From: Backgammon Galore : Woolsey-Bagai Match

Kit Woolsey vs. Jeremy Bagai
Game 3

Annotated by Kit Woolsey, Jeremy Bagai, and TD-Gammon

Match to 9:   Kit Woolsey - 2,  Jeremy Bagai - 2

Kit Woolsey is playing Red.
Jeremy Bagai is playing White.
Kit wins the opening roll.

Position 1: Red to play 53.

Position 2: White to play 21.

Kit: Splitting the back men with 24/23, 13/11 or even 24/21 is also reasonable. The split is more effective than usual since my eight point is stripped.

Jeremy: I can't say this play is wrong, but I'm surprised that I made it. I generally like splitting instead of slotting (this is hypermodern opening theory of the 90's -- as opposed to modern opening theory of the 70's and 80's which liked slotting -- as opposed to traditional opening theory of the last millennium which liked splitting). Here, where Kit's eight point is stripped, the ace split has even more going for it. 4-2 and 3-1 would leave direct shots instead of being Kit's perfecta's. I like 24/23, 13/11 better.

TD: Reasonably close, but I like splitting as I usually do.

    24/23, 13/11      -.128
    13/11, 6/5        -.138
    24/21             -.146

Position 3: Red to play 54.

Kit: I think this is better than running with 24/20*/15. The spare on the eight point is valuable, and I am threatening to make an advanced anchor. In addition, if Jeremy enters and hits I will have a direct shot back at him.

Jeremy: This looks better than 24/20*/15 because it adds a builder to the eight point, starts the defensive anchor, and provokes an exchange of hits while his board is stronger.

TD: I'm glad to see you guys have finally learned this play. Everybody used to play 24/20*/15 because they were so scared of the return six which hits. We modernists know that putting checkers where they belong is much more important.

    24/20*, 13/8      +.271
    24/20*/15         +.227
    24/20*, 8/3       +.065

Position 4: White to play 53 from the bar.

Kit: No choice, even though I have the stronger board. Jeremy must fight for his five point.

Jeremy: The battle for the five points begins. This is much better than B/20, 11/8 which removes a builder and gives Kit his whole roll to attack or consolidate.

TD: Closer than you might think, because stripping the eight point is serious. However, the hit is correct.

    B/20, 8/5*      -.286
    B/20, 11/8      -.307
    B/20, 24/21     -.370

Position 5: Red to play 31 from the bar.

Jeremy: Hitting is clear for it starts his five point and gives me fewer rolls to make mine. Kit's play is miles better than B/24, 8/5* because that puts less pressure on the blot on my five point and strips his eight point.

TD: Kit's play is automatic, for all the reasons Jeremy gives.

    B/22, 6/5*      +.208
    B/24, 8/5*      +.098
    B/21            +.089

Position 6: White to play 42 from the bar.

Jeremy: Might look a little risky with four loose blots, but there is no alternative that is close. My favorite maxim is, "He who leaves the most blots wins." (It applies often in the opening -- less often in the end-game.)

TD: What else is there?

    B/23, 24/20*      -.212
    B/21, 13/11       -.328
    B/21, 5/3*        -.363

Position 7: Red to play 31 from the bar.

Kit: B/24, 8/5* is also reasonable, since it gives me a better balanced offensive structure. A spare on the six point is better than a spare on the eight point, because I will be willing to give up my eight point to cover the blot on the five point while I will not be willing to give up my six point. I decided that locking up an advanced anchor in case of rain was more important.

TD: Correct. The advanced anchor makes the difference.

    B/22, 6/5*      +.060
    B/24, 8/5*      +.038
    B/21            -.019

Position 8: White to play 54 from the bar.

Jeremy: The double hit B/20*, 5/1* is horrible -- passing up the anchor, removing the slot of the five point, and starting the point I least want -- all in the name of a worthless tempo.

TD: Not go after the five points? Perish the thought.

    B/20*, 24/20      -.011
    B/20*, 5/1*       -.054
    B/20*/16          -.112

Position 9: Red to play 65 from the bar.

