|Magriel's NYT Columns|
In the diagrammed position, Black has formed a broken five-point prime in front of White’s two men on the 3-point. Despite his strong position, Black must not be complacent about winning — merely by sitting on Black’s 3-point and waiting, White may eventually have chances in a straight race. Instead, Black must examine White’s position and choose the play that will create the most difficulties for White.
||Black to play 4-1.|
In order for Black to translate his positional superiority into a victory, he must make use of the fact that all of his men are very much “alive” and in play, whereas four of White’s men are “dead.” White will always be short-handed and so cannot afford to play a prolonged game.
With this in mind, Black decides on a novel move. He correctly plays 21/20*, 6/2, hitting White and slotting (leaving a single man exposed) on the 2-point.
Black welcomes an exchange of hits if White reenters on the 2-point. By sending Black back, White would create a longer and more complicated game, which he is ill-equipped to play. Because his flexibility is so limited, White will repeatedly be forced to play awkward rolls. Indeed, it is quite likely that White may end up with four or five men back and lose a gammon.
If White doesn’t hit, Black will be happy to make the 2-point, strengthening his home board and making White’s position more precarious. Furthermore, Black also gains by keeping a man back in White’s home board: the back man exerts control over White’s outer board and makes it harder for White to avoid contact as he attempts to come home. The more entangled the play, the more White’s weakness will tell.
Tom Keith 2013
White owns 2-cube
Black rolls 4-1
1296 games with VR
Checker play: 2-ply
Cube play: 3-ply Red