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. a backgammonpromoter from London. The idea of a Pro-Am doubles tournament was the brainchld of Lewis Deyong. Florida.Thattournamentgrew into the Obolensky Cup.Although it used to be held in February. but eventually discontinued in 1974. The format is a doubles tournament of 16 teams. a regular tournament on the international circuit was held every year in January. Nevada. . until the idea of a h@-dass doubles tournament caught on. it now rakes place in Las V v every November.THE PaO-AM DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIP The Pro-Am Doubles Championship originated in The Bahamas. For about ten years after that. In 1998. The Bahamas has been the scene of topflight backgxnmon events ever since the very first internationaltournament waso+d there byPrince Alexis Oboicnskyin 1964. the Pro-Am Doubles Championship moved toTurnberry Isle. held during the 1960sand 1970s.The followingyear it moved again. hiis rime to La Vegas.when it moved to Monte Carlo. each consisting of a top tour professional paired with an enthusiastic amateur.

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

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

he"s ht accomplished nothing.I discussed the key gods of the first f&v moves of the game. W~th 2. the . in 1390 and 1334. anda~hirbyBlackdgaiainalotofground Billy Horn. &ie m n if he's missad. This is the modern way of playing an opening 6-2. OPENINO The firstgame we'll study was played in the semifinals of the great Athens tournament of 1994.w s recognized as one of the very top players in the world for some time. Hs best result so far was second place in the i Tarrequebrada tournament in Spain in 1932.1. MatthiasPauenisoneofthe mnpt German$aytts. Black puts a budder on the I 1the point. Black had 4other ways of playing this roll which aren't seen very much anymore in master play. or Ppoint. The match was to 23 poincs. BlackG2: 24/18 13111. We're ping to Iwk at Game 5 of the match. He also won h e Athens tournament in 1394 and the Bahamas Pro-Am i 1991. The top priority is to make the strong blocking points on your side of the board. Let$ take a lmk at them. In Backgammonfir Winners. and Horan was the eventual winner. at this point Pauen leads Horan 4 to 3. these key p o i m are rhc 5-poinr. Wth dtt 6. H' es the only player ro win the World Cup twice. This leaves fewer hitting rolls for Whire. a New Yorker. Blackmom out to the opposing bar point (the 18-point). so on the d c e it's a saferplay. For Black. which can be useful in the future in making the 5-pint. 7-pint. in the race. or White will hit the blot but lave a blot of his own.The problem with the play i s t a it's not consmaive. If Bkdc is hit. 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 mired in n 1398. He could haw uiad running all the way with a back man: 24116. he'll still have the problem of getting that blot to safety next turn.

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

White splits hi back men. Why?Let$ see. White remakes the 17point. White 5 3 114 12117. and the reasonably safe 1318.64. Once one side (Black. If he doesn't want to hit. With rhc 3.points. Black32 13/10 6/4*. Howwer. A conservaand tive playermightdectmmakceitheroftheseplays. Bladc could sciH win the game by building a prime of his own. First Blackmust decidewhether or not to hit on the 4point with h deuce.25. anchor. 46).52. Not an especially good roU. Is a gocrd tip t c Am-- vnce wwur M -*---- -" " uaaunrrif R- mak~ an ad1 w vanced .34. in this game) makes an anchor. PIAYINQ FOR FLEXlBlLlTY Top players understand that to build powerful p i - .leaving White no shots. A difficult roll with many possible plays. prevent To himself f o being primed.lmvingWhite only eight shots (61. the other side's (White's) chances of winning the game by priming Black's back D i i 5: Black on roll 5. then see why Horan decided on the move he actually made. 4. trying to make an advancad anchor of his own on the 4-point. I t becomes w zn more! vital ft)r r you tlo make 4an anchor of your Own. Let's look at some of the possible alternatives. and quickly. checkers has mished. the 5. Why?The reason is simple. but a top playerwould reject hem quickly. he has i mo plays: the super-& 1 116. but White's play is clearly the best available. W h t e must create an rm anchor of his own. cleaning up a blot in thc proms.43.16.