Position 10: White to play 43 from the bar.

Position 11: Red to play 11.

Kit: This is the best offensive play. The problem is that the offense has nowhere to go, since Jeremy owns my five point and I have no ammunition in position. I think I should have taken this opportunity to guarantee the strongest anchor and played 22/20(2).

Jeremy: I think this is an oversight. Sure the bar point is better than the eight point -- usually. But since I'm anchored on his five point, Kit isn't going to be doing any priming or attacking. Whether he likes it or not, this is going to be a mutual holding game and long-term flexibility is the key. Kit should play 22/20(2), ensuring that nothing bad happens to him for a long, long while. My guess is that there is a significant equity difference between the two plays.

TD: You guys have it analyzed quite well. Moving the back men is a must. Kit's actual play is a very costly blunder.

    21/20(2)               +.199
    24/23, 22/20, 14/13    +.183
    22/21, 22/20, 14/13    +.183
    8/7(2), 8/6            +.063

Position 12: White to play 53 from the bar.

Kit: Certainly best, particularly since the checker on the ten point isn't in direct range of any shooters. B/20, 23/20 is too inflexible.

Jeremy: Yes. Kit has no ammunition for an attack and I want some offensive points. B/20, 23/20 would be a waste.

TD: Once again, the boys are right on target.

    B/20, 13/10      -.124
    B/17             -.148
    B/20, 23/20      -.162

Position 13: Red to play 51.

Kit: It's hard to find much else. At least this puts a valuable builder in place on the bar point.

Jeremy: I don't see anything better.

TD: The best play is not at all obvious. The key is that Kit is so far ahead in the race that holding an anchor in Jeremy's board, particularly an anchor as deep as the three point, is not consistent with his game plan. He should be attempting to get everyone home, flooding the outfield before Jeremy has an opportunity to untangle his mess in Kit's board. For that reason 22/16 is the winner, despite all the shots it leaves. Just think thematically, and this type of play will pop out. You could tell by the comments that neither Jeremy or Kit were particularly satisfied with their choice, since they knew it wasn't what one should be trying to do in the position. They just couldn't find anything else. Admittedly the plays are close, since running out does leave a lot of shots.

    22/16          +.012
    13/7           +.004
    22/21, 14/9    +.003

Position 14: White to play 55.

Kit: Looks best. Jeremy sends another one of my men back, extricates two of his back men, and prepares to make a strong blockade in his outer board. 20/5, 10/5 is possible since the five point is so valuable, but Jeremy's play looks better to me since it does so many good things. Note that 21/11*, 6/1(2)* would be very bad. He would pay a serious long term price of having two checkers out of play in what figures to be a long positional struggle for the short term gain of seeing me have two men on the bar. Flexibility and keeping checkers in play are the watchwords for this type of position.

Jeremy: The alternative is making the five point, which looks slightly better to me now. Any play involving the ace point is very wrong -- Kit has graciously allowed me to keep my checkers in front of his anchor, and I must be accomodating.

TD: Jeremy should have stuck with his original choice -- it is best. Making the five point is just a bit too cramped, and hitting Kit's outfield checker is valuable. They are both correct that anything involving the ace point is awful. It is vital to keep checkers in front of the enemy anchor if at all possible.

    21/11*, 20/10         +.155
    20/5, 10/5            +.122
    21/11, 20/15(2)       +.040

Position 15: Red to play 21 from the bar.

Kit: I'm not planning to play a back game, of course, but this seems to be as good a place as any to make a stand while I see which way the wind is blowing.

Jeremy: I think this is the right play. Kit is not trying to play a back game; he will jump at an advanced anchor as soon as he can. However his play is better than B/22 because that would deny him the chance to play a back game if it comes to that.

TD: You guys aren't going to like this one. The best play by far is B/23, 22/21. What? you say. Give up the anchor and strew four blots in the Jeremy's inner board. That's right! Take a look at the whole position, not just a piece of it. This figures to be a long positional struggle, where outfield control has priority. Advanced anchors are vital, and the 22 point simply isn't avanced enough. My play makes Kit a big favorite to get a more advanced anchor, and the risk is relatively minimal since Jeremy has no board and few builders with which to attack. It is well worth it. Take my word for it -- I'm good at this type of position.

