From: Backgammon Galore : Woolsey-Bagai Match

Kit Woolsey vs. Jeremy Bagai
Game 5

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

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

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

Position 1: Red to play 62.

TD: Still my favorite, but running is pretty close.

    24/18, 13/11      +.005
    24/16             -.007
    13/5              -.029

Position 2: White to play 62.

Kit: 24/22, 13/7* is also reasonable. The safe split of the back men can be very valuable, but the builder on the 11 point is also important. The two plays are probably about equal -- I slightly prefer the split.

Jeremy: 24/22 might be just as good for the two, but most players seem to play 13/11 here.

TD: I'm with Kit on this one, although admittedly it is close.

    24/22, 13/7*      -.022
    13/11, 13/7*      -.031
    13/7*/5           -.064

Position 3: Red to play 61 from the bar.

Position 4: White to play 66 from the bar.

Position 5 before roll: Red's cube action?

Kit: This is very close to a double. The problem is that I don't have any inner board points, so even if I hit the other blot Jeremy will probably be able to enter and establish a decent defense. I need one more improvement.

TD: Equity of +.348, and not all that volatile. I also agree with holding off.

Position 5: Red to play 43.

Kit: My play gives me the best distribution with which to continue the attack. The downside is that I am leaving a lot of blots dangling, and I may not be able to cover them all in time. The play is reasonable, but I now prefer the more solid 18/14*/11, which locks up everything and leaves me free to attack at will.

Jeremy: It is a fundamental principle of the game to maximize builders when your opponent has two in the air. 18/14*/11 is much weaker.

TD: When are you humans going to learn to lock up your assets instead of strewing blots all over the board? The problem with Kit's play is that most of the time Jeremy will get both men in, and then Kit will be scrambling. Kit is quite right in his analysis of why 18/14*/11 is superior.

    18/14*/11         +.397
    18/14*, 13/10     +.362
    24/21, 18/14*     +.328

Position 6: White to play 43 from the bar.

Position 7 before roll: Red's cube action?

Kit: If Jeremy had only gotten one checker in I would have had a sound double. As it is, it looks like his defense is too good. I still wait.

TD: Equity is .342, and volatility still isn't all that huge. Again correct to wait.

Position 7: Red to play 52.

Kit: This is pretty wild; probably too much so. It will be great if it works, but if Jeremy hits back my position will be very strung out. I now prefer the safer and saner 14/9, 11/9, which at least ensures that I will come of of the fight with some point of value.

Jeremy: This looks better than making the nine piont which would give me my full roll to consolidate. But I'm not sure at all.

TD: Kit is doing a lot better in the post-mortem this game than he did in the actual match. Making the nine point is clearly superior, for the reasons that he gave.

    14/9, 11/9      +.246
    8/3*, 6/4*      +.207
    14/9, 13/11     +.150

Position 8: White to play 52 from the bar.

Position 9 before roll: Red's cube action?

Kit: Once again, not worth a cube turn. I just have too much cleaning up to do.

TD: Equity has dropped to .283. Now a double is a long way away.

Position 9: Red to play 63.

Kit: Looks best. Even though I fail to put Jeremy on the bar I grab two valuable inner board points and cut down on my blots. Now my earlier play when I left the checker on the 14 point may come back to haunt me.

TD: It was best, although getting the outfield blots out of hock with 14/11, 10/4 wasn't far off.

    10/4, 6/3       +.355
    14/11, 10/4     +.335
    11/8, 10/4      +.255

Position 10: White to play 22.

Jeremy: The alternatives are 20/18, 13/11*, 6/4(2) and hitting twice with 20/14*, 13/11*. I like 11/9 better than 20/18 because I'd rather anchor on the 20 point than on the bar point, and I'll get more return shots if Kit hits loose there. On the other hand I'm giving him more fly shots in the outfield and when he does hit loose inside he is starting a more valuable point. Very close. But the real question is should I hit twice. This gives me more time to do something with my back checkers (although it somewhat isolates them by removing the slot of the advanced anchor), but it doesn't make the four point whith is very big. I like my play, but either of the others could be correct.

