Position 22, page 61
From Backgammon for Blood, by Bruce Becker

White to play 5-3.

For the 5-3 throw, I move one man from B12 to W5.

There are some who advocate making the 3 point when you have a 5-3 opening; I don’t. This early in the game the 3 point is a waste. It does not really help in blocking your opponent’s moves; not until you have made several of the higher-numbered points will this one have value. But making it now will have the disadvantage of effectively removing these two men from action; your mobility will be markedly decreased, and you will soon find yourself in trouble.

Another way of playing the 5-3 opener, which is better than making the 3 point but is not as good as the move to the 5 point I’ve just described, is to move one man from B12 to W8 and one man from B12 to W10. If you are not hit (there are five ways in which you can be) you then have only thirteen ways to cover the blot on the W10 point, and two of these (the 3-1 move) are better utilized to make the W5 point instead. In addition, six other throws are good: a 4-1 throw makes the W9 point; a 5-1 throw makes the W5 point; and a 6-2 throw makes the W4 point. So, if we eliminate the 3-1 throw from consideration here, there are only seventeen ways to utilize the blot on W10.

Therefore, the comparison for me is this: playing my recommendation, the blot on W5 can be advantageously hit by my opponent in nine ways, and I have twenty-four ways to cover it if it is not hit. Playing the alternative move, the blot on W10 can be hit in five ways, and can be utilized in seventeen ways — but of these, eleven are to make the W10 point, which is not as valuable as the W5 point.

Given the option, I prefer at this early stage of the game to have four men on the B12 point rather than the W8 point; therefore, I consider the move I recommend well worth the risk.

13/5  *
Alt: 8/3, 6/3 x
Alt: 13/8, 13/10
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Tom Keith 2013 
Money play
Centered cube
White rolls 5-3

1296 games with VR
Checker play: 3-ply
Cube play: XG Roller

5-3: Game BG   Equity
1 8/3, 6/3 W
+0.0980 x  Alt
2 24/21, 13/8 W
+0.0198 (0.0782) 
3 13/10, 13/8 W
−0.0027 (0.1007)  Alt
4 24/16 W
−0.0114 (0.1094) 
5 13/5 W
−0.0138 (0.1118)  *

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List of Positions from Backgammon for Blood

Backgammon for Blood (1974), by Bruce Becker

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