Position 35, page 73
From Backgammon for Blood, by Bruce Becker

White to play 6-3.

For this move I bring two men down from the B12 point.

The W7 can be hit in seventeen ways (2-2, 3—3, 6-6, 4-2, 2-4, 5-1, 1-5, 6-1, 1-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-5, and 5-6), but of these there are six throws (2-2, 3-3, 6-1, 1-6, 4-2, and 2-4) that your opponent would otherwise be able to use very effectively, and so he must stop to consider whether or not to hit you or play them as he should. Since it really hurts him to not make his points with them, there are only eleven effective throws against this blot. Of course a 6-3, 3-6, or 3-3 throw hits both blots, and a 5-4 hits the blot on W10. I consider this to be a total of fourteen throws that can hit you. Against this is the potential on your next move if you are not hit: every single throw of the dice except the 5-4 will make one point or another! (Even the 5-4 will allow you to make the W3 point, but I would still prefer not to make it, and so am not counting this as a possibility.) Some of these throws will make points without using these builders; if so, their potential (as builders) remains for your next throw as well. But isn’t it an exhilarating feeling to know that on your next throw virtually anything you roll will make a point?

Other authors have different recommendations for this move. One of them runs a man from B1 to B10. I don’t like that either.

Primarily, I have, as noted, a big objection to breaking up the B1 point so early in the game. But there are other disadvantages to these alternatives.

As for the first suggestion, the move to the B10 point, I have the same objections here as I did to this move for the 5-4 throw: it is of no use on your next roll, except for a 6-4; and because the blot is so vulnerable it must quickly be removed from danger.

As for the second suggestion, it is even worse: it leaves the B7 blot vulnerable not only to being hit in seventeen ways, but also gives your opponent a builder on a point that is very important for him to cover early if he can. So, if he hits you there, he is fully utilizing any 6 throw he gets, and he has none of the disadvantages of doing so. Should you be hit, and should your opponent not cover this blot simultaneously, you have only sixteen ways of coming in and hitting him in turn, and even then you are merely achieving the same disadvantageous position from which you were just forcibly ejected.

Further, this move commits you almost irrevocably to your next move. For if the blot is not hit (or if it is hit and you hit your opponent’s blot in turn), you cannot leave it uncovered on this point. To do so is suicide. Once your move to B7, you are committed to either covering it (thereby virtually foregoing any option for a back game) or getting out of there fast — and then its only immediate value accrues if you throw a 5-3, 3-5, 6-2, 2-6, or 4-4, and of which would allow you to cover the blot on W10. Other throws would either bring this blot to safety, or put it into another position of vulnerability — and neither situation is particularly desirable.

The argument sometimes made in favor of these alternatives is that they start your running game. This not only specious reasoning but is, in fact, dangerous: it gets you running too early. And in terms of forward progress per se, the practical measurement is in terms of getting your men into your inner board; it makes no difference for this purpose which of your men do the running at any given moment as long as the moves are not wasted. Consequently, when you are talking about “forward progress,” one man move nine points from B1 to B10 does not achieve this purpose any faster than two men move six points and three point respectively from the B12 point.

An argument in favor of the second alternative that might be more reasonably advanced is that if the W7 blot is hit, you are set back eighteen points, whereas if it is the B7 blot that is hit you are only set back seven points. However, when weighed against the other considerations, this eleven-point differential is not as valuable to me as the potential advantages of being on the W7 point.

13/10, 13/7  *
Alt: 24/15
Alt: 24/18, 13/10 x
XG logo
Tom Keith 2013 
Money play
Centered cube
White rolls 6-3

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

6-3: Game BG   Equity
1 24/18, 13/10 W
+0.0244 x  Alt
2 24/15 W
−0.0124 (0.0368)  Alt
3 13/4 W
−0.0533 (0.0777) 
4 24/21, 13/7 W
−0.0659 (0.0903) 
5 24/21, 24/18 W
−0.0694 (0.0938) 
6 13/10, 13/7 W
−0.0846 (0.1090)  *

Previous Position
No. 33, page 71
Next Position
No. 38, page 76

List of Positions from Backgammon for Blood

Backgammon for Blood (1974), by Bruce Becker

Backgammon Galore : Books