Racing for the Moon — While Calculating
Paul Magriel, 1978
New York Times, January 26, 1978
Lona and Tim Holland
Lona and Tim Holland. Holland’s backgammon
books were dedicated to wife Lona.
To celebrate its official opening last Tuesday, the Park 65 Backgammon Club held a gala cocktail party with Tim Holland, the club’s president, as host. This attractive private club, in the Mayfair House Hotel at 65th Street and Park Avenue, has a select membership of backgammon devotees. Holland, who conceived the idea of Park 65, is one of the outstanding names in backgammon.

In the late 1960’s, he dominated international competition. He won the World Championship in 1969, 1970, and 1971, the first years that the tournament was held. He is also well known as the author of three books on the game. Although in recent years Holland has not actively pursued the professional backgammon circuit, he still excels at this game and many others. He is an accomplished bridge player and one of the best amateur golfers in the country.

The diagrammed position is drawn from Holland’s book, “Better Backgammon.”

Black to play 4-1.
Both sides have all but one of their men in their home boards. In order to begin bearing off, both Black and White must bring one last man around the board and home. With this objective in mind, Black, with a 4-1 to play, might move his back man as far as possible, playing 18/13.
(a) 18/13

The alert player may notice that 18/13 leaves Black exposed to being hit by 6-6. This player might move 18/14, 3/2, avoiding any possibility of being hit by White next roll.

Holland points out that 18/13 is nevertheless the correct play; if White rolls 6-6, Black actually wants to be hit! Let’s see what happens either way after White rolls double 6’s.

If Black plays 18/14, 3/2 and White rolls 6-6, White will sweep around the board, missing Black, and take a man off. Black will then have virtually no chance — he will be hopelessly behind in the race, with White about to redouble.

On the other hand, if Black plays 18/13 and White rolls 6-6, White will be forced to hit Black on the 13-point, continue on to the 19-point, and bear off the same man. Black, from the bar, will now have a direct shot back at White’s exposed man on the 20-point. By hitting, Black will be a strong favorite to win.

If White rolls 6-6 after
Black plays 18/14, 3/2.
If White rolls 6-6 after
Black plays 18/13.
There is another important reason to move to the 13-point. If White rolls any 6 besides 6-6, White will leap out to Black’s bar-point (the 7-point). Now, if Black is stationed on the 14-point, he has only an indirect shot (he is 7 pips away). From the 13-point, Black is assured a direct shot (6 or less pips away), giving him a much better chance for a vital hit.

XG logo
Tom Keith 2013 
Money play
White owns 2-cube
Black rolls 4-1

1296 games with VR
Checker play: 2-ply
Cube play: 3-ply Red

4-1: Game BG   Equity
1 18/14, 3/2 W
+0.4217 x 
2 18/13 W
+0.4174 (0.0043)  (a)

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