the dorbel daily

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Golden Point.

Just how important is it to make the 5pt? Often we are presented with a choice of making it or using the roll to hit somewhere else. In a different form we also sometimes have the opportunity to make either Golden Point. There are of course no definitive answers. Sometimes it's right and sometimes it's wrong, but today we can have a look at a range of positions, some commonplace, some rare.

Here's a very common one and most of you know this one.

Position One.

It's always correct to hit, money or match, any score. Hitting gains 20 pips in the race and removes the White slot. Still, many intermediate and beginner players still make their 5pt with this one, wrongly. How about with 1-1? Now making the bar and 5pts is correct and hitting is always wrong, although not by a great deal at some scores.
That was an easy one, so how about this?

Position Two

Not many people run out with 5-4 or 6-3, so you don't often see this one, but against weak players it can be a good alternate if they don't know how to play 3-1.
Hitting is clearly correct and making the 5pt is an error. What you do with the one is not so clear. I always hit and split, but 13/10*/9 is also quite good.

Much more commonplace is the response when White has made a major split.

Position Three

For money and at GammonSave, making the 5pt figures to be correct, but at GammonGo and DMP the issue is far from clearcut. I haven't rolled this out (although I will) but at lower levels of evaluation (XG2++) there is nothing to choose between them. A very common mistake here is to make the 4pt with a 4-2, but hitting is correct except at GammonSave where the two plays are very close.

Now let's move on to some more difficult stuff. Here's a position that a student faced and got wrong. What would you have done with this?

Position Four

Leading 2-0 to 5 Black had this 5-1 to play. Hit? Make the 5pt? Make the 4pt? And if you think that one is hard, try this one!

Position Five

Here Black, the renowned American expert Paul Weaver, is trailing 4-away, 3-away to Mochy.
As an extra problem, should he double this? If he does and gets a take, how should he play a 4-1?

Take your time, you have a day, possibly two to think about this one! If anybody has actually rolled out Position Three I'd like to hear from you.
Until the next time, enjoy the game!


Timothy Chow said...

Great problems! In the first position my first inclination was to hit to prevent White from making a powerful five-prime. However, if we do hit, then almost everything hits back, and sometimes double hits. Only 66 63 52 33 fail to hit back. Especially leading 3a5a, I think this is far too much gammon risk. In fact I'd double from the bar as White if Black were to play 24/18*.

The choice between the 5pt and the 4pt is harder. The 5pt is a much better point, and leaving the 4pt slotted gives us a chance to make it, whereas making the 4pt makes it very hard for us to make the 5pt. On the other hand, 10/5 6/5 does give White 3's to hit. I guess I make the 5pt, but without confidence.

The second position should be a clear take even leading 3a4a, since White has the stronger board and the race is even. But there's enough of a gammon threat that I would double. For the 4-1, I would try 8/4*/3*. Making the 5pt is tempting, but it gives White 2's, 4's, and 6's to hit, handing over the initiative. Nothing else looks viable, e.g., after 10/9 we must still leave a ton of shots and have no good 4 to play.

ah_clem said...

I think you might have posted the answers already, and I see that Tim has weighed in with probably the correct answers, but I haven't looked at either yet, so here's my stab at it:

4) I escape with tempo here. Black can't afford to give white the opportunity to fill in the bar point. Making the four or five point just seems to passive. 24/18*

5) It seems like a pretty clear take, so unless there's something going on with the match score I can't see how it's a double. ND/T

I'd make the 5 point here. My rule of thumb is these sorts of positions is "When in doubt, make the 5 point". I'm in doubt that any of the other plays are better, so I'll hust make the five. It safeties one of my blots, makes a desirable homeboard point and a solid four prime, plus it unstacks the 6 point. That's a lot of progress for one roll. 9/5 6/5.