Salvage Operation — And Reducing Risks
Paul Magriel, 1978
New York Times, April 20, 1978
In the bearoff when you have closed your opponent out, standard procedure is to take your men off as safely as possible. But when you are a decided underdog, you must often take unusual steps to salvage the game.

In the diagram, for example, Black was able to close White out only after White had already borne off 12 men. If White can come in within the next couple rolls, he will be able to shoot around the board and then bear off all three remaining men, before Black has a chance to catch up.

So Black’s priority shifts from bearing off as safely as possible to keeping White out as long as possible while he bears his own men off.

Black has just taken off his first two men and now has a 4-2 to play.

Black to play 4-2.
The correct play is 6/off, removing a single man from the 6-point — even though this leaves White a direct shot from the bar!

Although this play appears risky, careful analysis shows that actually it is not the slightest bit more dangerous than the seemingly safer “normal” play, 6/4, 6/2.

(a) 6/off (b) 6/4, 6/2
With both plays, Black opens the 6-point. Either way, if White reenters immediately with a 6, he will easily win the race by several rolls. Being hit by White at this time is thus irrelevant for Black — when White reenters, the game is virtually over. The advantage of the correct play, 6/off, is clear if White stays out: Black gets a valuable extra man off.

In general, in a “panic situation” such as this, your best hope is that your opponent will stay out a long time. Thus your primary objective is to keep the most points closed as long as possible while bearing men off. With this in mind, it is instructive to examine two other possible (but ill-advised) plays:

(c) 4/off, 4/2 (d) 4/off, 2/off
1. 4/off, 4/2, clearing the 4-point and taking a man off immediately. The disadvantage of this play is that next roll all 6’s and some 5’s will force Black to open a second point, giving White a better chance to come in.

2. 4/off, 2/off, taking two men off and leaving a double shot. This drastic measure is often taken even by experienced players. They reason that the only chance in this desperate situation is to bear off as quickly as possible, without any regard to safety. Again, the flaw in this play is that opening more points than necessary here is self-defeating. Bearing an extra man off is not nearly as important as maintaining a 5-point home board.

Rollout

Tom Keith 2013
Money play
Black owns 2-cube
Black rolls 4-2

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

 4-2: Game G BG Equity 1 5/1, 2/off W L .1914 .8086 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 −0.5592 2 6/off W L .1896 .8104 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 −0.5669 (0.0077) (a) 3 5/3, 4/off W L .1790 .8210 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 −0.5908 (0.0316) 4 4/off, 2/off W L .1651 .8349 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 −0.6173 (0.0581) (d) 5 6/4, 6/2 W L .1574 .8426 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 −0.6391 (0.0799) (b) 7 4/2, 4/off W L .1517 .8483 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 −0.6520 (0.0928) (c)

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