the dorbel daily

Friday, 16 March 2012


This position from the last post, with which you are probably now very bored, generated a lot of comment on

The story so far. I thought that, although this position is technically to good to double, it was a good practical double. This attracted a lot of criticism, on the grounds that nobody sober would dream of taking this, so you don't ever get a wrong pass. Wrong passes are worth a lot when doubling positions that might or might not be too good.
My reasoning for advocating cashing as a sound practical play was that you get your point for nothing. You can't make errors if you get hard rolls, you can't be jokered and you aren't vulnerable to horrible oversights. This attitude was criticised by several, on the grounds that you can't teach people to play well by teaching them to play badly. I would agree with this actually, if those learning have ambitions to be a world class player. In practical terms though, most players would be very happy, given the limited time that they have to apply to the game, to be a strong intermediate! Think of it as insurance. When you hire a car, you can insure against excess damage claims, typically costing $20 for a $500 excess. As a bet, it's very bad, but for peace of mind it's very good. I like to view giving up some equity to get a solid point as insurance.

Is there anything else to add about this position? One of the players who took some time to look at this in detail was Stick Rice. As he is probably one of the ten best players in the world, you'd better believe that he knows what he is talking about. He showed this to a group of students at intermediate to open level, all of whom wanted to cash. None of them thought that it was too good, which is interesting. He also appended a guide to what he thought we should be thinking about when making the decision to double or play on. I can't improve on it, so here it is.

  • Is it too good? (a toughie, I know)
  • How too good is it? (the size of the play on)
  • Would anyone in his right mind take this cube?
  • If things go badly for me is it still likely that my opponent will toss up his hands and pass a cube just because he knew I was playing on the entire time?
  • How hard is it to play out for me? For my opponent?

I love to play on in actual play. People generally know you're playing on even if it's a small no play on they get that is what is happening and when things go sour for you they sort of toss their hands up and pass the cube automatically that may very well be a take (or even better yet, a no double) just happy to escape from the game.

The fourth point here is very interesting. Mochy once told me (not that I'm a name-dropper) that it was very unusual for a position to go from too good to double/take in a roll without a massive joker. If of course, the side playing on has only been just too good, then that is much more likely.

I left you with some of the later decisons that you might face after playing on. Here's the first.

6/off is correct. The White blot inboard gives us the licence to take a man off and keep the board.

Here on the other hand, taking two off is a big mistake. The best play is 6/4*/1. Applause if you found that one.

Cube action? We're back in cash or too good territory and this one is double/pass. Both failing to double and taking are big blunders. If you don't double and dance and White rolls 5-1, you can get to this one. Great play by White by the way!

It's still a double because of those four blots and the open 4pt but White's take is now very easy.

Lastly, another cute checker bear-in play.

On auto-pilot we might all play 12/5 or the inferior 8/6, 8/3, but he clear winner is 12/7, 8/6! This gives us the most closing numbers for the 2pt and gives us shots from the bar to put White back on the gammon if she can hit a fly shot. It also gives us awkward 6-6 and 5-5 next, but we mind those much less than usual with White's weak board and blot. Look out for these plays and win admiring looks from the flashy play crowd when you make them. Don't overdo it though. White's board really has to be this bad to make them work.

Thanks to all the GammonLine posters on this, not least because it's just about doubled my average readership! Stick with us guys and until the next time, enjoy the game!

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