&. If not. Black can't mow. I --- b I then dou numbers.corning in on the 19-pointand waiting for Wute to come around. 66. A good rule of thumb is h i s : Diagram 78: White on roll more e If! you havt: . Black stays out. This will give you dmum flexibility for playing your later r l s ol.

i Although it's slightly safer than the simple 221off (becauseit allows Black to enter immediately and get out of White's hair). and playing 221off maxirnim those chances by keeping a dosed board. 7 . Black can't move. GAMMON CHANCES Diagram 79: White on roll 69. Vlrhlte has some small chancesofwinningapmmon in this position. there was no way ta avoid this situation. It's wrong because of two other factors: It's not the best play for the gammon. White 11: =off 20121 Small doubles are very useful in the bearoff since they allow you to ratrange your spares as you please. However. SAFEW VS. Black can't m a Diagram 80: White on mu 7 .good bearoff because he has an d d number (five) checkers on b two highest points. 70. i given his rolls. safety is not the only consideration. Now White has an even number of men on h high points.White 31: 21/& 1 . White 2 : 19120 19/21 3 1 This play is an error. This will forceh i i to expose a blot if h next roll is 55 or 66. 72.

but Black will need a fewmore to get back i the game. 3 18 17 16 15 14 1 8 76. n 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 0 1 1 1 2 m wnen In aoum. is lastlikely towinagammon. 24 23 22 21 2 19 0 In most bearoffs where the possibiliry o contact stdl f r m i s safety is only one goal. Black 66: Bar/l A great shot. Black 31: 3loff I/off . although rhe plays are close. White 32: Uloff 23loff 80.These decisions ate often quite dXcult. White 21: 20121 22/24 Again. Dear ow Diagram 8 1 :White on rou 35. This play is safer than the alternative221ofE However. Black 55: 51ofY3) 611 8 Another p t shod White has 11 checkers left against Black's 12. 7 . White makes a slight error. 221off bears offanother checker and makes the race even more secure. Bur Black is now within striking distance. Opening the 19-pointgives Black the chance of rolling66 and getung badr in the race. Incidentally.It's not the best play for the race.which. 74. the safest play of dl is the simple 20122 21/22. because the chances o f either losing or winning a gammon are pretty s a l ml. Black stays out. 79. against the d u e of more dangerous plays which haw a better chance ofwinninga gammon. It has to be weighed ean. however. The net result is that 221off is slightly better. 221offis slightly better bemuse it leaves a position which is nonetheless quite safe and which is much more likely to win a gammon.so he's s u l l a big favorite.

84.81. White 52: 2lloff 2310E A single double now could win the m e for Black d 86. Black65 41offI2) 85. while the im- different points. White 41: 2Iloff 241off InI genera11. White's play lets him bear off both checken next tum with 23 (out of 36)numbers. Black 52: Slog 210ff Diagram 82: White on roll 83. you s IDiagram 83: White on ways bear checkers off with direct numbersrather than try to improve your di Lureroll!9. try t keep checkers spread out on n o The extra checkers off ate permanent. White's actual play is considerable better than 21 loE21122. which some players might have chosen. %e t 51: 2Ilofl 22123 I the bearoff. 87. Black 62: 61off 21off 7 16 15 14 13 proved distribution may n m r matter. The blunder 2lIoff 21122. purting both men on the 22- . White 61: 201off Woff 82.

SnehngS prime holds and he is eventually able to free his back men. These plays are difficult and will repay dividends later with careful study.Realking drat he needs m b d d a prime quickly to get more than a simple acepoint game. and then displays perfect technique in pinning Snelling into an ace-paint game. Study Sybter's plays in this phase of the game carefully. W h i t e wins 4 points. White 42: 2lloff 23loff Perfect! This roll might have lost the game had White misplayed roll 87. only lets White get offwith 17 throws. he m a t t s counterchanceswith excellent plays at moves 23 and 3 1. .point. since this situation sises frequently in backgammon. Lookat the last fewrnwes of t egame for some lessons h in balancing s p e d and safetywhen bearing offagainst contact. SUMMARV: Sylvester gets o f to an early edge. doubles at just the f right time. 89. Snellings finally works up some counterplay with a timely throw of double-aces.