TD: Jeremy is 100% accurate in his fine analysis. His actual play is best, and the other two are close. I can hardly add to that.

    13/11*/9, 6/4(2)        -.273
    20/18, 13/11, 6/4(2)    -.285
    20/14*, 13/11*          -.290

Position 11: Red to play 61 from the bar.

Jeremy: Clear.

Position 12: White to play 52 from the bar.

Kit: I guess this is best. Jeremy doesn't have an attractive two, so he brings the checker into the bar point. He won't like it if this checker is hit, but if it isn't he will have a good chance to improve.

Jeremy: B/20*/18 looks a bit better to me now because, if hit, I'd rather my return shots come from my rear checkers than from my stripped midpoint. Of course entering on the 23 point trying for a back game is hopeless.

TD: Right you are in your analysis, Jeremy. Stepping into the way of fleeing enemy checkers is not the way to contain them. This is a common error made by a lot of humans.

    B/20*/18          -.140
    B/20*, 8/6        -.192
    B/20*, 6/4        -.194
    B/20*, 9/7        -.206

Position 13: Red to play 63 from the bar.

Position 14: White to play 51 from the bar.

Position 15: Red to play 51 from the bar.

Kit: I refuse to be hemmed in. If I play B/24, 13/8 and Jeremy makes his bar point my men on the 24 point would be in trouble. I am exposing myself to an attack, but since Jeremy has few builders in position and my inner board is stronger than his the danger is not too great.

Jeremy: I think this is better than B/24, 13/8. I have five men back so Kit has little to fear from my attack. He doesn't want to get stuck on the ace point.

TD: Correct. The thought of entering on the 24 point makes me ill.

    B/20, 24/23      +.127
    B/24, 13/8       -.017
    B/20, 3/2*       -.083

Position 16: White to play 52.

Kit: Jeremy is unwilling to give up his eight point, so he plays somewhat cautiously. Reasonable, but now almost anything I roll hits something. I think he should have shot out 8/3*, 7/5*. This could work great if I miss, and if I hit one of the checkers he may have a chance to establish the third anchor in my board which will permit him to play very loosely in the future knowing that he will always have a solid back game in reserve.

TD: Time for a sanity check, Kit. Take a look at who has the stronger inner board and ask where the builders would come from to continue your attack or how you would plan to get the eight point back. You have to learn to walk before you can run. Jeremy's play is clearly best.

    23/18, 7/5*      -.153
    13/8, 7/5*       -.223
    8/3*, 7/5*       -.230

Position 17: Red to play 44 from the bar.

Position 18: White to play 42.

Kit: I prefer 18/14, 5/3*. This keeps the second anchor in case of disaster, and brings one checker closer to the battle area. Moving off the 24 point isn't too vital now, since he is in no danger of being primed.

Jeremy: 13/9, 5/3* provides another builder but is very premature. My midpoint will be very important in getting those five checkers around the board. 18/14, 5/3* might be right, but I like getting a spare on the 20 point for flexibility.

TD: Pretty close, but Kit's play gets the nod. But how about the simple 24/18 play? Bet you hit-crazy humans never even thought of it. Yet it is certainly logical, locking up the second big advanced anchor and keeping open the possibility of making the five point. In fact, it is right up there in the rankings. Let's look at all the possibilities before jumping to conclusions.

    18/14, 5/3*      -.055
    24/18            -.056
    24/20, 5/3*      -.064

Position 19: Red to play 51 from the bar.

Position 20: White to play 52.

Kit: Not much choice. The alternative is 20/18, 8/3, but this would give me a double shot at the blot on his eight point and if I hit it he would be completely out of ammunition up front. Leaving the blot on my bar point isn't nearly as dangerous. Making my bar point isn't so important since he already owns my five point.

