Patience and Fortitude Can Lead to a Victory
Paul Magriel, 1978
New York Times, December 28, 1978
Venice Patience is a virtue in many games, but probably in no other game is it as important for winning as in backgammon. The caprice of the dice try even the most experienced player, often leading him to make rash judgments.

For example, the inability to reject an unsound double and move on to the next game probably accounts for more losses in backgammon than any other single factor. What is seldom realized is that patience is often the best strategy in not only the use of the doubling cube, but also moving the checkers.

Such a strategy was successfully used in the diagrammed position taken from the finals of the Crystal Cup in Venice this Fall. George Sulimirski of London, the surprise winner of this tournament, defeated Frederico Franzi of Milan in the finals match. Earlier, Sulimirski had staged upset victories over Lewis Deyong and Paul Magriel.

Black to play 6-4.
In this position, Sulimirski (Black) had already been doubled by Franzi (White). White is ahead in the running game, but has a man exposed on the 7-point. With Black’s roll of 6-4, the temptation is to hit this man and immediately try to contain it.

This plan, however, is both unrealistic and dangerous. Black’s home board is weak and disorganized and so Black cannot hope to keep White back for long. A premature hit by Black can also backfire easily, not only giving White immediate return shots, but also many opportunities for disastrous shots on succeeding rolls. Black cannot afford to be hit because of White’s strong board.

The correct play is 13/9/3, moving a man all the way from the mid-point (13-point) without hitting. While Black is eager to hit, he decides instead to patiently bide his time and strengthen his home board first. Because Black is holding the 18-point, he can expect to get a shot much later, when White tries to come home safely from the 12-point. By this time, Black will have constructed a strong home board; hitting a man will not prove effective.

(a) 13/9/3
(b) 18/8
Safely playing 18/8 is also a possible move. But 13/9/3 is better for Black because it enables him to keep a third spare man on the 18-point. In many variations it will be necessary to Black to hit from the 18-point, and with three men there he can hit without having to give it up.

In general, when a player owns the doubling cube, it is often wiser to make more passive and conservative plays. This is particularly true when your opponent has a stronger home board than you. By waiting, you preserve your equity later in the game, as well as avoid being gammoned.

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Tom Keith 2013 
Money play
Black owns 2-cube
Black rolls 6-4

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

6-4: Game BG   Equity
1 18/8 W
−0.0168 x  (b)
2 13/3 W
−0.0313 (0.0145)  (a)
3 13/7*, 6/2 W
−0.0583 (0.0415) 

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