then bring a builder into play with 12/ 1 . This game was played during round 16 at the 1987 World ChampionshipinMonte Carlo. while postponing running until later. I've s t d avaluable anchor and controlled the outfield as well. I'm off to a good start in this game. Black 42: 24/20 13/11* Hitting is dear. By moving out to the 7-point. he p m n t s me f o hitting and makingan inner point at rm the same time. making it difficult for Black to escape a checker. I. %te 61: Bar17 Apoorshot. With the four. but thercino otherway toplay it. and Robertie held a 9-8 lead. Diagram 84: White en roll 3. of course. since he can't then make a point on my head unless he rolls doubles.M idea in the opening is to fight tbr key anchor6 y inglblocking points. . White can't play 1211 8 since rhe chBckerwould be exposed to a double shot. The matchwas to 21 points.Michael Harris was one of the top English players during the 1980s. This move mostly escapesone checker and brings some strength to White's outfield. I like to split to the 20-pointwhile my opponent i s on the bar. 2. is to split to the barpoint with 117. which J prefer. White 64: 1/11 One of the two popular ways of opening the game with a 64. Meanwhile. The other play.

while the up- . while the two makes a new point.318 leaves White worse off on both sides of the board while still facing annhilation if Black can get an attack going. . a loose six in opening shou[Id be ed to the!opposllng bar- polnt rather than 6P your o m bar-point. In the long run.the 5-point is the key t successful opening strategy You must battle for the o 5-points rather &an surrendering one or another to your oppncnt. Bladc42: Bad23 24120* Here Black has to choose which 5-point to fight f r o. aU I F -Id- - 5.eneral. A passive play like Bar122 1. White 53: Bad5 17120* White enters and hits. fighting f r control of both 5o points. .- . l hit with the six. This is true even if you risk falling behind in the race as a result. actively fighting for the 5-points is the last risky way to play the opening. In modernbackgammon. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9101112 Diagram 86: Black on roll Diagram 85: White on roll 6. Is less. The down. . side + ter.

It's probablytheweakestreasonablechoice. I gzt my bar point. As a consolation prize. White 21: 29121r 20121 White has many choices with rhi move. at the cost ofleaving a return shot. I wuld have played Bar121 715*. a p t result for him. Now W h i t e may be able to grab both 5-pints. In rhis cast. L L 1 2 3 4 5 6 789101112 Diagram 8T: White on roll 9.. A nice roU. 19/20 19/21*. h i d e s this move. making the 2 1-point while leaving no shots. rnaking the20-point. the play I madc is better since it guaranrats a gain in the race while contesting apoint.This play has the great virtue of m&ng the most valuable point on the board. Hi play is obvious. Otherwise. fighting for White's 5-point. Black 64:Barf21 1317 Not the bat. fighting for my 5point. I didn't like giving up the midpoint. 8. it won't accomplish much. -*a .things 1 aerrerrnan a play s . White 51: Bar15 19120* White makes one 5-pointwhile fighting h the other r and unsracking his pile on thc 19-point.hitungmmen. - Rememkr this basic rule: A lplay that does t 1 . . Whia could try: 12/13*19/2l*. .Which 5 Poiat? Besides the play I made. but the 7point is key to building a blockade against White's back men. Just 01 thl i tY .The realmeritofthe play is that this is likely t be a wry long game o - 7.Thisplaywi~ look great if Black docsnt roll a fbur or a five coming back. as I really wanted to hit back on the 20point.

the game is a b u t even. I I. the more effective the strong points are. The longer the game. White has the better mrucnue. Right now. since there are so many hitting plays available. A lot now hinges on whether Whtc mn now hit with a one :ructural play may me . nullifies certain possibiieies for your opponent each roll. The non-hit is a hard play to find. The non-hirting play actually gives White the best board control. Diagram 88: Bhck en rou 12. hittingno checkers.This is aaudly my first choice. but diversifying off the midpoint. by definition. Black stays out. A strong point. I remake the midpoint and escape the last checker. White 52: 12/17 12/14 White brings more builders to bear on the 20-point and the 18-point. and my position improves dramatically.d long game the v a l m nf ng point 10. . ~ ' v e al ready good pa~sit'lon. TO HIT OR N T TO HIT O Another possibilityis 19120 12/14. He also complem the job of unsmcking the midpoint and bringing his checkers into play. Black55 k l l 5 23/13 A nice shot. The hit here doesn't a c w m p l i much since Black has no threats which need to be prevented.e imputrtant t ie hit. but Blackleads in the race and has the makings of a blockade.