Jeremy: This looks better than anything else.

TD: I'm afraid you guys missed the boat on this one. 20/18, 8/3 is much better. At least Kit found the play, but then rejected it because of the double shot on the eight point. That was silly. With the double anchor Jeremy would be well in the game whatever happened. The actual play piles a stack of men on the six point and gives Kit a free shot to attack. Note that the various plays which go to the ace point are better than Jeremy's actual play.

    20/18, 8/3      -.174
    18/13, 3/1*     -.182
    6/1*, 3/1       -.218
    8/6, 8/3        -.249

Position 21: Red to play 54.

Kit: It looks more important to pump the checkers into the outfield rather than bring a man down with 24/20, 13/8. The checker on his bar point is in little danger, and I need all the flexibility I can get in the outfield here.

Jeremy: 24/20, 13/8 looks more natural but I think Kit found a nice play. The key is that I'll be very ruluctant to hit from my stripped midpoint, isolating my rear checkers. I probably wouldn't have found this play.

TD: After all the work I've been doing teaching the importance of getting checkers out from behind an enemy blockade and into the outfield in positional struggles, I would have been very disappointed if you got this one wrong. Actually, I'm surprised it came out as close as it did. Thanks for not failing me.

    24/20, 23/18      +.237
    24/20, 13/8       +.230
    24/20, 6/1*       +.229

Position 22: White to play 65.

TD: This is correct, but it is not as automatic as it might seem. Making Kit's bar point and getting the back man out of hock is very strong for Jeremy here.

    18/7*            -.194
    24/18, 20/15     -.220
    24/13            -.232

Position 23: Red to play 63 from the bar.

Position 24: White to play 21.

Jeremy: Leaving the bar point slotted in the hopes of making it looks like a mistake because there's nothing to cover it with.

TD: Correct. Leaving the blot there can only lose.

    7/4            -.149
    20/18, 7/6     -.173
    24/23, 6/4     -.188

Position 25: Red to play 41 from the bar.

Position 26: White to play 54.

Kit: I agree. 24/20, 6/1 dumps another checker behind my anchor and leaves an ugly stack of four checkers on my five point. If Jeremy is hit he should have plenty of time to enter and try again, and if the blot is missed the extra man in the outfield gives him some badly needed flexibility.

Jeremy: This feels better than 20/11, but I can't really say why. It does keep my spares together for return shots and point making.

TD: It is way better, Jeremy. The real key is liberating the back man so you will have some flexibility later on. That has overriding priority here.

    24/15           -.178
    24/20, 6/1      -.228
    20/11           -.252

Position 27: Red to play 41.

Position 28: White to play 61.

Position 29: Red to play 42.

TD: This is correct, but it is not as automatic as it might appear. Any time you are diving behind your opponent's anchor, it is well worth searching for alternatives.

    8/2              +.005
    20/14            -.013
    20/18, 8/4       -.023

Position 30: White to play 66.

Kit: This looks better than 20/8(2). The latter play would leave a stripped position with two outfield points to clear, so he would quickly have some problems. His actual play leaves only one outfield point to clear and four men on the 14 point to give him some maneuvering room.

Jeremy: The pip count is even before the roll so I'm definitely moving my back anchor to disengage. 20/8(2) keeps all my checkers communicating but leaves me with three stripped points. My play isolates the checkers on the 14 point a bit, but gives me two spares to play with. It looks right.

TD: I couldn't have said it better myself.

    20/14(2), 13/7(2)      +.386
    20/8(2)                +.371
    20/14, 20/2            +.254

Position 31: Red to play 42.

TD: Only barely correct. Moving the spare on the 20 point has a lot going for it. Remember that Kit is behind in the race, so he doesn't mind provoking contact.

    8/2           -.402
    20/14         -.405
    8/4, 8/6      -.418

Position 32 before roll: White's cube action?