    B/23, 22/21      -.187
    B/23, 7/6        -.260
    B/22             -.262
    B/23, 24/23      -.279

Position 16: White to play 53.

Kit: Good play. Jeremy can't afford to make the five point, since this would leave a double shot at the blot on his eight point. The builder he places on the eight point is very handy, and bringing the back man up to the 20 point gives him some breathing room to handle awkward numbers.

Jeremy: Making the five point is not worth three blots in the outfield. No other play is close.

TD: Best. Jeremy found a good positional play.

    23/20, 13/8      +.200
    13/8, 11/8       +.181
    23/15            +.177

Position 17: Red to play 54.

Jeremy: Obviously better than making the two point or startng the four point, but what about anchoring on my bar? Hitting sends me back and slows my development but it does nothing long term. I'm not going to be primed or blitzed and the checker will just re-circulate. Meanwhile, I've got three points of a possible six-prime waiting to fall into place. I think Kit should give himself an even game by making my bar point.

TD: Sorry Jeremy, but you are a bit confused on this one. Hitting and ripping away the builder, gaining in the all-important race, and springing one back man is much better. Kit obviously knew this, since he didn't even bother to comment on the play. This is a battle of outfields; the hit puts one of Kit's checkers there and removes one of yours. 23/14* -.028 23/18, 22/18 -.118 22/13 -.305

Position 18: White to play 54 from the bar.

Kit: I don't care for this play. Jeremy is basically throwing his valuable spare on the eight point to the wolves. He leaves a double shot, and if he is hit his position will be very awkward to play with his outer board completely stripped and four men on the 20 point. Even if he is missed it may not be very convenient to cover the blot. I think he should play B/16. This also leaves a double shot, but the cost of being hit here is much less severe. He would keep a well-balanced position and just enter and try again.

Jeremy: I like this play. B/16 leaves the same double shot but doesn't start an important point. B/20, 10/6 breaks an important outfield point and stacks my six point all in the name of safety when I have the best anchor. B/20, 6/2* is still the wrong idea, attacking behind Kit's anchor and starting a much less valuable point.

TD: I hate to say it, Jeremy, but your play stinks. Kit has the right idea here -- just shove the back men into the outfield and leave the guys up front alone since they are already where they belong.

    B/16           +.031
    B/21, 20/15    +.008
    B/20, 6/2*     -.014
    B/20, 8/4      -.098

Position 19: Red to play 63.

Jeremy: I don't see anything better.

TD: Don't worry -- this time there isn't anything better.

    23/14             +.027
    22/13             -.000
    13/4              -.087

Position 20: White to play 31.

Kit: This is typical of what might have been expected. I missed the shot, but Jeremy still has problems. He doesn't have much else he can do, but now he has given up the important blocking eight point as well as leaving me a shot.

Jeremy: The five point would be nice, but I don't want to leave two direct shots.

TD: Close, but making the five point is, in fact, a bit better. The position obviously calls for a bold play, since Jeremy already has four men back and an advanced anchor. Making the five point has three things going for it. 1) The five point is better than the four point. 2) Making the five point unstacks the six point. 3) After making the five point, the checkers on the ten point are still in play. The four point and the ten point do not work well together, since two points six away do not part of the same prime make.

    8/5, 6/5       -.143
    8/4            -.154
    20/16          -.164

Position 21: Red to play 62.

Kit: Running away with 22/14 is certainly a serious candidate. I am ahead in the race and Jeremy's position is too disjointed to carry out an attack, so that might not be a bad idea. I decided that I could afford to hold the anchor for a while and try to build my board, although things could get sticky and I will soon have to give up one of my outfield points. I would make the same play again, but 22/14 isn't bad.

