|Magriel's NYT Columns|
Lyn Goldsmith, one of the best
female players in the world in 1980. The 1980 Spring Backgammon Tournament, sponsored by the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, was held recently at New York City’s Regency Whist Club. This annual event, limited to 64 contestants, was won by Peter Kikis, an experienced New York player. He defeated Lyn Goldsmith 25–19 in a hard-fought finals match. Philip Litrel and William Healey were the semifinalists; Dr. John Martens overcame Nick Gura in the consolation.
Miss Goldsmith, a commodities broker, is widely considered the world’s best woman player, although she has not been active in tournament play for more than a year. In the diagrammed position, she demonstrated the aggressive style and sharp tactics that made her successful in the past.
Miss Goldsmith (Black) has a considerable advantage in this critical double-match-point position, which occurred in the second round against Monica Mathieu (White). Black is well ahead in the race and need only come home safely in order to win. White’s only chance is to wait on the 2-point, hoping to hit a shot.
||Black to play 6-3.|
Black’s distribution also suffers from the defect of having a single spare man on the 7-point without a corresponding spare on the 6-point. This makes it hard for Black to “clear” the 7-point before the 6-point and it also gives Black some awkward rolls. In particular, for the next two turns, Black may have problems with combinations containing a 5.
Miss Goldsmith (Black) refused to play passively and struggle home, worrying on each roll about giving a shot. Instead, she courageously played 11/2*, hitting White on the 2-point. If White fails to hit back immediately with a 2 (11 chances out of 36 possible), Black has an excellent chance (29 out of 36) to cover the 2-point and close White out — thus effectively ending White’s chances.
Giving an immediate shot, however, is not as reckless as first appears. Even if White hits back, far from being a certain winner, White may not yet be a favorite! White will still have his hands full trying to contain Black while also escaping from behind Black’s prime (from the 3-point to the 7-point). Because Black still has a dangerous 5-point home board, any shot Black hits will probably be a winner. By contrast, the conservative alternative, 11/5, 10/7, allows White to improve his home position so that if White hits later, it will almost certainly be fatal for Black.
Tom Keith 2013
Black rolls 6-3
1296 games with VR
Checker play: 2-ply
Cube play: 3-ply Red