Kit: Close. Jeremy has a useful lead in the race, but it is not overwhelming. I figure to have plenty of shot potential as he tries to clear his outfield point, and my board is decent. One problem I may have is finding a safe play in the next roll or two; I'll probably have to move the spare off his five point even if it means leaving a direct shot in order to avoid wrecking my board. My take is easy, and he can lose his market only by rolling doubles. I can't say for sure the double is wrong, but I would have held off.

Jeremy: I'm up 18 pips and on roll. Very strong double. If the distance of the 14 point bothers you remember that Kit still has his five point open and might not be able to make it soon. Clear double.

TD: Equity of .402, moderate volatility. Just barely worth a double, but it is there.

Kit: Easy take. Plenty of shot hitting and race potential, with little gammon danger. No question about this one.

Jeremy: I suppose so. The way most experts would analyze this is by comparing it to the more familiar reference position where the two outfield points are the 13 and eight points rather than the 14 and seven points. That position would be a close take, and this position looks slightly better for Kit. The open five point is a big problem, though.

TD: Not all that big a problem, Jeremy. The equity is only -.402, largely due to the racing potential. As Kit said, easy take. Once again, well done guys. I always hated 1-cubes anyway.

Position 32: White to play 55.

Position 33: Red to play 41.

TD: My algorithm gave me 8/4, 6/5 as the best play, but I'll admit that it is hard to see how that can be right. This sort of position just ain't my strong suit. I'd stick with the experts on this one if I were you.

    8/4, 6/5       -.734
    6/1            -.752
    13/9, 6/5      -.755

Position 34: White to play 51.

Kit: Pays off to 6-6, but otherwise follows the principles of clearing from the back and keeping buffers on the six point to handle future awkward rolls. I agree -- this is better than 6/1, 4/3.

Jeremy: Although it looks awkward, I think it's right. I want to clear the nine point so I need to strip it first. It only leaves a shot on 6-6.

TD: I must agree.

    9/3          +.728
    6/1, 4/3     +.690
    7/6, 7/2     +.682

Position 35: Red to play 22.

Kit: 13/5 is probably equally good.

TD: I still do strange things here. I get 9/5, 8/4 as best, which doesn't make much sense.

    9/5, 8/4           -.694
    13/11, 9/5, 8/6    -.707
    13/5               -.713

Position 36: White to play 51.

Jeremy: I can't see any reason not to put a checker on the two point for the race.

TD: I got 6/1, 3/2 as best. I won't even try to justify such apparent silliness.

    6/1, 3/2      +.712
    9/4, 3/2      +.695
    7/6, 7/2      +.689

Position 37: Red to play 62.

TD: Once again, I seem to have this thing about moving the spare to the four point. Doesn't make much sense, does it.

    20/14, 6/4      -.720
    11/5, 6/4       -.732
    20/12           -.744

Position 38: White to play 62.

Position 39: Red to play 52.

Kit: 12/5 is probably a bit better, since it brings a builder inside to the ideal place. It can't be a big deal.

TD: I have Kit's actual play much worse than 12/5, which is strange. Stranger still, I have running with 20/15, 6/4 (the famous shift to the four point) tied for first. Seems weird. How can running be right?

    12/5           -.807
    20/15, 6/4     -.807
    12/7, 6/4      -.809
    12/7, 11/9     -.833

Position 40: White to play 11.

TD: I have 7/6(3), 2/1 a bit better. Oh well, I never did understand this bearing off concept anyway.

    7/6(3), 2/1      +.826
    7/6(3), 3/2      +.818
    7/6(3), 4/3      +.817

Position 41: Red to play 61.

Kit: It is probably better to start the ace point now with 9/8, 7/1. I won't want to be leaving with one man next turn, so I should be prepared to make the full closed board. Again, not a big deal.

Jeremy: Why not start the ace point? I can't leave a shot next roll.

TD: I came up with 9/3, 7/6. Looks like I am worried about the gammon. Seems pretty paranoid, doesn't it.