make a bold play. If your inner board is stronger. so a bold play is called for. make a b l d play If his inner board is stronger. The choice is between the s f 15121 and the boid ae 14/20. IfWhite misses. Paul Magriel.or a three. n a brealahroughat the time and have since beenadopted by all the top players. Those criteria were Here Whire has three men back. (3) Who has more men back?If you have more men back. Diagram 89:White en roll 13. White 6 3 12115* 14/20 White hits with the three and then has a choice on how to play the six. Here White has the stronger inner board. we will still have a complex game. This argues for a bold play. Otherwise. Let's look briefly at Magtiel's criteria and apply them to the situation at hand: (I) Compare the strength of the innet boards. Black 141 after White's play White trails in rhc race. They remain as valid today as when the book was published. make a safe play. H can't move h back men. Ifyour opponent has more men back. Herethe pip count is White 155. you ate inclind to play safe. make a & play. This a r g w for . while Black has only one man back (on the bar). (2)See who is ahead in the race. BOLD PLAY VERSUS SAFE P U V Some 20 years ago. developed the criteria for deciding ktween a safe play and a bold play. If White hits. i his great work n Backgammon. and e i s breaking the midpointwith 12118 doesn'tlook appding. Ifyou are behind in the race. the gamewill become a holding position with White anchored on the 5-point and waiting to get a shot later i the game. you are inclined ro play boldly.

I cant move the back checker. 15. Unlike in chess. 16. which is likely t take several more o 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 0 1 1 1 2 moves. since he's way ahead in the race. That's Diagram 90: Black on roll The answer is no. Very nice play by Harris. All three criteria argue for White to play boldly. Bladc41: BarfZQ* Ohwell. 14. m t s Sice he must build this prime quickly. White stays out. it may reenter the game and go to a more consuucrivc position. he to slot the key points rather than wait to roil them naturally. But the game could still g t very e wmpiicated. Black has an advantage. Black 31: 817 613 White danced.The right idea is to preserve all the points I own and throw away one of the useless checkers stacked on the 6point.a bold play from White. Hence the slot is best. and Bladrhasno home-board pointsyet. backgammon. behind in the race with more men back. . Should Black double? Ti roll shows just haw quickly a good-looking hi position can deteriorate if you have no inner board points. however. so I have to leave a blot somewhere. i s very likely m have to play some sort of holding game or back gamc in order to win unlesshe can quickly build a counteringprime against BlacKs single checker. White made a good play. but it didn't work. The overall sttategic idea is that White. If that gets hit. A double would be very premature. in backgammon you only get rewardd for your good plays a percentageof the time.

White 41: 12/13*/17 White hits and makes a little more progress. Ikn looking for a chance t make a break for home. then E need to find a g o d six. I don't like . I need to find the least damaging six. Since there are no "good" sixes. That leaves 1317 as the least evil choice. my only ace is 71 6. and White would have ones.but 121 I3* 12116 looks a little too lmse with nebulous btne6t. He doesn't really like putting the checker on the 17+pint. Playing 711 puts a checker out of play.but at least my 1 1-point serves some of the functions of a midpoint. givingup the midpoint. and twos to hit me i f 1 ran. Diagmm 92: Black en rE oE 20. and thii could be o m y best shot. Black65 Bart20 1317 The five is forced. On the other hand. since I'm still ahead in the race. BIackSl: Bar124 20/15* An interesting roll. thms. White 42: Bar14 1/3* Clear-cut. fives. That's certainly not constructire. Playing 20114 is out of the question: I need the anchor here.17. White catches up a little in the race. 19. which I rally don't want to do in this complex position.s. If I play Barl20. It seemslike I'm going to need all 15 oEmy checkers in play to win the game. Diagram 91: Black on roll 18.

giving him a 4 5 back garnc. Checkers not needed to holdvitalpoints should keep flowing into the outer boards. Good back game m play by Harris. 1 2 3 4 5 6 789101112 Diagram 93: W h i t e on toll 2 . Diagram 94: Black on roll . 23. Blackwants to shut the door on recirculation. White 42: Bar14 315 1 hit. Whke51: 5/10 17/18 With two back-game poina made and recirculation easy for the time being. Black61: 20114 15114 Black makes the 14-pointand mkes aim at h 9-point i and 10-point. and it's crucial for maintaining good timing. it's vital not to get extra checkers stuckin your opponent's inner board. recirculation gets more difficult and White's game could get cramped. Meanwhile. This is a game White is going to have to w n i later.White can just slot the points he wants and s if he can make them.White only has ones and threes to hit me.k u s e of the duplication. This process is called rmirculation. and moves his spare to the 5-point.If Black can make the 9 or 10-points. ready to leap out with fours and fives. White wants m recirmlate. so he buiids the 4-point. RECIRCYLATION W h i t e can't When playing a back game. 22. White has no worrEcs about being hit.Breaking the anchor now is much less dangerous than it was last turn.

