Tacticians Look for Trouble before it Can Ensnare Them
Paul Magriel, 1979
New York Times, November 25, 1979
  Barclay Cooke
Barclay Cooke
Kumar Motakhausses
Kumar Motakhausses
An International Challenge match sponsored by I.T.T. World Communications was recently held between two strong teams from Europe and United States. Luigi Villa, current world champion, led the European team, which included Kumar Motakhausses, Beverly Phillips, and Serge Lorenzin.

The United States was represented by Barclay Cooke, Oswald Jacoby, Lee Genud, and Paul Magriel. In an unusual arrangement, the players did not meet face-to-face, but played via a high-speed facsimile, relayed by satellite between Geneva and New York.

After three days, the score was tied, and the outcome depended on the final game between Barclay Cooke (Black) and Kumar Motakhausses (White). White developed an early lead, and seemed near victory. He had almost finished bearing in, and had only one point in the outfield still to clear. An unfortunate roll, however, forced him to give Black a direct shot, as seen in the diagrammed position. The United States team was overjoyed when Cooke rolled 3-2.

Black to play 3-2.
Cooke played the 2, 20/18*, making the crucial hit. Although the choices for playing the 3 seemed insignificant, Cooke looked at his options carefully. Because Cooke had a perfect home board, he knew that White could not reenter until he brought his men around and began to bear off. To win, in fact, Cook had only to avoid having an accident himself.

Cooke realized that continuing the same man 18/15 would jeopardize the game unnecessarily. Consider what would happen if Black next rolls 6-6. With the first three 6’s, Black must play 15/3, 9/3. The last 6 would be forced: 6/off, and Black would then have a single man exposed on the 6-point. If White reenters and hits, he may well salvage an otherwise hopeless position.

(a) 20/18*, 18/15
(b) 20/18*, 9/6
Cooke anticipated this admittedly unlikely pitfall, and avoided it by correctly playing 20/18*, 9/6, winning the game and, thus, the match. By moving the 3 into his home board, Black protects himself against 6-6: he can safely play it 18/6, 6/off(2).

In general, it is unwise to worry about rolling a specific double, because this may distort the natural course of play. The possibility of rolling a particular number is seldom an important consideration, especially in active middle-game positions. However, when there is nothing else to worry about, then a player can take the time to consider minor variations. He should take precautions to avoid “paying off” to an unfortunate sequence of rolls, even if the probability of losing is small.

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Tom Keith 2013 
Money play
Centered cube
Black rolls 3-2

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

3-2: Game BG   Equity
1 20/18*, 9/6 W
+1.0255 x  (b)
2 20/18*/15 W
+1.0169 (0.0086)  (a)
3 20/18*, 5/2 W
+1.0158 (0.0097) 

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