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

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

you need to have both a very solid advantage and some threatswhich. he doesn't have many numbers that h t h enter and hit. D i p 7: Black an mll I 1. Hitting with the 4 is certainly dear. On the 22point. Black would have liked to enter. In order to double. but that puts a valuable buader out ofplay. 10. . W 61: Bad1 4/10*.A p o d un result for Whitewould be to safety a couple ofhis blots. t e White can'thit the blot on the 5-point. the checker is a builder for only the 23-point. White 43: 1/5* 12/15. but staying out ist ' too serious. He should be able to reenter next turn. if your best won't be enough to make your opponent give up later-then you shouldn't double yet. Black 64: Bar12 1 1317. In this position. Black simply slots the next good point. White statts the IS-point with one of the s p a on the midpoint. but he picks off the blot on the 10-point instead. On the 1Ppoint. Bhck 63: Stays out. ifexccuted. m t e would have no difficulty reentering a checker since Black hasn't yet kgun to build his home board. Instead. It will be very dificult for White so move h i checkers past those two points without leaving some shots later on. VPhite has an advantage.8. In addtion. but the zhree is awlward. White m d d make a saft play by moving 191 22. With the 6. If you mn't lore your market-that is. Risky! Not really. Making the 2lpoint gives Black two strongdefensive anchors (the 2 1-point and the 1&point) as a fallback posiuon. but it's not going to change very much from turn to t r . Since Black is on the bar. the checker is a builder for both the valuable 2bpoint and the less valuable 23-point. in this cast the 7-point. 9. This is known as losing p u r market. will Eorce your opponent to drop a kter double. Should White double! No.

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

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

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

That's atotalof9 out of a possible 36 dice throws.or 25%! White's proper strategy is to move the checker to safety. the next point he wants to m a t . BIafk44: Bar121 1816. A g o d throw. 23. Paucn correctly leaves the cube in the middle. 'White 52: 12/19. so he moves the odd checker to the 2-point. Black21: 9/7 817.63. White throws the 6 and pops into the oudidd. White can't dear either outside poinr.and 21. Horan enters and brings another spare to bear on the 3-poinr. all of the folIwving throws would leave that checker in jeopardy: 66. and is usefully placed to make the 5-point. 24. EquaIlygoodwas61 3. Horan makes four points in a row. Black will haw to win from his holding position aftm dl.62. If White is able to mow h checker on the 12-pointto safety b turn. . not be able to safety that chedrer. White 51: 17123. Diagram 11:White on roll White wdd reasonably double now. The checker mmes to safety. 26.Andwhat ifwhitedmroll a G?That'sacalculatcd risk. In particular. Blackwould still have a take based on his chances of hitting a game-winning shot later in the game. of course. but in that cast Horan will fall back on his primary game plan . 22. but he chooses to wait one more turn. 25. say with a H w v r there's a ansidtrable chance that White will oee.using the anchors on the 21 and 18-pointsto generate a winning shot late in the p e . ShouldWhite double now?Not quite. White 65: 117*112. starting the 3-point.33. then offer a perfectly-timed double. i s s roll of 6-2 (12113) he'll be in an ideal position M double.

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

W h i t e has only six numbers to clear the 16-point (31. itn His chances of getting a shot are a c d y quite good. How ie much more? That depends on his estimate of how If White leaves a shot on the l&point. So one win in four games is the break-wen point for taking a double if you can't get gammoned.is not going to win any races.13. Badgammon fir WitPnm. doesn't guarantee victory.while if your chances are less than hat.61. .Whitcwill haw some chances to escape. If you can w n more than i one game in four. So Black has a dear mkc. In the position we're looking at. then containing the checker. and Bhck dropped all four games.16. Barring doubles. Black can certainly win more than one game in four. W h y only one in four? Let's quickly review why that's the case. The result? A net loss of four points. In that case. then he's going to have to win byfirst h t i g ashot. Also.the gammon factor.H' a favorite to get es at least one shot.he would need to win at least one game in four to take a double. If White dears the 17-point before clearing the 16-point.Hitting a shot. right?Not so fsst!Therels one other factor to consider . he will need to win more than his usual 25% of the t m to justify a take. plus a combination shot like 41. then his chances of clearing the 16-point without leaving a shot are very small. Overall. and managed to win only one while losing three. he would lose six points in the three games he Lost while winning back t o points in the game he w won. I explained that i Black caa't lose a f gammon. he would lose four points. he might still lose by leaving a blot on the 19-point.63 and36) andsixother numbers to dear the 17-point (65. Supposethis position came up four consecutive times. 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). wen if m cleats the 16 and 17-points. THE QAMMON FACTOR If Black can lose a gammon. Black will actually be a favorite m hit it! He'd be able to hit with any 5 or any 2. How often d m Black need to win this position in order to take a double?In my first book. of i t e zoursc. while he might get as many as two or three shots.26. M guessis that Blackcan win y this position about 35% of the time. If Black mnt win the race.56. you can certainly take. just as &re. Black would d l have to contain the c h e c k hehits. h m r . and 25). you should pass. andwhilt hc'slikely to do that. If he took al f u games.52.62. l or however.

