Intercontinental Tourney Is Held for the First Time
Paul Magriel, 1979
New York Times, April 26, 1979
Backgammon The first Intercontinental Backgammon Tournament, sponsored by the American Backgammon Championships, was held last weekend, at the Aruba Concorde Hotel in Aruba. François Desmornes took top honors and won the Pepsi-Cola Trophy by defeating Steve Zolotow in an exciting 25-point final match. Mr. Desmornes staged a dramatic comeback late in this match. After first falling behind 20–13, he rallied, never lost another game, and so went on to win 25–20.

In other sections: Uli Koch beat Mike Carson in the Consolation; Arthur Dickman won the last chance; Ruth Blasko overcame Angelika Algava in the Intermediate; Paul Pilzer took the beginners; Jason Lester teamed up with Linda Schembre to win the doubles.

In the diagram position, taken from an early round, one player (Black) is well ahead in the race. His only concern at this time is to come home safely.

Black to play 6-1.
With 6-1 to play, Black made the 10-point by moving 16/10, 11/10. Black reasons that this is the only play that leaves no immediate shot for White. Even though White is on the bar against a 5-point board, Black does not want to take any chances. This move, however, has a flaw that becomes evident when analyzed more deeply.

The correct and safest overall play is 16/9. This moves leaves Black vulnerable to an immediate roll of 4-5 by White, hitting Black’s blot on the 9-point. The likelihood of this happening, however, is small. Only two out of 36 possible rolls hit Black, or, in the language of odds, it is 17-to-1 against White hitting the blot. Even though a 17-to-1 shot is unlikely, why would Black wish to “pay off” to anything, given his strong position?

(a) 16/10, 11/10
(b) 16/9
The answer is that 16/10, 11/10 only postpones leaving a 17-to-1 shot. For even if White stays on the bar next roll, Black will have to break the 10-point and almost certainly (except for 4-5 or doubles) leave a similar indirect shot.

Holding the 10-point, 16/10, 11/10, also has a hidden danger that play 16/9 avoids. If Black next rolls a 6-5 or 6-4, he will be forced to slot on the 4-point and leave an embarrassing direct shot.

The final and most important reason for not making the 10-point is that if White reenters on the 4-point, Black will then have trouble bringing the outer board men in safely. In fact, there is a good chance that he will give White a direct shot while trying to clear the 10-point.

Although it is important to be aware of immediate shots, a prudent player will also examine subsequent rolls before determining his best course of action.

XG logo
Tom Keith 2013 
Money play
White owns 2-cube
Black rolls 6-1

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

6-1: Game BG   Equity
1 16/9 W
+0.7955 x  (b)
2 16/10, 11/10 W
+0.7638 (0.0317)  (a)

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