Saturday, 15 January 2011
Re-learning Old Lessons.
Today's position comes from a nine-point Fibs League match against Walfinho from Austria. I've already doubled on the strength of my four prime but White has anchored and is now threatening to start building a prime of his own. I have 4-2 to play. What would you do?
Red (dorbel) v. White (Walfinho), Game one, Match to 9 points. Pipcount Red 144-White 156.
My prime is front-loaded, which if you haven't come across the term means that all the spares are down the low end and of course this makes for lack of flexibility. 8/4, 6/4 makes the 4pt nicely and leaves the 8pt slotted. It leaves a shot of course, but White isn't going to hit even if he does roll a 5. This was enough for me, the play makes a valuable point, improves the spread of my builders and free slots the back of a five prime, that'll do. It's an enormous blunder.
My main priority in this position should be to get my back checkers moving, before White builds a nice prime to keep them in. I should know this without even giving it much thought, because there is a hugely powerful guide to the correct checker play in these situations and it is this.
When your opponent has a high anchor and you don't, you must respond immediately to try and equalise.
That even applies here, where White's anchor is the feeble 22pt and it is primed. Red just has to get those back checkers moving, so that they can race or anchor or hit something in the outfield as the dice dictate. Otherwise the advantage will swing slowly to White as she builds her prime and stays anchored at the edge of yours. The best play is 24/18. White will usually hit it of course, but you should get lots of returns and while she is hitting, she isn't improving her board.
I am indebted for the above rule to Paul Lamford, the British writer and teacher. I had forgotten it and needed reminding of how strong it is.
Look for Paul Lamford's books, they are very useful. 100 Backgammon Puzzles is an excellent cheap read, full of useful examples like this one and his Starting Out In Backgammon is a great beginner guide.
Until the next time, enjoy the game!