From The Backgammon Book, by Oswald Jacoby and John R. Crawford
||White to play 5-3.|
The 5 is easy to play: move from the black twelve point to your eight point. But there are three ways to handle the 3. You can move a back man to the black four point, but this is a very poor move since any combination of 6-4, 6-2, 4-2, 4-4, or 2-2 would allow him to “point” on you there. You can move from your six point to your three point; this leaves you completely safe but in poor position since you have advanced a third man to the three point long before there is any good reason to do so.
The best play with the 3 is to hit the blot on your five point. This play would never have been considered in the early days of modern backgammon. Your are exposing a man in your home board to eighteen rolls (the man on the bar can hit you coming in with any roll containing 5, plus 4-1 and 3-2; and he can bring his man in off the bar and then hit you with his man on your one point if he rolls 4-2 or double 4). It is thus even money — eighteen out of thirty-six chances — that you will be hit; and if you are hit, a man goes all the way back from your own five point to the bar.
The modern expert doesn’t care at all. He doesn’t see great loss if he is hit. All it does is to give him three back men instead of two. He will plan to deploy these back men in the black inner board. If possible, he will keep one on the one point and pair the other two on the four or five point. (In any case he will maintain some point in the black inner board and will not split his men onto three separate points. That sort of play leads to destruction: black will try to point on one of those three blots, or if black fails to point directly on you, there are any number of combination shots that will enable him to hit two of your men — even though he may leave a blot himself — and leave you with two men on the bar.)
Now look at the good side of the coin. It is also even money that he won’t hit your blot on the five point. If he rolls double 6, double 3, or 6-3, he won’t be able to play at all and will have missed an excellent roll. If he gets any of these or a playable roll that doesn’t hit your blot, it will leave you ready — and probably able — to make your five point on your next roll. You would then have three good points made in your inner board, as against his solitary six point in his home board. Remember that the three point becomes a good point once you are able to make either your five or four point.
Tom Keith 2013
White rolls 5-3
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