Jeremy: Once again, Kit sees a different position than I do. His play looks awful. He gives himself two stripped points in the outfield, stacks his bar point, and strips his six point. The only plus is that he slots his four point. Isn't there anything better? What about 22/14? Look closely and you see that Kit is actually 18 pips ahead after he plays. He should be trying to disengage. He would leave one blot open to attack -- but it's only two builders and it's only a two point board. If he can escape the rear checker he would be one or two rolls away from an efficient double.

TD: Jeremy has it right. 22/14 is by far the best play. Kit simply failed to follow the theme of the position, which is to get the men out and around while Jeremy has his four checkers stuck on Kit's five point.

    22/14           +.136
    22/20, 13/7     +.014
    22/20, 22/16    +.006
    13/7, 6/4       +.000

Position 22: White to play 61.

Kit: Clear. This balances out his position -- now he may be able to make some improvements. The safe 8/1 is sick, and 13/7, 8/7 leaves me a double shot as well as giving up the crucial mid point. Outfield control is very important this game.

Jeremy: Making my bar point would be nice, but it leaves two direct shots and gives up my midpoint, isolating my four back checkers. My play is safer and much more flexible.

TD: Correct. Getting that fourth checker off the 20 point quickly is a MUST.

    20/13           -.036
    20/14, 8/7      -.089
    20/14, 6/5      -.091

Position 23: Red to play 22.

Kit: Making the 11 point is very important when your opponent is camped on your five point. It restrains him from clearing off the anchor safely for the rest of the game. Also, the advance to Jeremy's five point is quite important.

Jeremy: A big improvement, but Kit still has three isolated, stripped points to deal with.

TD: Kit's natural play is clearly best.

    22/20(2), 13/11(2)      +.103
    22/18(2)                +.053
    22/14                   -.005

Position 24: White to play 62.

Kit: Jeremy's play is ok, but I have a slight preference for 8/2, 6/4. I think that when one's opponent has an advanced anchor, the farther back your blocking point is the better. This blocks one of his big doubles, and makes it harder for him to clear the anchor successfully. In this position I believe that the ten point is a more valuable point to hold than the eight point.

Jeremy: The alternative is 8/2, 6/4, which looks better for creating inside points but leaves the ten point hanging a long way from safety. Once again I think I chose the flexible play.

TD: Kit outthought himself in his analysis. Flexibility is the key, as Jeremy notes. Also, remember that the ten and four points do not go well together. Jeremy's play is best.

    10/8, 10/4      -.112
    13/7, 7/4       -.156
    8/2, 6/4        -.169

Position 25: Red to play 32.

Kit: Not great, but it does start another point I will eventually need. I certainly won't give up any of my outfield points at this stage.

Jeremy: The alterntives are 4/1, 3/1 and 7/4, 3/1. Making the ace point is nowhere near as bad as most peoople think in this kind of position -- a point Kit makes repeatedly in Matchqiz. Neither of us are going to be priming the other, so all inner board points are pretty much equal. It also has the benefit of saving some sixes which might be important considering how stripped Kit's position is. This last consideration makes it my play, although either of the others could be right.

TD: I don't think much of Jeremy's concept. Getting the junk off the bar point is much better. Saving sixes is not important here, particularly since the saved sixes will be going to the already made ace point after Jeremy's play. I like 7/4, 3/1, although Kit's play is just about as good. Also, don't overlook making the strongest offense and getting off the anchor now while it is relatively safe to do so with 20/18, 7/4. That play is thematically consistent with the position, and is just as good as the others.

    7/4, 3/1      +.052
    20/18, 7/4    +.052
    7/2           +.048

Position 26: White to play 63.

Kit: Good play. My board is such a mess that I might not be able to afford to hit the shot even if I can. Jeremy is putting his checkers where they belong. The safe 13/4 will lead to awkward problems in the future, while after the actual play the next roll or two figures to play smoothly.

Jeremy: I have nothing to fear from Kit's board (two blots and the best anchor), so I again choose the most flexible play. I'm not leaving blots just for style's sake -- 13/4 would produce many fewer comfortable rolls next turn.