He'll tryto s o lt the 20-point or the 22-point. though. White will build the 20 and 22-points. . Suppose I could move those chackers backwards. Black 65: 24118* 712 The hit with the six is dear. let's say after 24118*113. After that. BACK QAME STRATEQtY First. If I could mwe them back to the 13-point or 15-point. when I wuld just keep my back checker moving with 18/13) o undcrT smnd this play. Mort likely. and gpoina. These checkers wl enter my board easily. This scenario doesn't look too promising for me. If I'm ludcy. and here. Right now.Why deliberer ately sacrifm a checker with 712. just as White has been doing with his checkers. Meanwhile. thcy would become builders for the key Bpoint and 10-point. while perhaps dumping a blot or two on whatever points are left open in my board. I cant allow myself to get blocked in. How do J move checkers backward? By recircdaring them. we'il have to look a little more deeply into back game strategy. Il need to hit one of h blots. Il get a 'l cheder hit and stuck behind Whire's prime at a time when my own position is in ruins. I cnt a' use them to make the 4-point or the 5-point since White won't break those points until he can bit a winning shot. and leave his blots on the 10and 1>points. where will I put my checkers? I'll have to make big stacks on the 6. That's the basic strategy for a successful back game. both blots. perhaps i l making a t h d anchor on the Zpoint or the 3-poinr. White will reenter. let's lookat what happens if 1 try to rush my men home as quickly as possible. perhaps 'l i Take a look at my spare cherkerson the 6point and 7point. I'd haw m t e squeezed! Then there might be a real chance of t r a p ping some White checkers behind my prime and keeping them trapped until his board collapsed. those spares are useless to me. I'll wen ' win a gammon & way. If l could dose those points. 7. with no home board at all. Making the 1-point or the 2-point will put them out of play.In order to get my checkers on the 14 and 13points home. I might roll some small doubles and deac some of my points successfully. attadt Fortunately for me. Iin vulnerable to that strateg I need a better plan of there's one available. I could still lose going f o d The play of the five should be less d a . Although White dwsn't really mind being hit. If Im d l y lucky. If that happens. building h b o d i quickly. perhaps on my 1 or 2-point.24.

Thais part of the game of backgammon. Bladr61: BarllR* A good r i .So I'm going ro stm dumping those spares onto the open points in my board. This strategyhas some built-in risks. As for the possibilityof bad luck. missing the blot on the deuce.preventingWhite fmm blocking me and ol sending another White checker back. Diagram 95: Black on roll 26. It's the only way I can get my checkers recirculated. To make my strategywork. That's a risk I'm willing to mke. Howwet.I want to hit White. and natudly rehits. In a normal back game. That's what makes this position different from a normal back game. 27. If I roll awkwardly at that point. I'm going to create an extraordinarilycomplexposition. White 51: h i 5 17118* A mistake. I might get some checkers caught in White's home board just as he makes a small block. 25. I'll take my chances. and I'm expectingto outplay my opponent when that happens. IfWhite hits them when he reenters from the bat. White 63: Bad3 12/18* White enters. I'll come around the board and take aim at the really imporrant points in the psition . White is m h e r off not hitting or being hit. I might lose a prime versus prime game. White is trying to be hit and I a trying to avoid hitting. for the reasons outlined in the last cam- .the 9-point and the 10-point. despitethe fact that White's playing a badE game. In this position. many players in White's position would not realize this.

He m't contain t e Black checker. I thinkWhite should haw played Bar15 19/20. This is much better than making the =-point. I'm happy to keep hitting. By grabbing 30. i checkers. and he has enough h men back to ensure g o d timing. White 65: 4/10 5/10 Ag~eat shot. Whitt5E: 10116* This is a serious error. I think White is pursuing the wrong idea. . just building h board. 32. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9101112 Diagram 97: White on roll 33. Instcad he should play Bad3 19120. his other option.ment. It wilI provide me with more opportunities to recirmlate a point:in the middle ofBlack's prime. White doesn't suspect what's happening and is playinginto Black's hands. White 31: Bar13 17118* As before.while playing314would get the spare ready to teap with a five or a six. 31. Instead he should play 5/10 314. he g i m his back checkers a permanent avcnue of escape. Black 43: BarllS* As we've seen before. Black stays out. Diagram 96: W h i t e an roll 29. Making the 10-point would provide a bridge for White's sparesto circulate into the ourfieid. whichWhite plays correctly.

