Answers to the Double Ace Quiz
Kit Woolsey, 1981
Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine, September 1981
light bulb These are the answers to the Double Ace Quiz, which is presented here.

Problem 1
Black to play 1-1.
11/8, 11/10. Black is running out of time, and must prepare to play future awkward rolls while waiting for an opportunity to leave the opposing five point. Rather than shifting points, which will lead to problems if a bad roll comes next, Black should break the eleven point. This leaves him three spare men to play with, so he can comfortably absorb most rolls and still threaten the opposing men on his five point.

Problem 2
Black to play 1-1.
6/5(2), 24/23(2). Black has the stronger front board by making his five point, so he should use the rest of his roll to improve his position on White's side of the board. With the recommended play Black attacks the man on White's eight point and guarantees that he won't be easily shut in. If Black instead makes his bar point, White may counter by making his own bar point, and we will have a prime-against-prime battle in which Black will have no particular advantage.

Problem 3
Black to play 1-1.
7/4, 7/6. White is likely to escape with one man on his next roll; if he doesn't, his board will start to crack. Consequently, it is important that Black maximize the number of builders bearing upon the remaining man on his three point. The recommended play leaves three builders — any other play leaves only two.

Problem 4
Black to play 1-1.
2/1*(2), 5/3. Black must go all out for the blitz, for if White succeeds in forming an anchor he will have a well-timed game. Consequently, Black must hit on the ace point. The recommended play leaves two builders bearing on the slotted point — any other play leaves at most one, and making a fifth point has the highest priority here.

Problem 5
Black to play 1-1.
Bar/22, 24/23. Black has a potentially strong backgame, but if he attempts to hold all three points in White's board he will slow White up and possibly lose his timing. Clearing the ace point forces White to play all his numbers, virtually guaranteeing Black timing. In addition, with a spare man on both defensive points, Black can afford to hit an early shot without losing his backgame if he fails to contain the hit man.

Problem 6
Black to play 1-1.
11/7. Black wants to slow himself up so he can win the battle of primes. The recommended play deprives Black of sixes, so if he rolls a six on his next roll he won't have to play half the roll. Any other play leaves Black sixes he can play, which is what he doesn't want.

Problem 7
Black to play 1-1.
6/2. Black does not want to bring in his back man, for he would then be forced to play a six from the eighteen-point, which could be disastrous. The recommended play avoids gaps in Black's board which may be difficult to cover late, allows Black to keep as many points in his board as possible on future rolls since he has started breaking from the back, and is better for the race than any other play.

Problem 8
Black to play 1-1.
6/2. Black's game plan is as follows: (1) Make the two point as fast as possible. (2) Release the bar point, squeezing White out with a six. (3) Pick up both men, close White out, and gammon him. The fastest way to make the two point is to slot it. There is virtually no danger in this; in fact, White won't hit even if he can.

Problem 9
Black to play 1-1.
6/4, 5/4(2). Safety is the number one criterion here. The recommended play is completely safe for the next roll, and also clears the five point for good, which more than compensates for the gap which makes the six point harder to clear. 6/4(2) leaves a potential double shot on a 6-5 and still leaves the five point uncleared. 6/5(4) makes fours awkward for severals rolls. And 6/5, 6/4, 3/2 leaves the three point stripped, which can be a serious defect later in the bearoff.

Problem 10
Black to play 1-1.
6/4, 7/5. Black's general goals are: Keep builders spread out, stay on high points, clear the six point, and be able to handle large doubles. The recommended play satisfies all these criteria. Clearing the six point with the doubles aces would be slightly safer, but would hurt Black's gammon chances too much.

Problem 11
Black to play 1-1.
10/6. Black's goal in getting off the gammon is to not waste pips, which means not bringing any men in past the six point. Consequently, any man which can be brought exactly to the six point satisfies the goal, so the recommended play is best. Crossovers are relatively unimportant at this stage, since Black can plan on three more rolls. It may later be right to slot to the ace point, but that is a decision to be made later, when Black sees his formation going into his last roll. To not waste any pips is now the highest priority.

Problem 12
Black to play 1-1.
1/off, 2/off, 2/1. Obviously, Black must take two men off. The fourth ace is best played to the ace point. If Black now rolls two large numbers on his next roll he can double White out, while if he plays to the three point, White will still have a take. Since there is no compensation for going to the three point, moving to the ace point is the best play.

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