TD: A fine play. I couldn't argue the case any better.

    13/7, 6/3       -.093
    20/17, 13/7     -.131
    13/4            -.134

Position 27: Red to play 31.

Kit: I believe this shift is better than 7/4, 2/1, even though the three point is better than the two point. The key is the blot which would be left on the ace point. It would be difficult to cover, and if covered the ace point is the least valuable point of all. However if it is left uncovered it might be hit at exactly the wrong time. After the actual switching play if I can fill in the three point I will have done the best I can with my inner board.

Jeremy: Again, I would make the ace point with 4/1, 2/1: no blots and saves a six.

TD: 7/4, 2/1 looks best to me, since at least the made points are the ones we want. However, Kit's play is not bad. Once again, I don't like Jeremy's concept of making the ace point to save a six

    7/4, 2/1      +.079
    7/4, 3/2      +.057
    4/1, 2/1      +.029

Position 28: White to play 44.

Kit: A great roll for Jeremy. He is quite happy to take this opportunity to get off the anchor safely. Now the harassment value of the men on my 11 point goes down considerably.

Jeremy: The first thing to look at in a position like this is the race. If I'm winning it I want to disengage; if I'm losing it I want to play for contact. That's a general principle throughout all of backgammon and has tremendous impact in holding games like these when someone rolls doubles. Robertie has written in Inside Backgammon that a common characteristic of the beginning player is a general desire to break contact, regardless of the race. Don't make that mistake. When one player wants to break contact the other generally wants to maintain it, and you won't know which player you are until you look. It this case the race is very close -- I lead 126 to 131 after the roll, and since the average roll is a little more than eight pips this race is nearly dead even. So that criterion won't help me. The next thing to look at is who is more awkward. If Kit is more likely to be leaving blots than I am I want to stick around; if he is more flexible than I am I want to leave. In this case if I play the "contact" play of 20/8, 7/3, Kit will have a little bit the worst of the timing. His bar point will go while I have a spare on my eight point, so he may be facing the ugly rolls sooner (note that ths is a direct consequence of his failure to conserve sixes on his last two plays). If I play the semi-disengaging play of 20/16(3), 7/3 the timing looks to favor Kit slightly because he'll be able to break his 11 point past me, while I'll have only one spare outfield checker to play with. So this indicates staying back. Note that 13/9(2), 7/3, 6/2 gives me the worst of both worlds in that my back checkers will be isolated and Kit's 14 point will be free to move. A final consideration in positions where none of the above are conclusive is that you should tend to keep contact against weaker players because it's easier for them to botch plays in complex holding positions than it is in simple racing positions. This was not on my mind when playing Kit "ranked ninth in the world" Woolsey. It looks like I should have played 20/8, 7/3.

TD: Sorry to waste that thorough analysis, Jeremy, but your actual play is better. The key is getting off of Kit's five point where you are pinned down by his men on his 11 point. You need some breathing room, and moving off the anchor is the way to get it.

    20/16(3), 7/3         +.132
    20/8, 7/3             +.102
    20/12, 7/3, 6/2       -.026

Position 29: Red to play 65.

Kit: Since the 11 point no longer restrains anything, there is no reason to hold it any longer. 7/2, 7/1 is awful for building my board, and would just lead to more problems next turn. My other outfield point will do the job of keeping an eye on Jeremy's back men while I get to work building my board.

Jeremy: As advertised, Kit breaks the 11 point.

TD: Kit's play is clearly best. Everything else is much too awkward or dangerous.

    11/6, 11/5      -.123
    14/3            -.181
    7/2, 7/1        -.255

Position 30: White to play 66.

Kit: Jeremy volunteers a shot now rather than playing the safe 16/10(2), 16/4. He reasons that he will be in great shape if he gets away with it, possibly having a game-winning double. If he is hit my board is a mess, so he might have some juicy return shots. And if everything goes badly he still has a strong blockade against my back men. Sounds reasonable, but I don't buy it. I have a lot of hit and cover numbers, and then he could be in trouble. The blockade against my back men won't be all that effective if I can hit and make a prime or close him out. After the safe play he will have some problems, but his position would still be pretty flexible and he might be able to clear everything without leaving a shot. I pretty strongly believe he should have played 16/10(2), 16/4.