Still. akhoughWhite'slastroll ' was a rwl setback for me.34. he cnt avoid hitting me a' if he rolls a two or a four. . the h r . By himng with one of the dead spam on the 6-point. play is better. Black 54: Bart l6* Im continuingwith myplan. I haw a chance to reactivate that checker. I could continue on and hit on the 18-point. eae 36. Black 52: BarlZO* 6/4* Hirting on the 20-point is dear. The loose hit breaks the key connecting made last turn. Since W i e ht now has two men on the bar. bur my actual. IfWhite can't quickly point that-te r m k the 10-point. 37. Diagram 99: Black on roll Diagram 98: White on roll 35. White 64: Bar/4* F o d . but now I have another checker in play. he could be in serious mouble. White 33: Bar13 10116* 17120 A big mi&. the more White men I send back.

I've sent eight checkers back and broken the connection between the two halves ofWhite's position. I might be able to . o I thought t h s was a v q m n g double and just barely. Diagram 10 1: Black on roll 40.And if I make the 9point. T e v e n t against doubling is that many p l a p s h o v e r h a t e the strength of back games and tend to take too o h n . Black double t 2. my game will be completely uushing.Following that logic. My plan has been very successful.u 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 0 1 1 1 2 Diagram 100: Black on roll 38. the next blocking point I want to make. Black 11: Bad24 14/13 11/10*(2) A g m t shot with many ben&a: Hitting anothercheckerwillforceWhite to hit me if he rolls a deuce. a take. Splitring from the 14-point to the 13-point gives me two builders for the key 9-point. Switching from the 11-point to the 10-point brings my points doser together. giving me a stronger blockade. if at all. and I might still be able to recirculate the other two. I've managedt reckollaretwo of the few d d checkers I used o to have on the &point and 7-point.

putting me on the bar. A better idea was Bar/] 511 1. but unfortunately he has four other blots besidesthisone. so I'm going to get the cube moving now. I m g t have taka also. 42.Still. This would be a11 right if White were bumned up around the board. Biack32: Bar122 614* Playing 20/18* w t the deuce is a little safer for me. 44. and still get a rake later on. White 61: Barll 319 Another s m d mistake.take a roll. I'll probably hit somewhere else as well. Courageousbut very dangerous. White sticks a checker on the Diagram 103: Black on roll .That curs down on my m r numbers.with two White checkers on the bar. White won't be able to hit me back on the P p i n t . W h i t e ralce~. BIack42: 1319* 20118* As predicted. lf 1can hit on the 9-poinr. or even Bar/] 16/22*. White 43: Bad3 k14* A good shot. I've got good chances for a -n o this game. improve my psition some more. But it's risky tryingto get too greedy.. In manyvariationsI'll be able to coverthe 9-point next t u n . Dirmgram 102: White on roll 43. ih but I want to recirculate yet another hacker. 41. very point I want to make. with a crushing bl& 45. White does have some play left. bur very ih reluctantly.

althoughit looks consistentwith the previous play. I can make a 5' point prime with any six. Diagram 105: Black on roll . Better is Bad1 18/20 19/20! making a 3-point By block of h own.46. White 11: BarlP 3/4(2) I don'tlike thismove. Black needs to k p his back checkers moving. and cven a 3-point bhck could prove a red nuisance. Black42 22118*/16 Black hits and moves to the 16-point to connect to the slot on the 10-point. so E hit there. and he needs to take advanof it. Biadr21: Barf23 10/9 I cdt make five in a row with this number. That should lock up the P e n 51. White would give Black a few i problems. but at least I can make four consecutive points. White 21: &I3 Diagram 104: White on roll 49.I don'twantWhite makingthe 10-point. White's just been given an unlikely opportunity. 48. White 62: 4110* 16/18* Afineshot Now White hassometime togct a h m e n beyond the barrides. &la& 22: Bar123(2) 14f la* A great comebackshot. SO. If Im not hlt. rather than on the 18-point. 47. Suddenly Black's small numbers don't play well with five of his checkers in White's home board.

