Wednesday 9 March 2011
More California Dreaming
If you looked at the previous post, you will remember that we are looking at a player who won seven games to six but lost the match 9-7. We'll pick up the match at 2-2, with Red on roll in this position.
He trails in the race a little, 120-113, but he has some poweful attacking chances here. Would you double this? Unquestionably you should. Are you 100% certain that this is a take for White? No? Then turn the cube! Easy isn't it? The key to this position is not so much the number of wins and gammons that Red can expect from here (65% wins including 20 gammons according to Snowie), but the volatility. The time to double blitz positions is before they work, not afterwards and here Red is about to launch a powerful and gammonish attack with sixes, fours and threes. 5-4 escapes and Red's only very bad numbers are the non-hitting 5-5 (which is at least 20 pips for the race!) and 5-2. Sadly Red failed to double this juicy blitz and worse, failed to hit loose when he rolled 3-2. White breathed a sigh of relief and rolled 6-6, making two points and putting Red on the bar. Red fanned to leave this position with White on roll.
As White , would you double this? As Red, would you take? White leads 89-116, but he does have four blots, he has two high points open in his board and he still has one man trapped behind a broken five prime. White (me) went with the volatility, doubled and Red passed. Now this is interesting, because if Red owned this position, I swear that he wouldn't double, yet he passes! I was in good company cubing, as Snowie 3-ply will double this, but rollouts (Snowie and Gnu) show that this isn't yet a double and of course passing is awful. Don't think so? Play it 50 times owning the cube and you will be astonished how many different ways Red has to win, both when he enters quickly and later when White fails to escape. Don't forget that on average it takes White just over three rolls to roll a five and if he can't escape in four rolls his board has usually collapsed. These positions have an interesting feature that is often overlooked. Red will keep his block in position when he dances, but White has to keep moving when he can't escape. Cube ownership is huge too. Anytime Red can enter and White can't hit or escape, Red can redouble to 4. It's probably a take but it's no great bargain.
It can't be emphasised too often or too strongly; backgammon is a game of aggression and the most aggressive player is the winner more often than not. Ask any world class player which opponent he prefers, a cautious player who is timid with the cube or an aggressive player who turns the cube at the sniff of a gammon. You are only going to beat a better player if you get the luck, so make sure that when it comes your way you are winning more than one point.
Until the next time, enjoy the game!