In Bearoff against 3-Point, Avoid Extra Men on 6-Point
Paul Magriel, 1980
New York Times, January 27, 1980
Backgammon The seventh Big Apple Backgammon Championship, sponsored by the Metropolitan Backgammon Association, was held recently in New York. Mike Singer defeated Moshe Horowitz to take first place in the championship division; Robert Bishop and Lee Fine were semifinalists. Andy Palumbo overcame Don Kandel in the consolation; Jay Davis beat David Dana in the intermediate.

The 11-point finals match was anticlimactic as Mike Singer routed his opponent 11 to 1. His 9-point semifinals match, however, was suspenseful and hard fought.

Indeed, after the diagrammed position was reached, Singer was fortunate to survive. With the score tied 7 to 7, Black (Horowitz) had only to complete his bearoff safely to win the match. The only hope for White (Singer) was to hold the 3-point and hope for a shot.

Black to play 6-2.
With the roll of 6-2, Black first removed a man from the 6-point (6/off), then considered how to play the 2. His instinct was to play 6/4 to prepare to clear the 6-point. Before making this play, he considered the alternative, 6/off, 2/off. He discovered that by taking two men off, only one combination, 3-3, would force him to leave a man exposed on the next turn. His original choice, 6/off, 6/4 would leave Black vulnerable to four combinations: 6-6, 5-5, 6-3, and 3-6. Because of this calculation, he played the alternative, 6/off, 2/off, to minimize the chances of leaving a shot on the next roll.
(a) 6/off, 6/4
(b) 6/off, 2/off
Unfortunately, Black’s initial instinct was better — the correct play is 6/off, 6/4. Black must look beyond the next roll. Keeping three men on the 6-point only postpones the danger of clearing it. After the correct play, Black has only two men on the 6-point and is prepared to come off it immediately. By taking a slightly increased risk on the next roll, Black avoids many unpleasant 2-, 3-, or 4-roll sequences.

In general, bearing off safely against a 3-point is not nearly so dangerous as against a 1- or a 2-point. Usually, any difficulty comes from the inability to play 3’s. To keep from getting into such a “3 squeeze,” it is wise for Black to avoid having extra men on the 6-point.

In the actual game, Black next rolled 6-4, which he safely played 6/off, 5/1, but this left him “stripped down” with no extra men on his three highest points. The following roll, 6-3, was a disaster. Black was unable to avoid exposing two men to a double direct shot. White hit one man and eventually closed Black out to win the game and the match.

XG logo
Tom Keith 2013 
Match to 9
White 7, Black 7
White owns 2-cube
Black rolls 6-2

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

6-2: Game BG   Equity
1 6/4, 6/off W
+0.7717 x  (a)
2 6/off, 2/off W
+0.7381 (0.0336)  (b)

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