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

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

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

White's job is simple:enter and e ~ ~ abefore Black can pe budd his prime. Black hits! Now it's a whole new game. exposing another blot. Diagram 14: White on roll 38.51. Entering one man is a reasonably good throw for Black. he'll be abIe to turn the cube to 4 and double White out. If he can make a full 6-point prime. point. Black 52: 21JI9* 18113. White 11: h / 2 * 20121*(2). rwuloed in White's entering on the 1-point and breaking the 20- Diagram 15: Black on toll 41. Throwing 13 or 14.and55. Black hits and is back in control. for instance. Black63: Bad19 13110*.63. Black nowhas 13chances(out of36)to hic 61.Another huge swing! . raking aim at all Black's juicyblots. Black62: Badly. followed by making the 7-point. 4 . 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. or get very close to that. Black's job now will be to cwer the 2-point very soon. 53. 62.52. 39.37. W h i t e 62: 2/10. Now Black i s again in danger of being gammonecl.

Black 53: 18/13 1219. Nice play by Horan. Black 11: 19/18 1019 312*(2). Black can now hit w t less chance that he ih may end up trapped on the bar. Diagram 16: Black on mII 43. Note too that not hitting White at all is not an option. i l 44. The time to double wl come later. White to shoot at. Should Black be thinking about doubling? Not yet. Whitt stays out. White stays out. White 32: Bar12 21124. Hi outfield coverage is now excellent while he's blocked'Xrhite's potential winning n u m k of 36.42. if he can. Black must prevent White from getting into the outfield. Bladis making progress. WhIte enters but breaks his bard. 45. White still has good chancesof escaping Bladc's blodcade and running home. which d n s his chances. and he might wen stilI be able to win a gammon with a ludry throw. 46. H has g o d e control of the outfield and no immediate targets for Diagram 1 :BHck on mu 7 . but he still needs to dose the 3-point before he mn double. Bhck could have usad thiswhole r l to hit loose on the ol 2-point (6/2*)but his actual play i s better.

Black redoubles to 4. White wl have one chance r escape by rolling a 1-6. If Blackgets hit in thisp c e s s . Black63: 913 613. an easy matter for Black to dose i it's his board:He just has to move his spares into h home i board. 6s) or slot h 7-point and i by sticking a blot there. and tries again. That's h not close to the 25%thatWhite needs to take a double. Incidentally you may want to memorize the following Etde table.and c m r it. Now Black is on the verge of doubling. brings it around. T e answer is 11%. White stays out. what we really need to know is this: What is the chance that White can win the game ifhe is dosed out. 4s. it's no problem:He just reenters h spare. so he correctly passes. hoping to cwer next nun. 50. Whitepasses. given that he already has three men oiT? That's a question which backgammon theoreticians have already figured out. 49. il o . a Nact turn Blackwill either r & h 7-point (if he rolls n i some combination of 2s. A great shot.47. Once he has s x points in a row. i Since it's emremely likely that Black will dose out the single White checker in this position. 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. 48. A very dear double now. aftcr which Black will make the 7-point. slot his 1-point.

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

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

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

lke whaI? the dice givt U. however. I think this is the play most likely t lead to a quick knockout. . MagrieI's play. Black65: 24113 Correct-There's nothing better to dowith this roll than simply run to the midpoint. Diagram 19: White an roll 3. Black 64: 24114* 14n excellent shot. I've seen some players tty 24/18 1318. Don't tryfortrs much o Escapingache&sin the opening is a simple but useful objective. escaping the k t checker wMe hitting at the same time. This play maximizes White's buildingchances in the areaofthe boardwhere White already has an advantage. Early edge to Snelling. 115. White 41: 19120 115 Covering the 20-pint with the ace is of course completely dear. and this is really a stylistic question. Both plays o have their merits. making it difficult for SneKngs to play safely next rum. but that's overplaying the position. My own preference is for 12/16.2. 4. The play of the four offers a few options. spreads out the rear checkers to cover thewhole board.

