|Magriel's NYT Columns|
Almost any time of day or night several games can be found in progress. A similar pattern has evolved in the United States; many clubs that in the past were exclusively devoted to bridge now have an active backgammon component.
The diagrammed position occurred during a recent late-night game at the Bridge Club de Paris. Black, an experienced player, went astray when he made a premature hit without analyzing all aspects of the position.
||Black to play 4-2.|
Of course this leaves Black vulnerable with two men open in White’s outfield. White now has several deadly return shots from the bar — that is, combinations that both reenter and hit. Is this risk (11 chances in 30 hits) justified?
The answer is definitely no. First of all, the hit is ineffective: Even if White stays out, Black has a long way to go before reaching a winning position. Black still has to safety his blots and then worry about extricating his two back men on the 24-point. Indeed the 18-point is the vital point to help these two men escape, so giving it up at this stage is actually a serious loss.
Secondly, the hit is wrong because Black has a far better winning method. The correct play is 6/2, 4/2, ignoring White’s blot and patiently making the 2-point. This move puts White in a dilemma. With Black’s strengthened home board, White cannot safely give up his anchor on Black’s 3-point.
Furthermore, he cannot give up his mid-point (the 12-point) without giving Black a double direct shot and also losing control of the outfield. In fact, White, with only one spare man (on the 16-point), is almost out of playable moves. Black, with a spare man on the 13-point, can simply wait for White’s game to go to pieces.
Tom Keith 2013
Black owns 2-cube
Black rolls 4-2
1296 games with VR
Checker play: 2-ply
Cube play: 3-ply Red