d 55. 54. withfivecheckersin h home i board and 10 behind my prime. Then he'd be a red threat if he hit a checker. Up to now. Releasing as many checkers as soon as possible is the key. As I d h r e i and took down my points. 53. Bladr32: 23118 H d n g toward the Il-point. he'd have a p r c q g ~ o game again. Bladc 44: 16/10 24120 Making fivc in a row gives me an iron grip on the position. Don't hit any more checkers. IfWhite could get all 15 o f h i checkers sent into my inner board.hope that W h i t e rolls some foursand fives so that h checkers on i s the 19-pointmove down to the 23-pointand 2 4 point. White 42: 115 214 White m s get checkers to the 5-point. unable to prevent me from making the key outside points. White 62: 5111 U4 E would play 511 1 315. My next gads are: Diagram 106: White on roll Release my back checkers. MOPPINO UP Ideally. I've chided White's ht position intotwo hatves. he'd r e l m his n checkers into the outfield and budd a prime somewhere in the outer baards. Make the 11-point for a f 6-point prime.52. E wanc to keep his army separatd into the two existing sections so that the pieces can't cooperate. T a job is done. so he can ut release as many as possible with s k . My next job is to d w o y White's fonvard position. Trying to keep three back . I've been hitting checkers with the idea of keeping White offbalance and unwordinated. One thing I don't want to do at this point is hit any more checkers.

D m 107: W h i t e on roll 57. Black 41: Bd24*/20 I didn't want ta hit. Fighting for the 11-pointis top priority. 61. collapse. It wan't work if Black knows what he's doing. which slows down his 57. and pingreadyto cover the 1 I with sixes and fives. White breaks apart his home board in an attempt to get his ch& hit and 1 2 9 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 0 1 1 1 2 Diagram 108: Black on roll . wen if it mans hitting another White checker. White 52: Bar15 19/21 White is trying to hold onto the 3-pint as long as possible. again recirculated. 62. Bladc21: Bar124 18/16 Avoiding the hit. White 32: 19122 21123* We call this the lumikaze play. but I can't avoid it. 56. BO. which isn't always the case. White 55: 19/24* Eorcad. but not all that bad. Black43 18/ll* A good shot. Bkdc53: 23118 20117 This gives me sixcs and swens to make the 11-point.game points is probably too optimistic. Notice that White can't play any more fives or fours. 58.

White 62: 315 Not the right deuce. I think J would have played 22/ 24. White 11: 315 4/5 22/23 That uses up a lot of White's spare pips. He can only tolerate one more deuce. 69. BIack42: 17/13 20118 Small numbers are good for me . 65.64. 1 2 3 4 5 b 7 8 9101112 Diagram 110: Black on roll . White 31: 21124 213 PIaying this way kills threes. with luck. bxge numbers are now good for White. Now it's just a question of how far White will have to advance before I open up my prime. Bladr41: 16/11 Click! The last door shuts. White 64: can't move. Now White has to play only ones and twos. Black42: 1319 18/16 Another good throw. he can preervc his remaining points unul my prime gives way. 67. 66. 68. TO. keeping the extra back point.they enable me to hold my prime longer. since he can't play them. Black 2 2 1618 71.

72. Black 43: 916 7/3* I'm just trying to keep my prime as long as possible. I don't care whether the checker on the 3-point gets hit

78. BIack32: 917 613
b q i n g the 5-prime for as long as possible is still useful. If White rolls an ace before he rolls a six, he'll have to make yet another concession.

79.White 33: can't move.
74, Black22: 1119 ll/7 3/1* My prime finally cracks, but it's done most of itswork Hitting on the I-point makes 66 a &ad, rather than a great number for White.
80. Black 65: 812 712

7 . W h i t e 52: Earl5 22/24 5

81. White 51: 415 White rolls his ace and h s to strip the 4-point. That a gives me another avenue to attack his position.

76. Black 31: 713
77. White 54: cadc move.

Diagram 112: Black on roll
82. BIack64: 713 7/1

This is it.
Diagram 111: Black on roll

ATTACKING A STRIPPED POINT By 'breakingmy prime in the middle, I force White m play any three from the 4-point. Any three except 63 will break that point d m .