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

. Should White have triod to gtmd against this possibility? Absolutely not. White 43: Bad4 k 1 3 Farced. Snellings e would lose all of his advantage if Magriel then reentered with a four. 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.and that's the case here. M t the double hit. BIack64: 1014* 814 A firs-rate play by Snellings. There was a tempting alternark of 8/4* 22116* hitting two men. but SneMing's play is better. but it's still too soon to double. point board and four blots. Black has a nice edge since he's on roll. ainst thr2 Tr .game will usually turn the game around. taking into account your opponent's most likely rolls. 10. Black is firmly in conml. ciple: . Snellings play illustrates a key prin- 9. 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.

he begins to develop the checkers on the midpoint. Black is firmly in control ofthe gameagain. Should Black double? Diagram 23: Black on roll Diagram 24: Black on mu . ---A ---Ems a r- Manen~ asam WIII w o r m rwr 12. 1 4 it asset. White must hit to keep Black off balance.Black I& up a permanent asset.W P C EouM. Black 32: Bar/22* 13111* Afmeshot. White stays out. With the two. Good play. 13. 14. 11 White 62: Bar12 16122* .. A dreadfid position for White. W h i t e 6 5 2/11* A strong hit. Black42 Bat121 13/11 With the four. 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. 15.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you see why laving the checker on the 13-point is better? . 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.64.46. he does have a choiceofwhere to leave the shot.the ch& ifcl on the 11-point is now under diect attack. White 51: 7113 Moves closer to home wKde keeping double cove rag^ of the vital 1 G and 17-points.. it's not as easy to safety that checker as you might imagine. 11 of White's 36 numbers failed to get that checker to safety (21. 'White 51: 13/19 Now that Black is in from the bar. White has to leave a direct shot. White is still a substantial favorite. 12. White 21: 11113 13/20 Oops. Magriel makes the bmcr play. 49. bringing thecheckcrdostr to home. 15. Most pIayers would automaticallymove 11/14.47. Actually. D i q 33: Wh. 51.. Blacks: 21/17(4) A great shot.Meanwhile. Since he d t safety the checker on the 1I -pointwirh this roll. and 55).33. In fact. 11 J13 19/20. he picks UP the checker on the 13 instead 50. dfiutthan expected.te on roll 51. Whltte Ifas m b very z careful leaving blots around.32.23.66.

Here there is a difference. White har fewer rolls which clear the 15-point safely.Moving 11J 13 13/20also gives Black 15 hiall foursplus 53. h x u a t e play by Magriel. so instead he will d e n his board a little by phying 31 1 211. but by giving up the 18-point. 5 .51. That er won't be easy. Moving 11/14 allows Black to hit with 15 numbers: all threes (I 1 numbs) plus 52.35. The next consideration is to see if either move gm i Black an awkward number to play. Sointermsofimmediate safety the two plays are quivalmt. ae then cover it later. White 61: 13119 22123 Home free. or I1. 52. 54. Black has a problem with the roll of 21.That's not a big concession. White 61: 15/22 7 Another f o r d play.but there's no reason that White shouldnt try for that sequence.25. Black won't want to leave a direct shot with 17/14 (he might get gammon4 if he got hit). b u s e Black's 5point is still open. 53. or 33. Black51: 17111 Black rnissts. He can hit with any two or six. however.13. Next job is to d a the 15-point. White 66: 18124(2) Forced play. 55. In contrast. If White plays 11114. Black 11: 915 The fartest way to m k a key point is to first slot it. if White plays 1 I I13.12 and 21. Black 53: 1719 . 15. any Black roll which does not hit can be played safely by moving off the 17point. Diagram 34: Black on mU 56. A hit isn't guaranteed to win.White's first prioriry is playing the roll as safely as possible. and now here's a potential winningshot for Black.so he starts to move builders into position to remake the 5-point.and31. a total of 24 numbers out of 36.

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

White 44: 20124(2) 22/0ff(2) . Snelling's a d playwastes one pip. or 41. White 63: 19loff 19122 Diagram 36:Biack on roll 62. Black43: 21117 916 Black could stickaroundf r another turn. an unlucky sequence could then easily wst B l d the gammon.65. 63. B l d 44: 2115 4 This roll pretty much guarantees that Black will save the gammon. wasting no pips in his race to save the gammon.5 1.so he's right to run. 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. White 65: 19loff 2 0 l d 6 .and20points). 69. BlacIcbl: 1115 7/6 Black could play 1316. However. Black is only about 8% to hit ashot as White tries to dear the 19. hoping that o White would t h m 61. Diagram 37: Black on mll 68. which would give Black a chance to hit a winning shot.

