Position 83, page 156
From Backgammon, the Cruelest Game, by Barclay Cooke and Jon Bradshaw

White to play 5-4.

You will remember the rule that if you must leave a blot, you should move your men in such a way as to give your opponent the least number of shots. In this instance, however, the wiser course is to contradict the “percentage play.”

The play giving black the least number of shots is to move one man from the 6 point to the 1 point and the other from the 5 point to the 1 point, leaving black a 1 to hit; or to move two men from the 6 point, leaving black a direct 2. Each play leaves the least number of shots, but both are unconscionable, since they destroy white’s board and in all probability he will be worse off on his next roll. It is better, therefore, to seek an alternate way of playing the 5-4 even though it is less safe.

Many players would bring a 5 down from black’s 12 point to their 8 point and play the 4 from white’s 6 point to white’s 2 point, leaving themselves vulnerable to a 1 and to some vague indirect shot (in this case, a 9). But this too would be incorrect.

Instead, white should bring both men from the 12 point, one to the 8 point and the other to the 9 point, where he will be exposed to a direct 5 and a 3-2. This play might appear to be less safe, but it is much less dangerous. To give these two extra shots is much safer than giving the 1 and the 9. In the latter, the total number of shots that will hit is 16, whereas in the recommended play * the number of shots that will hit is only 13. And additional advantage to this play is that it is easier to transport your blot to safety on the next roll.

Not: 6/1, 5/1
Not: 6/1, 6/2
Not: 13/8, 6/2
13/8, 13/9  *
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Tom Keith 2013 
Money play
Centered cube
White rolls 5-4

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Checker play: 3-ply
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5-4: Game BG   Equity
1 13/9, 13/8 W
+0.3614 x  *
2 6/1, 5/1 W
−0.1499 (0.5113)  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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