83. White 31: 4/7 415 Oops. Now White's dawn to a single holding point, which I should get by easily. In addition, I now have
great gammon chances.
84. Black 66: 10/4(2) 9/3(2) Good for clearing points and good for winning the

85. White 51: 7113 Gets that checker out of danger, but White is still hurting. He'll need to hit a shot just to havc a chance

Diagram 113:Black on roll 88. Black 5 : 814 813 4 Thar's it. I now need 15 crossovers t btar off all my o checkers,while White needs 3 1 to get offthe gammon. It's a lock.

m saving the gammon.
86. Black 43: 612 613 I can't dear the &point, so the &point will have to do.

87. White 62: 5/11 13/15
SM U :

This game began with a struggle for both 5-points. White won the battle for the defensive 5-poinr, but had to concede groundin the race. Black, however,was

not able to build any inner-board points. During the hitting bade which followed, White w s able m a construct a 4-5 holding position.

Rather than play a back game where 'White had excellent timing,Black recirculated some chedrers to build up greater outtield control. m t e w s & a g to give up key outside connecting points to attempt to build a prime of his own. Eventually Black was able to consolidate control of the outfield and build a prime, trapping 10 o m i t e ' s men.When h remainingmen i were f o r d onto the low points in hs board, White i loa any serious chances of winning.

Good luck! For alisr ofdubs and tournamentsaround the counuy. and play as much as you can. Justhop in and give it a try! hce-to-face competition. one for beginners and one for m r experienced players. or if you just prefer the idea of electronic play to .gamesgrid. You'll be a m a d at: your steady progress. WKCIAMMON ON THE INTERN= In the unlikely went chat you live far away from a locd dub.gammondage. it's now possible to play backgammon matches over the Internet. T e e are b d hr clubs all around the country that run tournaments on a weekly or a monthly basis. But studying is only half the battle. If you've read this book. PO.W~thoutsceadypractice. Then just follow the direczions to connect. you won't rcally absorb the lessons o f this book. Most major cities have one or more active clubs. at http:llwww. try GanesGrid. That's not hard to do.com. You still have to practice. MA 02476. "1s there any magic tc~ getting good at backgammon?"My answer is yes. In hct. visit o frequently. You'll still want to review the five games sweral times. you'll pick up some new ideas. Arlington. Use your web browser to log on to http:llwww. withoutrestingyourself and your growing abiities.com IMPROWNG YOUR QAME I"m often ashd. Each time you pIay the game over. M s clubs run ot tournaments in separate sections.00 m The Gammon Press. and folIow the instructions for downloadingthe GamesGrids o h e . you'w already made a good start on studying. Another choice is Gammon Village. So find a l & dub. there are now two separate Internet backgammon d u h in operation! For tl-te best graphics and quidmt response time.Box 294.PLILWNG IN TOURNAMENTS Afier yau'vefinishedmding this book. There are rwo magic ingwdients: Study and Practice. send $1. you'dprobably like to try your hand at playing in a backgammon tOUrnCImMt. so don't worry oe ifyou'venever played in a tournament before. Visit a dub near you and introduce yourself to the dimtor.

Here are some terms you wifl want to remember: Advanced Anchor . Anchor A defensive point in h e opponent's inner board. used to make the deknsive 20-pint. - - Cmwfnrd Gsme I tournament play. the Crawford n Game occurs when one side is one point from - . In our diagrams.A defensive position in which the defending side holds two or more points in the opponent's inner board. The worst back games are the 1 and 4 or the 1 and 5.White's home b o d pointr 19-24. White's h-point is the 18-point. Backgammon is full of its own colorful terminology. Bar. the 2 and 3.A mll of 54 from the bar. and the 2 and 4. Bar Point In our diagrams. B i d s back position would be h points in i - Builder A checker placed so that it bears on vital points which n d to be made in the future.An anchor on the opponent's 4- point or 5-point. Barabina .Thewmidstrip runningdownthe center ofthe board between the 6 and 7-pointr on one side and the 18 and 19-pointsan the other. - Back Game . Any position with three back game points is very swng. Connected checkers defend each other and are easily made into points. B l d s bar-point is the 7point. The best back game points to hold are the 1 and 3.Checkers which have been hit have to go to the bar. They must reenter thegamenextturn in theopponent's home board. Conndvity The arrangement of checkers so that they are in direct range (six pips or fewer) of each other. - Bearoff The section of the game where players bear off checkers from their inner boards in the find race to victory - Back Position The defensive position on your opponent's side of the b o d .

