Hitting on the One-Point Serves Several Purposes
Paul Magriel, 1978
New York Times, July 6, 1978
Rhode Island The Rhode Island Backgammon Classic, under the direction of Mike Passarelli, was held June 16 to 18. In honor of the event, those three days were officially Rhode Island Backgammon Weekend, and the 25-point finals match took place in the State House Rotunda.

There, Paul Foster took first place, defeating David Groner, recent winner of the Metropolitan Open. Al Tesaro took the consolation. Paul Coppenwrath won in the intermediate section, and William Evans was victorious among the beginners.

In his 19-point semifinals match, Foster had to work hard to overcome Stephen Carr, director of New York’s Bar Point House of Backgammon. Carr, trailing 17–15, made a key play that enabled him to tie the match, 17 to 17.

In the diagram, Carr (Black) and Foster (White) have each made important early gains. Black has constructed a better home board, but White has already escaped with one back man. Black’s major objective now is to prevent White from getting away with his only remaining back runner. At any time, White could roll a 6 and run away. To stop White, Carr realized that he needed to make his bar-point (the 7-point). With this point, he would form a solid 5-point prime, from which White would have great difficulty escaping.

Black to play 5-1.
Unfortunately, Black lacks the spare men or builders he needs to make the bar-point easily. His best course of action is to try to seize the point aggressively, and without delay. One standard possibility in positions like this is to slot the bar-point. Black could play 13/7, leaving a single man there and gambling that he will not be hit by a direct 6-shot.

Carr found an even more effective way to gain control of the key point. He played 8/7, 6/1*, slotting the bar and simultaneously hitting “loose” on the 1-point.

(a) 13/7
(b) 8/7, 6/1*
With this move, he has protected the all-important man slotted on the bar-point. Black is not particularly concerned with whether White hits him back on the 1-point.

Hitting on the 1-point serves several purposes. Primarily, it keeps the man on the bar-point safe. By keeping White temporarily occupied, it also virtually eliminates the immediate risk of White’s escape from Black’s home board. In addition, hitting prevents White from developing his own position by making a point on his side of the board.

XG logo
Tom Keith 2013 
Match to 19
White 17, Black 15
Centered cube
Black rolls 5-1

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

5-1: Game BG   Equity
1 8/7, 6/1* W
+0.3401 x  (b)
2 24/23, 6/1* W
+0.3056 (0.0345) 
3 13/7 W
+0.1827 (0.1574)  (a)

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