Triple Duplication Totaled a Sum Equal to Fine Victory
Paul Magriel, 1979
New York Times, December 9, 1979
Erik Seidel
Erik Seidel later became
famous as a poker player
Last summer the first International Backgammon Championship of Puerto Rico was held at the Cerromar Beach Hotel in Dorado Beach. This event, sponsored by Rums of Puerto Rico, drew a strong field of internationally recognized experts. Kal Robinson of Los Angeles defeated Peter Gold of London in the best-two-out-of-three 15-point finals match.

Many new young players also turned in excellent performances. For example, 20-year-old Erik Seidel of New York won the consolation, and 18-year-old Jay Whitehead, a San Francisco chess senior master, won the last chance.

In the diagrammed position, Seidel (Black) demonstrated the mature judgment that enabled him to beat a strong opponent in the consolation finals match. The game is still in its formative stage; neither side has yet made a point in the home boards. Although White has had a third man sent back, he has compensated by establishing Black’s bar-point (the 7-point).

Black to play 2-1.
With 2-1 to play, Black could safety both his blots (exposed men) by moving 15/13, 9/8. Despite his lead in the race, Seidel realized that it was premature to attempt to avoid any contact with White. Indeed, stacking all his men on only three points (the 6-, 8-, and 13-points) would be shortsighted. Without any flexibility Black would soon find that most of his rolls played awkwardly. By playing safe immediately, Black will only postpone the danger and give White a chance to strengthen his home board. If Black is hit later he will not be able to fight back because of his failure to improve his position.

At the beginning of the game, Black’s first priority is to rapidly bring all his men into play and attempt to establish new points. Black correctly plays 15/14, 6/4.

(a) 15/13, 9/8:
An inflexible position
(b) 15/14, 6/4:
White's 2's are triplicated
With this move Black unstacks a man from the 6-point and starts the 4-point while retaining valuable builders on the 14- and 9-points. Black is willing to accept the risk of being hit in order to develop a strong game. Furthermore, even if hit next turn, Black has little to fear because White is temporarily so weak and disorganized.

Notice also that the danger of being hit is not as great as may first appear. Even though Black has left three men exposed (on the 4-, 9-, and 14-points), White needs the same number, a 2, to hit in each place. The number that White needs to hit with, 2, is said to be “duplicated.” By duplicating White’s good numbers, Black reduces his chance of being hit — despite his three blots, he is effectively leaving only a single direct shot instead of a double or triple shot.

XG logo
Tom Keith 2013 
Money play
Centered cube
Black rolls 2-1

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

2-1: Game BG   Equity
1 15/13, 9/8 W
−0.0216 x  (a)
2 13/10 W
−0.0353 (0.0137) 
3 15/14, 6/4 W
−0.0604 (0.0388)  (b)

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