How did you do?
For checker plays (Problems 5-7), use the numbers on the board. For double decisions (Problems 1-4), choose one of these: No Double/Take; No Double/Pass; Double/Take; Double/Pass. Good luck!
Problem 1: White is 11-away/7-away; White on roll
If you’re Red, you’re probably thinking, I don’t want this double because I’m ahead 4-0 and with my blot on my 11 point it could easily be 4-4 if I take. By Woolsey’s Law, it’s a clear double.
But Red has reasonable chances to win this game. First, White has to cover the four point: six numbers don’t cover or make the one point. Even if White covers, Red can still button up and be in it until the end.
For money, it’s a take. At this score, however, it’s a pretty big drop.
Problem 2: Red is 6-away/4-away; Red on roll
Red’s gammons loom large. At 4.4%, so do Red’s backgammons.
At this score, with White an even number of points away, it’s slightly too good.
Not much will be different next time Red is on roll. So why double now? It doesn’t really cost to wait.
That said, over the board, this is an excellent double. If the opponent takes as little as one out of 16 times, the double is better.
Let’s be honest: Holding the one point, how many times have we seen White pull out situations like this? And who doesn’t like to play a back game?
Problem 3: Red is 5-away/4-away; Red on roll
Same as Position 3, but with Red trailing by one less point, the position is no longer too good and is instead a D/P.
Because of the high probability of gammons, the score makes all the difference: With Red 4-away, 8-away, it’s a double/take, and with Red 2-away, 4-away, it’s not even a double.
Problem 4: 3-away/3-away; White on roll
White looks strong. True, White is down 15 in the race, but White is simultaneously pursuing a back game, a priming game, and an attacking game.
But it’s not even close to a double! Apparently having three games plans at once isn’t such a great idea.
Using PRAT, the home boards are equal. Position = 0.
White doesn’t have a lot of (any? Maybe 6-1 then bounce…) market losers. Threat = 0.
White is ahead; Race = 1.
White doesn’t have a huge gammon edge (18% vs 12%). Gammon Vig = 0.
Total PRAT = 1, not even close to the 2 required for a cube. That said, at the score of 3-away, 3-away early doubles are OK. Just not this early.
Problem 5: 3-away/3-away; Red to play 6-4
Yes, this was a trick question. It’s tempting to go for symmetry and make the bar point, but in general, making the next point in your home board is right, and it is here as well.
Note that playing safe with 11/5 10/6 is a 0.316 blunder. Making a point is worth the downside of leaving a shot, especially here where there are likely to be many return shots if Red is hit.
Problem 6: 3-away/3-away; Red to play 5-1
Red’s gotta be nervous about getting those back checkers out. But patience is the best approach. The score is close: Make White be the first to leave a shot.
Red can’t make a point, so button up!
Problem 7: White is 3-away/2-away; White to play 4-3
After the roll, the race is even. The boards are the same. But Red can play a bit bolder holding White’s 4 point. White’s 8/5 7/3 is safe and perfectly reasonable.
But 24/21 7/3 puts pressure on Red and simultaneously starts a home board point. Thing is, it’s darn ugly. It’s hard to imagine convincing your doubles partner it’s the right play!
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