In a n position in which he would easily double in a money game. . Magriel insmndy doubles. however. however. 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.White wins a sin& game worth 2 points and takes a 10-9 lead. He remgnizesrhat giving h e opponent a cube which can't be retuned becauseof the match score entitles him to double quite aggrcssiwly. since he has the possibility of winning the match with an undoubled gammon. he declines to turn the cube. When the advantage suddenly shifts the other way. Magriel goes on to win the game and take a 10-9 lead in the I 1-pointmatch.

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

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

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

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

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

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. it raises the specter that M i t e may resume h anack. DUPLICATTON By making the 7-point:and posting a builder on the 6.16. White 53: 12/20 Nice roll and well-playd White has a solid edge now. but this would have k e n bad on several counts. with Black's men trapped further back than White's men. heduplicatesWhite's aces (Whitenowneedsaca tohit oh the 5-point and t make the 20-point). W t e 63: Bar13 15/21 Essentially forcd. from the hen polcsible. Black 11: Bar124 E d 2 3 615* Great shot byMagriel!With Black's back game firmly i place. 19. Hitting with the ace is correct since it cuts down on White's chances of m&ng the 20 or 2 1points. i Diagram 44: Black on roll 18. If he had chosen instead to 1115 1318. 17. but Magriel findsthe best play. White would need aces to cover the 20. and different numbers (threes and fours) to hit on the 7-point. try to duplicate y'our op1 construcltlvs nua Another play was 24/18 23/18. . cutting o down on Whiris total of effective numbers. White won't be thinkifigabout doubling for n some rime now. Bkdc65: 137 1116 Black has several choices with t l u s roll. White at least ernfireworks with a three-point board.

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

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

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

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

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

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

clearing of the 20-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. should he get hit later. Notice that he can play almost all his nurnks safelyThrees. Itwill be vcrydifficult for W h i t e to mxpe B l d s blockade. Black22 12/10 1418 l 3 W s next p l is to extend his 5-point prime into a a full Bpoint prime. White 65: 2110fl72) 48. aces can be played from the 21-point to the 22-point. Bymovingoffthe 23-point. LookatWhite's position. D i q 54:Black on roll 46. and sixes bear off ch&s. course.from 21 r 23. Black 63: 23/14 CRWTING snom An excellent play by Magriel. 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. deuces. l 45.him awrysuong5-point prime. the easiest way B extentl a prima is to slr he back o the Iprime. 47. Magriel gives-te a way to play a rwa . but also an excellent shot. Black brings up the next builder. Black slots the back of the prime and prepares t cover with o a deuce. while Uauallv. fours. White 22: 20122(4) ~orced. fives. mt be played at a l ' l. . W h the four.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good take by Sncllings. 13. Diagram 65: Black on roll 15. That dance just gave Black a healthy initiative. depending on howwell-rimed the back game turned out to be. Bladrwill attadconthe 2-point until someone makes that point. Dancing now is much more serious &an dancing two nzms ago. 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. That's a big improvement for Black. White into an ace-point game.or a counter-prime of his own. 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. Black55: 16/11 1313 813 A constructive shot. 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. 11. He's certainly an underdog. but there's plenty of play left. W t e 32: Barl2* Whke's m m will bt forced for some time. White 64: Bad4 . Black43: 815 6/2* S y h t e r c o r d y goes for the throat. after which the batde will shift to other fronts. 10. 14. with winning chances in the 35%to 50%range. preparing for more 12. Black maGes the 3-point and the 11-point. Here he can only enter one checker from the bar. W h i t e mays out. progress next turn. although it's one of the few numbus that doesn't make the 5-point. Black42 k t 2 3 6/2* Aswe indicatedbefore. Games which hinge on sruggles for key points ate usually the most complex and demanding. 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.