See also diversification. a cube is said to n be deadwhen the player owning the cube has no - reason to wer doubie. so that the p i t i o n becomes a pure race. .Six points in a row. or ddining and paying h opponent the original stake. a player who is two points from winning the match and who owns a 2-cube will nevcr double. The player who has been doubled has the oprion of accepting the cube and playing for twice the i s value. Dead Cube I a tournament match. For example. A good ol defensive maneuver. thereby doubling h e value of the game. Downside .The movement of a checker from one quadrant of the board to another.Playing your mow so that your opponent needs the same numbers on the dice to acmmplish different objectives. Crossww Count . Direashot-Ashot atacheckersLtorfewerpip away. Double To turn the doubling cube one notch.Black's front position is his points in the area of points 1-8. ifthe match is s in progress. so that the chedrer can be hit with a single number on the dice. - Diversi6cation Playing your move so that on the - Full P k . Once a player has accepted a double. he "owns"the cube and only he can double again. After the Crawford Game. In this situation. A good offensive maneuver. Disengagt Duplication . or off the - board h r n the home board. - To break all contact. See also upside. Once all the chackers are in the home board. the doubling cube cannot be used. it normally Cmsmwr . the cube a n be used d following turn you will have different numbers on the dice to accomplish different objectives. since he mn win the match with the cube at its current level. thus ensuring that he has fewet rls working for him. In our diagrams.victory. the crossover count is 15 or less.The total number of crossovers required to b a r off all checkers.What you lose i you take a risk and f baddires. See also duphtion. Front Position The collection of blockingtattacking points in your own home board.

Tournament play differs from money play in that many situations arisewhereaplayer mnt (orshouldnt) turn the cube. A good strategic point to hold in the early game since it provides a lm&g spot for the back checks and controls the outer board Money Gamc. if available. The chance of rolling a single nondouble. A play that can't be better than an alternative play. A back game strategy. points 19-24 are White's home board. which are not part of 4th. points 1-6 are Black's home board. Losing Your Market .in which the cube can always be turned. Inner Baard . Making a n d o play is the worn possible logical blunder.The chance ol ofrollingasingle double.Gammon -Winning the game by bearing offall your checkers before your opponent h s borne offany a chedrers. thing P o d To attack by building forward points. hint A vital point which conveys a big advantage to whichwer pkyer mn make it first. Knmikaze P a Breaking points in o e s own inner ly n' board in h o p of getting the checkers recirculatod. is 17-1 against. Home Board -The quadrant of the board to which a player needs to movehis checkersfor thebearoff.see Home Board. + - Outer b a d -The points numbered 7-18. is 35-1against. - Midpoint . .side's inner b o d . In our diagrams. White's midpoint is the 12-point. no matter what the sequence of dice rolls is. constructing a prime. will fbrce your opponent to drop a later double. The player winning a gammon wins twice the value of the cube.To have both a very solid ahantage and some h a t s which. Iike 66. Iike 65.Black's midpoint i s the 1 I p i n t in our diagams. A useful way to slow down h e deterioration of your position in a priming battle. Longshot -An unlikelybut powerfd r l . Also known as the Inner Board. ifexecuted.Agame played for money. Good tournament players must be d e n to these situations. - - Nullo Play W i g Numbers -To play your roll in such away that some numbers on the dice can't be played next turn. and putting your opponent on the bar.

Permanentb -An asset which can't go away after a single lucky t h m by the opponent. Sx pointr in a row is i called a f l prime. winning a gammon with the cube still centered at 1. Rechdation Keeping c h e h in play by having them hit and then reenteringthe game from h e opponent's home board. At the start of the game. - SIot Placing a blot on a point with the idea of making the point next turn. the better your timing. Undoubled Gammon In tournament play. and i s the strongem possible ul blockade since the opponent can't jump wer it n with a y possible number. - . An undoubled gammon is worth two points. T I-The ability to hold your keypointswhile you are waiting to get a shot. - Pip Count -The total number of p i p needed to be rolldon thedice to b u offallyour chackers. It's e calculated by multiplying the number of a point by the number of checkers on that point. Sauctural Play . In general. See also downside. the f a d e r behind in the race you are. &e - -A collectionof mnsecutive points blocking in your opponent's men. both sides' pip count is 167.A move which buiids strong points. Upside What you gain if you take a risk and it succeeds. and adding the to& together.

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