Jeremy: This puts me in the lead, so I try to run for it. Playing "safe" with either 13/7(2), 8/2(2) or 16/10(2), 16/4 would be a big mistake. Remember the criteria for paying now vs. paying later. Is his board improving? Yes. It's swiss cheese now but may be five points tomorrow. Will I leave more and worse shots if I pay later? Yes. I'll have one stranded point or three stripped points far from home in the outfield. Will I be home free if missed? Yes. I pay now.

TD: Sorry, Jeremy, but you are way off base on this one. Getting away with it is far from gin, and getting hit could be very bad. Remember, when in doubt, pay later. Kit is quite correct here.

    16/10(2), 16/4         +.402
    16/10(2), 13/7(2)      +.295
    16/4, 13/7(2)          +.293

Position 31: Red to play 32.

Kit: No choice. I can't just punt and not hit, since I am too far behind in the race. My board is as big as his, and if I get away with it I will be in great shape.

Jeremy: Well, what about 7/5, 6/3? Kit would have a perfect board but would be an underdog to ever get another shot, much less hit it. Hitting now looks right, but I would be curious to see a rollout.

TD: Actually very close for such widely differing plays. I like hitting, but simply locking up the board and waiting is not far behind.

    14/9*         -.375
    7/5, 6/3      -.383
    7/5, 7/4      -.448

Position 32 before roll: White's cube action?

Kit: This is a gamble. Jeremy will be in great shape if he hits one of my blots, although I still figure to have play since I have an advanced anchor and he still has to bring the back men around. On the other hand if he flunks the game could go my way quickly. The position is very volatile and he could certainly lose his market quite easily, so the double is reasonable. The real question in my mind is whether or not he is all that much of a favorite. I don't think that he is. If he fails to hit my builders are well enough distributed to cover at least one of the points, and then I may be instant favorite. I would have been inclined to hold off.

Jeremy: Don't forget that cube? Doubling here may look scary, but is in fact mandatory. My 24 hitting numbers are very, very strong and even my nine dancing numbers leave Kit with a lot of work to do. My only truly bad number is 6-1. This is a must double.

TD: Right on, Jeremy! Equity of .375, and volatility in the sky! A great double, one which would be missed by a lot of players, although I'm surprised Kit was one of them since rumor has it that he is a very aggressive doubler.

Kit: The take is trivial. I have plenty of winning chances if he doesn't hit, and even if he does I am far from dead. Not even close to a pass.

Jeremy: This looks like a take. Kit has an anchor which will provide real winning chances even after being hit, and provide good insurance against being gammoned which is very important. It just looks like Kit has a lot of play left.

TD: Very clear take with equity of -.375. It's nice for a change to see a couple of humans who aren't afraid to throw the cube around and catch it when it comes their way.

Position 32: White to play 21 from the bar.

Position 33: Red to play 64 from the bar.

Position 34: White to play 62.

Jeremy: Making the two point is nice, but leaves a second blot open to many return shots. Hitting the second checker makes everything safer. I hit on the 20 point because I don't want Kit to make it for a long time.

TD: Didn't even consider making the two point -- that's not on the list of things to do. Jeremy's play is clear.

    22/20*/14       +.990
    22/16*, 10/8    +.960
    22/16*/14       +.957

Position 35: Red to play 21 from the bar.

Position 36: White to play 61.

Kit: Things certainly have gone Jeremy's way. The question now is should he push his luck with the attack and play 8/2*/1* or should he go quietly as he did. I'm far from sure on this one, but I think I would be inclined to go for the attack. It could easily result in a gammon for him if he gets away with it. After his actual play if I roll an ace my defensive structure will be quite strong anyway. In addition, even if he gets hit my board isn't all that strong so he could still enter and escape in time. I think it is worth the risk.