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

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

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

. A& 17121. Nem turn. Now Black has only sixes to leap. E o ~ eBlack to mave the s checkers on his 8 and 9-points inm his board. of course.fbr instance. while moving up to h e 22-point g k two numben m escape (sixes and fours) rather than just one (frves). 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. fivcs and fours will make him brak his 7-point. If Black has r play those numbers on his t o side of the board. Black can leap into the ou&dd with aM fours and sixes. What happens ifWhite slots but gets hit?Thc downside. on the other hand. Black 51: 1318 23/22 Playing to the I-point gets one checker out of danger. is that White's more likely to get gamrnoned in that case. But notiaethat with four men already back. White31: 15/18 17118 This unassuming little move is an incredibly p Makhgthe 18-point. in fact probably the most dificult play to find in dl the games in this book! Last turn White. and the b a t play for that is Snclling's play. 30. fours. and threes) a e stopped. Black redly has only one spare turn.slotting. he'll have to give up the 7-point pretry soon. forms amuch better blockade. 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. The best way for White to avoid ~ being gammoned is to w i the game. 1 2 3 4 5 b 7 8 9101112 Diagram 7 1 :White on roll 31. at some risk. 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. and instead l m m it exposed while making a different blocking point. 19121 and 12115.Amll of54. slotted the 2 1-point. while his other big numbers (fives. Ya Snellings h s e s to cover the blot. Playing 17121 stems so obvious that 9 out of 10 top players would make the move in a flash. after which White will have to hit or else revert to a straight ace-point game. In fact.White is likely to get gamrnoned anyway if he loses this game.

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

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

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

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

With 11 of his 36 rolls.small numbers l i i 41. White's 36 pos- . After a roll like 32. W~th of 14 his 36 numbers.. White doubles to 4.3 1. Grouping similar numbers together. White rolls a 6 and hops Black's prime. White 51: 14/19 lSlP9 But the dice always have surprisw in store!White r h o his k t number. and 21. In this group. After any of these rolls.59. W~th 1 1 the remaining numbers. and ifs more likely that will happen next rum than that White will escape. In fact. These nurnbers are terrific for White. n So. For the first time in the game. White bre& a point in h i board. 61. and Snellings immediately doubles! Es the double correct? 6n Black accept?Lts mke a closer look e' T understand this situation. for instance.I n . the game becomes a race to see who can roll a 6 first. closing the b o d .h e e n numbers. we have to take a dose o bok at how White's different numbers play next turn. he becomes the favorite in the game. With Black now the first to shoot. White is a favorite. White's position deteriorates but his board m a i n s dosed. Black becomes a favorite in the game as smn as White's board breaks. White's very happy if he has already doubled.the 43 roll. H e becomes more than a 95%favorite in the game. Now he's a dear favorite. sible throws fall into three main categories: Group A -White's best numbers. giving Black a chance to enter. can Black take?The answer is yes. 33. White's board will break on the following turn on a y roll that does not contain a 6 . and m d u m doubles: 44. Group B -White'sworst numbers. Diagram 77: White on roll Group C . the take is quite easy. and 22. These numbers are all fives except 65.

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

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

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

White 41: 2Iloff 241off InI genera11. %e t 51: 2Ilofl 22123 I the bearoff. The blunder 2lIoff 21122.81. you s IDiagram 83: White on ways bear checkers off with direct numbersrather than try to improve your di Lureroll!9. 87. Black 52: Slog 210ff Diagram 82: White on roll 83. Black65 41offI2) 85. White's actual play is considerable better than 21 loE21122. 84. White 52: 2lloff 2310E A single double now could win the m e for Black d 86. while the im- different points. try t keep checkers spread out on n o The extra checkers off ate permanent. purting both men on the 22- . Black 62: 61off 21off 7 16 15 14 13 proved distribution may n m r matter. White's play lets him bear off both checken next tum with 23 (out of 36)numbers. White 61: 201off Woff 82. which some players might have chosen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why deliberer ately sacrifm a checker with 712. Suppose I could move those chackers backwards. building h b o d i quickly. Meanwhile. though. . If l could dose those points. perhaps i l making a t h d anchor on the Zpoint or the 3-poinr. 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. If that happens. White will build the 20 and 22-points. perhaps on my 1 or 2-point. attadt Fortunately for me. I cant allow myself to get blocked in. That's the basic strategy for a successful back game.In order to get my checkers on the 14 and 13points home. Il get a 'l cheder hit and stuck behind Whire's prime at a time when my own position is in ruins. and leave his blots on the 10and 1>points. those spares are useless to me. let's lookat what happens if 1 try to rush my men home as quickly as possible. 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. when I wuld just keep my back checker moving with 18/13) o undcrT smnd this play. This scenario doesn't look too promising for me. just as White has been doing with his checkers. with no home board at all. Iin vulnerable to that strateg I need a better plan of there's one available. Although White dwsn't really mind being hit. He'll tryto s o lt the 20-point or the 22-point. Right now. and gpoina. let's say after 24118*113. Making the 1-point or the 2-point will put them out of play. If I'm ludcy. Black 65: 24118* 712 The hit with the six is dear. while perhaps dumping a blot or two on whatever points are left open in my board. If I could mwe them back to the 13-point or 15-point. and here. How do J move checkers backward? By recircdaring them. perhaps 'l i Take a look at my spare cherkerson the 6point and 7point. After that. If Im d l y lucky. Il need to hit one of h blots. White will reenter. 7.24. I'll wen ' win a gammon & way. I could still lose going f o d The play of the five should be less d a . BACK QAME STRATEQtY First. both blots. These checkers wl enter my board easily. we'il have to look a little more deeply into back game strategy. where will I put my checkers? I'll have to make big stacks on the 6. thcy would become builders for the key Bpoint and 10-point. I might roll some small doubles and deac some of my points successfully. Mort likely.

