Regular readers (who deserve more regular posts, apologies) will know that I am a big fan of the early aggressive double. Although sometimes a mistake, it does open the possibility of a very wrong pass (particularly when it comes with a strong whiff of gammon), it does mean that you can't make another doubling mistake in that game and it does mean that your opponent can make a mistake when she redoubles, or more commonly misses a chance to do so. What should Black do here? It's 3-away, 3-away and White is a GBot on Fibs, Gnu 2-ply in other words. Black is on roll, White is on the bar.
Black leads by 130 pips to 179, he has a much better board and White has to enter before she can do anything. Is this enough for a cube? The first thing to note is that there is no chance of a wrong pass, nor will White make a mistake with the redouble, because she is a gnu. However, Black will win about 57% of the games from here, of which 33 will be match winning gammons. Is that enough for a double? No, cubing now is a big mistake. With four men back, White anchored and some useful blocking points in White's outfield to negotiate, waiting is entirely correct and the cube is a blunder. The problem for Black is that he has very few market losing sequences, His best roll is probably 5-5 (23/8, 20/15) and if White dances after that he will actually be slightly too good to double! The rest of the time he will sometimes have a cube, sometimes not and will usually still get a take.
The other downside to cubing for a human is that Black's play isn't always easy, in fact I managed a blunder after double/take when I rolled 6/5. I played 21/10, but the pipcount tells the story. Because I lead, I need to dismantle my back position and start the journey through White's outfield while she is still dancing. 21/15, 20/15 is easily best, establishing a useful outfield point to act as a safe house for stragglers passing through. This roll (and the correct play) is actually a market loser after a dance, but not by much.
Hanging onto an anchor that has become irrelevant is a very common mistake, certainly one that I make a lot and I think it springs from a conception of the anchor as a safety net. Bg can't always be played like that and this position is one where Black needs to play boldly in order to reach a good doubling position, or if he has given the cube away, go for the win!
So bold cubing good, bold cubing in a difficult position with few market losers against a brilliant opponent, bad. Discriminate!
Until the next time, enjoy the game!