TD: Oink, oink! I love pigging it for gammons. Kit's suggested attacking play is correct, and by a lot! There are risks, of course, but the potential gains easily outweigh them. Jeremy just chickened out, and then never even considered the play in his analysis. Wake up, Jeremy. Open your mind to new things.

    8/2*/1*         +.872
    14/7            +.738
    14/8, 4/3       +.717

Position 37: Red to play 43.

Kit: This is a pretty dangerous play. My idea is to keep open the chances of making a second anchor in Jeremy's board, which will improve my winning chances. On the downside I am taking a big gammon risk. Jeremy has four builders aimed at the two point and three aimed at the ace point, which means he has plenty of pointing numbers. If he makes one of these points and I don't enter immediately he is likely to be able to continue the attack and gammon me. In retrospect I think I should have played the conservative 24/20, 23/20. This obviously decreases my chances of hitting a shot, but I will still have some possibilites from the defensive five point. More important, after this play I am almost certain to get off the gammon. It looks as though discretion is the better part of valor on this one.

Jeremy: This is a tough play. Kit's blot on my two point is as much a target for my four builders as anything else, so there is much to be said for moving it up. Kit doesn't want to be on the bar when I'm clearing my ten point. If he doesn't move a back checker, there is still the choice between his play and 14/11, 9/5 which starts the more valuable point. Of those two I prefer Kit's play, making the three point, but it's close. I actually prefer 23/20, 9/5 but am not sure about it at all.

TD: Jeremy hit the jackpot. A little try to win the game by getting a shot without going crazy. Kit's actual play is too risky, and his suggested play too cowardly.

    23/20, 9/5       -.863
    23/20, 14/10     -.895
    24/20, 23/20     -.899
    7/3, 6/3         -.915

Position 38: White to play 54.

Position 39: Red to play 52 from the bar.

Kit: Even though I might be getting some kind of shot shortly, it is definitely correct to slot the five point. I must have this point if I am going to contain any checker I hit, and the fastest way to make a point is to slot it.

TD: Personally I prefer locking up the bar point, particlarly since Kit is short on builders with which to make the five point. However we are getting into that awful technical area where my experience and knowledge is somewhat limited.

    B/20, 9/7      -.866
    B/20, 7/5      -.887
    B/20, 14/12    -.914

Position 40: White to play 32.

Position 41: Red to play 52.

Kit: 14/7 brings another builder into position for the five point, but I would be embarrassed if I rolled 3-3 next turn. Springing one of the back men looks better. 20/15, 14/12 is equally good.

Jeremy: Kit doesn't play the more natural 14/7, bringing in another builder for the five point, because he is afraid of a subsequent 3-3.

TD: My algorithm says 14/12, 9/4 and doesn't even have Kit's move in the top three, but that play really does look pretty silly. I think we'll have to forget anything I came up with on this position. Back to the middle game, anyone?

    14/12, 9/4      -.913
    20/15, 9/7      -.932
    14/7            -.940

Position 42: White to play 63.

Jeremy: There are good arguments for 8/2, 7/4. Nothing forces a shot next roll; I prepare to clear my outside point. However, I still think making the ace point is better. I'll want to make it sometime, it slows Kit from filling in his five point, and with three checkers outside and one up on a five point board there is the looming spectre of the gammon.

TD: There are no arguments for not making the ace point. It is head and shoulders above anything else.

    7/1*, 4/1      +1.199
    8/2, 4/1*      + .797
    8/2, 7/4       + .794

Position 43: Red to play 55 from the bar.

Jeremy: Oh well.

Position 44: White to play 63.

Jeremy: Much better than 7/4, 7/1 which leaves a gap and an odd checker on my outside point. Much, much better than volunteering a shot against Kit's perfect board. Busting my inner board is irrelevant -- I have no intention of hitting any more of Kit's men.

TD: I'm embarrassed to say that I have 7/4, 7/1 as much better. A point cleared, I learned. I never was very good at bearing in against those damn anchors anyway, so don't put to much stock in what I say here.