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

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

The loose hit breaks the key connecting made last turn. I could continue on and hit on the 18-point. eae 36.34. the more White men I send back. White 33: Bar13 10116* 17120 A big mi&. bur my actual. White 64: Bar/4* F o d . Black 52: BarlZO* 6/4* Hirting on the 20-point is dear. . he cnt avoid hitting me a' if he rolls a two or a four. I haw a chance to reactivate that checker. Still. Black 54: Bart l6* Im continuingwith myplan. 37. play is better. Since W i e ht now has two men on the bar. By himng with one of the dead spam on the 6-point. Diagram 99: Black on roll Diagram 98: White on roll 35. he could be in serious mouble. the h r . but now I have another checker in play. IfWhite can't quickly point that-te r m k the 10-point. akhoughWhite'slastroll ' was a rwl setback for me.

Following that logic. 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. giving me a stronger blockade. the next blocking point I want to make. I've managedt reckollaretwo of the few d d checkers I used o to have on the &point and 7-point. o I thought t h s was a v q m n g double and just barely. and I might still be able to recirculate the other two. if at all. 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 . my game will be completely uushing. Black double t 2. I might be able to . My plan has been very successful. I've sent eight checkers back and broken the connection between the two halves ofWhite's position.u 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 0 1 1 1 2 Diagram 100: Black on roll 38. a take. Switching from the 11-point to the 10-point brings my points doser together. Diagram 10 1: Black on roll 40. Splitring from the 14-point to the 13-point gives me two builders for the key 9-point.And if I make the 9point.

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

White's just been given an unlikely opportunity. althoughit looks consistentwith the previous play. so E hit there. SO. Black42 22118*/16 Black hits and moves to the 16-point to connect to the slot on the 10-point. 47. &la& 22: Bar123(2) 14f la* A great comebackshot. and cven a 3-point bhck could prove a red nuisance. Black needs to k p his back checkers moving. Suddenly Black's small numbers don't play well with five of his checkers in White's home board. White 21: &I3 Diagram 104: White on roll 49. I can make a 5' point prime with any six. White would give Black a few i problems. If Im not hlt. but at least I can make four consecutive points. and he needs to take advanof it. White 11: BarlP 3/4(2) I don'tlike thismove. White 62: 4110* 16/18* Afineshot Now White hassometime togct a h m e n beyond the barrides. 48. Better is Bad1 18/20 19/20! making a 3-point By block of h own. Biadr21: Barf23 10/9 I cdt make five in a row with this number. That should lock up the P e n 51.46. Diagram 105: Black on roll .I don'twantWhite makingthe 10-point. rather than on the 18-point.

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

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

66. 67. 1 2 3 4 5 b 7 8 9101112 Diagram 110: Black on roll . Black42: 1319 18/16 Another good throw.64. White 62: 315 Not the right deuce. he can preervc his remaining points unul my prime gives way. White 31: 21124 213 PIaying this way kills threes. since he can't play them. keeping the extra back point. Now it's just a question of how far White will have to advance before I open up my prime. TO. I think J would have played 22/ 24. White 64: can't move. 69. 68. with luck. bxge numbers are now good for White. Now White has to play only ones and twos. 65. Bladr41: 16/11 Click! The last door shuts. White 11: 315 4/5 22/23 That uses up a lot of White's spare pips. BIack42: 17/13 20118 Small numbers are good for me . Black 2 2 1618 71.they enable me to hold my prime longer. He can only tolerate one more deuce.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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