    9/3, 7/6      -.863
    9/3, 6/5      -.864
    9/3, 2/1      -.867

Position 42: White to play 54.

Kit: This is a strange oversight. Obviously Jeremy should play 6/1, 4/0, which not only takes a checker off but keeps even on the six point. The actual play risks leaving a shot on 6-6 and 5-5 next turn. Quite possibly he didn't see the number of checkers he had on the six point. This kind of error is common on FIBS.

Jeremy: Blunder. Obviously 6/1, 4/0 is better because it doesn't leave shots on 6-6 and 5-5. I think I simply miscounted.

TD: Yep, Jeremy's move was pretty silly. My new special bearin algorithm kicks in here, and shows that to be the case.

Position 43: Red to play 51.

Kit: I must keep both men on the anchor as long as I can do so conveniently. I don't want Jeremy blowing me away with 1-1. I will not crunch my board in order to hold the anchor, since I need a strong board to contain a shot if I hit one. Similarly I will run with one man if the gammon starts to get close. Here there is little gammon danger, so it is proper to hold the fort one more roll.

TD: I get that running is a wee bit better. I guess I'm still worried about that freak gammon.

    20/15, 7/6      -.860
    7/1             -.863
    7/2, 3/2        -.863

Position 44: White to play 21.

Jeremy: I come to my senses and even out.

Position 45: Red to play 44.

Kit: It is clear to hang back with one man. The race is pretty hopeless, and I just could get a shot. I risk getting pointed on or picked and passed, but all things considered that may not be so bad for me -- I have better chances of getting a shot if I am on the bar. However I think 20/8, 5/1 is slightly better. My actual play is best for the race, but making the ace point and keeping one checker outside gives me the option of staying put if I roll a six next turn. Since hitting a shot appears to be my best chance, this looks like what I should have done.

Jeremy: Interesting. Why not 20/8, 5/1? Kit sees that he won't be getting shots next roll and coming to the four point is better for the race. Why not get four crossovers with 20/16(2)? Because staying on the 20 point keeps me from playing my aces to cover the hole. Looks right, but I'm sure the plays are close.

TD: I found Kit's actual play to be better, but once again I don't think these results can be trusted very much.

    20/4           -.801
    20/8, 5/1      -.826
    20/16, 20/8    -.826

Position 46: White to play 64.

Kit: Another double jeopardy situation. This time, however, it is clear to take two men off rather than play 6/2, 6/0. First of all I am unlikely to be able to hang around for two turns without crunching my board, so the next roll is key, and Jeremy's play leaves fewest shots next turn. Secondly the race is not entirely gin. I do have some racing chances, so taking a man off could be important. Both of these factors argue for Jeremy's play.

Jeremy: Back to double jeopardy. This time Kit will be leaving in the next two rolls, so I make the play that is safest immediately rather than cumulatively.

Position 47: Red to play 33.

Kit: Staying back for the unlikely shot and crunching my board seems pretty hopeless, since even if I hit the shot I may not win. My racing chances are better after this roll, so that appears to be the route to take.

Jeremy: The chances of hitting are 2/36 (I roll 6-5) times 1/3, or 1/54. He then has to win from there with his six point open. His racing chances look much better.

Position 48: White to play 64.

Position 49: Red to play 63.

Kit: Putting a third checker on the two point with 8/2, 3/0 didn't seem too productive. My play makes 5-5 play better next turn. Since I need some miracles anyway, why not play for them.

Position 50: White to play 32.

Position 51: Red to play 53.

Position 52: White to play 62.

Position 53: Red to play 54.

Position 54: White to play 63.

Position 55: Red to play 64.

Position 56: White to play 64.

Position 57: Red to play 32.

Position 58: White to play 52.

Match to 9:   Kit Woolsey - 4,  Jeremy Bagai - 6

Go on to next game: Game 6

Return to: Backgammon Galore : Woolsey-Bagai Match