Position 47, page 76
From Backgammon, the Cruelest Game, by Barclay Cooke and Jon Bradshaw

Black to play 5-3.

If played strictly according to the percentages, the correct and apparently reasonable play would be to bear off one man from the 5 point and move the other man down to black’s 2 point, thereby giving white only a one-shot, the odds of which are 25 to 11 against, In order not to be hit, this in fact is the correct percentage play, On closer examination, however, there is more to this position that percentages.

If he is not hit, black’s next roll is fraught with danger. Any high number which is not a double, such as 6-5, 6-4, and 5-4, will give a double shot. Double 3’s also will give a double shot, and any roll that does not include a 1 or a 2 will leave at least a single shot. The recommended play *, therefore, is for black to bear off two men — one from the 5 point and another from the 3 point. By doing this, black is taking a calculated risk. In addition to the direct 4, this gives white two other shots (3-1 and 1-3) at black’s blot on the 5 point — odds of 23 to 13 against, but better than 25 to 11.

Taking two men off, moreover, gives black seven men off altogether, bringing him to just below the break-even point of nine men off. But the main reason for making this play is that if black is not hit, his next roll has many more chances of being safe, for regardless of what he rolls, he cannot leave a double shot; thus, it is the better play.

Not: 5/off, 5/2
5/off, 3/off  *
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Tom Keith 2013 
Money play
White owns 2-cube
Black rolls 5-3

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

5-3: Game BG   Equity
1 5/off, 3/off W
+0.5534 x  *
2 5/2, 5/off W
+0.3718 (0.1816)  Not

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List of Positions from Backgammon, the Cruelest Game

Backgammon, the Cruelest Game (1974), by Barclay Cooke and Jon Bradshaw

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