    7/4, 7/1      +.777
    8/2, 4/1      +.680
    8/2, 7/4      +.372

Position 45: Red to play 44.

Kit: I don't think it is correct to slot the ace point here. I might be getting a shot in a couple of rolls, and I may not be able to cover the blot in time. Unlike the five point, which was a must, it is not vital for me to make my ace point in order to win the game.

Jeremy: Kit sees that his best winning chances involve hitting a shot the roll after next, so he avoids slotting his ace point for fear that he won't cover it with the one builder he would have for the job. I think I would slot, but don't have a strong feeling about it.

TD: I'm a slotter also, but it's close.

    13/1, 9/5          -.729
    14/6, 9/1          -.740
    14/6, 9/5, 6/2     -.740
    14/6, 13/5         -.741

Position 46: White to play 42.

Position 47: Red to play 53.

Kit: Now the slot seems correct, with two builders in position and the alternatives possibly leading to uncomfortable followups.

Jeremy: Now he slots. Now I wouldn't, considering that I have four blot numbers coming up (6-6, 5-5, and 6-2).

TD: I'm with Jeremy again, but I agree that it is pretty close.

    9/4, 6/3      -.768
    9/1           -.779
    9/4, 5/2      -.786

Position 48: White to play 33.

Kit: This is a classic double jeopardy situation. After Jeremy's play he leaves a shot only on 6-5 next turn, while if he plays 7/4(2), 6/0 he would leave a shot on 6-1 or 5-1. The problem with his play is that unless he rolls doubles next turn he will have to come down to two men on the six point in order to clear it, in which case he will be subjecting himself to the 6-1 or 5-1 problem next roll as well as facing the 6-5 danger now. Consequently, Jeremy's play is more likely to leave a shot in the long run, even though it is safest for now. There may be other circumstances which favor his play. He takes two men off, but that really isn't important. If I hit a shot I will be able to claim with the cube regardless of the extra man off, and he is extremely unlikely to win a gammon, so the extra man off doesn't figure to matter. If I were going to be forced to break my board or leave with my last back man then concentrating on only the next roll could be right, but that is not the case here. I think he should have played 7/4(2), 6/0.

Jeremy: I think this is wrong and I should play 7/4(2), 6/0. It's a classic position called double jeopardy: My original play leaves a shot only on 6-5 while the play I advocate now leaves shots on both 6-1 and 5-1. The catch is that my original play risks the 6-5 now and most likely risks the 6-1 and 5-1 later anyway, whereas stripping the six point now gets tha matter over with and is comparatively safer. The exception to this comes when Kit may be forced off the five point on the next roll. Then I should care about safety for the next roll only, because those future shots may come after Kit has left. In the actual position I got confused and thought that Kit would be forced to leave with a six -- not realizing that he would leave one man behind.

TD: I also come down to two men on the six point. Admittedly I don't understand all this high-class talk about double jeopardy, counting shots next roll, and all that stuff. Isn't it right to just make the thematic play?

    7/4(2), 6/0            +.926
    7/4(2), 6/3, 4/1       +.909
    7/4(2), 3/0(2)         +.889

Position 49: Red to play 62.

Position 50: White to play 65.

Jeremy: Justice?

Position 51: Red to play 54.

Kit: There is no reason for staying, since that would just give Jeremy the option of putting me on the bar if he wanted to. He was almost punished for his double jeopardy play, but I failed to hit the shot.

Jeremy: No justice.

TD: My algorithm says to stay. I just can't seem to work out the logic correctly here. Don't believe what I say in end-games.

    12/3          -.970
    12/8, 6/1     -.970
    12/7, 5/1     -.971

Position 52: White to play 51.

Position 53: Red to play 22.

Position 54: White to play 63.

Position 55: Red to play 53.

Position 56: White to play 62.

Position 57: Red to play 61.

Position 58: White to play 63.

Position 59: Red to play 54.

Match to 9:   Kit Woolsey - 2,  Jeremy Bagai - 4

Go on to next game: Game 4

Return to: Backgammon Galore : Woolsey-Bagai Match