A Very Nasty Break — And a Winning Play
Paul Magriel, 1978
New York Times, May 18, 1978
Lewis Deyong
Lewis Deyong
Two of England’s top-rated players, Lewis Deyong and Alan Lorenz, met in the finals of last month’s international tournament in St. Tropez, France. Rarely do the same two players ever meet in the finals more than once; remarkably, this was the third such encounter between Deyong and Lorenz in major competitions in less than a year. In this year-long rivalry, the record was tied until Deyong took first place in St. Tropez with a narrow 13–12 victory.

Deyong is known internationally not only as a player, but also as a writer and tournament director. For the last two years he has supervised Philip Morris International’s highly successful European backgammon program. He personally directs that organization’s two most important annual events, the World Championship in Nassau (in January) and the European Championship in Monte Carlo (in July).

In addition, he has made a significant contribution to the game through his writing. Deyong is editor of the International Backgammon News and author of “Playboy’s Book of Backgammon,” published last year. Drawing from his extensive experience, Deyong has produced a book rich in anecdotes about international competitions and personalities. Also, he gives the reader several valuable ideas on tactics and strategy. He emphasizes in particular a significant and often-neglected point — that the best play can often be found by considering the game from the opponent’s perspective: “Make the move your opponent does not want you to make.”

Black to play 4-2.
The diagrammed position, taken from Deyong’s book, illustrates this point. Black has a man on the bar and he rolls a 4-2. Black must use the 2 to reenter, making the 23-point, and then consider how to play the 4. The safe play is 10/6, simply bringing a spare man to the 6-point. However, Black has a superior but riskier play, 9/5. Black aggressively slots his 5-point; in other words, he places a single man there, exposing it to a direct 4-shot by White. To see why this risk is justified, look at the position, as Deyong suggests, from White’s point of view.
Black to play 4-2,
from White's point of view.
For White to win, he must extricate his one back man from behind Black’s broken prime. He can get out only by rolling a 4 and escaping via Black’s 5-point. As it stands, White probably feels he is a favorite because he expects to have two or three turns to do this before his own position crumbles.

By slotting, Black puts White in a do-or-die situation. Now White is suddenly under great pressure to roll a 4 immediately, hitting Black. If White fails to roll a 4, Black will be almost certain to cover the blot on the 5-point and so create a winning 6-point prime. In fact, if White fails to roll a 4, Black will double and White must pass.

Black should not be afraid of the bold play; slotting the 5-point is the very move his opponent fears most.

XG logo
Tom Keith 2013 
Money play
Centered cube
Black rolls 4-2

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

4-2: Game BG   Equity
1 bar/23, 9/5 W
+0.0485 x 
2 bar/23, 11/7 W
−0.2319 (0.2804) 
3 bar/23, 10/6 W
−0.2327 (0.2812) 

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