Strategy--Checker play

Forum Archive : Strategy--Checker play

Kamikaze plays

From:   christian munk-christensen
Date:   12 November 2010
Subject:   Kamikaze plays ...
Forum: Forums

Kamikaze plays look flamboyant but are usually wrong.  However, it is
possible to find rare position when it is actually correct to make a
kamikaze play.

When do you think it is correct to make a kamikaze play?  Please list the
criteria (score considerations, features to the position, etc.) that will
make you play kamikaze style. Feel free to back up your replies with an
example of a position where the kamikaze play is best.

Here is an example of a position where the kamikaze play might be correct.
What do you think?

      24  23  22  21  20  19      18  17  16  15  14  13
     |         X   X   O   O |   | O   O   O       O   X |
     |         X   X   O   O |   | O   O   O           X |
     |                     O |   |                       |
     |                       |   |                       |
     |                       |   |                       |
     |                       |   |                       |   X rolls 3-2.
     |                       |   |                       |
     |                     X |   |                       |
     |                     X |   |                       |
     |             X   X   X |   |                     O |
     |     O       X   X   X |   |         X           O |
       1   2   3   4   5   6       7   8   9  10  11  12

Casper van der Tak  writes:

I'd play 9/7, 6/3, building a kind of 5 prime, instead of the all-out
kamikaze play of 6/3, 4/2*.  9/7, 6/3 retains more ways to win, going
forward, by priming, holding game, backgame, whereas the kamikaze play only
leaves the backgame possibility open.  But it is not clear cut.

To formulate some criteria that make a kamikaze play more likely to be

* The score should make gammon losses and to a lesser extent backgammon
  losses meaningless or close to meaningless. Obvious and satisfied here,
  but this may be the most important point.

* You need to be committed to a backgame or a deep anchor game. Only so-so
  here, I see other winning possibilities as well.

* Timing should be suspect. That is very clearly the case here (even so
  much so that I think there are other winning chances you'd like to
  retain); in any case, you don't make kamikaze plays if you already have
  good timing.

* You need to have more checkers recycled to get a stronger defensive
  position. That may be the case here, the 34 backgame is quite far
  advanced, in some variations you'd like to establish a deeper point and
  then give up the 21 anchor. Sometimes you should make the kamikaze play
  even to have the chance to make the second anchor.

* Opponent should be forced to hit. That is OK here; you put opponent on
  the bar (with little choice how to come in), and also behind a blot-
  prime. In other cases, a kamikaze play may not involve putting an
  opponent on the bar but only putting him/her behind a blot-prime; in such
  a case, what is needed is lack of flexibility up front so that the back
  checkers must move and hopefully hit in the process.

* Placement of the blots. You don't like to leave the blots in out of place
  locations, harming long term prospects. Here the places where you'd leave
  the blots are very good after the kamikaze play; even if only the blot on
  the 4 is hit, your front position is not too compromised. (This is a
  lengthy way of saying that you should not leave a blot on the ace when
  making a kamikaze play).

* Impact on timing. For a kamikaze play to be right, it needs to gain
  timing. So ideally you make a kamikaze play if your opponents priming
  position is not very strong (so that you can more easily hop over it
  after your blots are hit) and difficult to extend (here you advanced
  anchor helps protecting against that, but the prime is obviously already
  strong). It also helps if you opponent has more home points made, because
  that increases the chances that you'd lose time dancing.

* Tactical considerations. Sometimes a kamikaze play runs the danger that
  your opp can hit all and clear all trouble spots before you come from the
  bar and rebuild your offensive. In that case, you may have all the timing
  in the world, but no blots to hit, and no offense to hold any hit blots.

* Your opponent. A kamikaze play often results in difficult choices for
  your opponent, so may be more correct against a weaker opponent.
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Strategy--Checker play

Avoiding major oversights  (Chuck Bower+, Mar 2008) 
Bearing off with contact  (Walter Trice, Dec 1999) 
Bearing off with contact  (Daniel Murphy, Mar 1998)  [Long message]
Blitzing strategy  (Michael J. Zehr, July 1997) 
Blitzing strategy  (Fredrik Dahl, July 1997) 
Blitzing technique  (Albert Silver+, July 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Breaking anchor  (abc, Mar 2004) 
Breaking contact  (Alan Webb+, Oct 1999) 
Coming under the gun  (Kit Woolsey, July 1996) 
Common errors  (David Levy, Oct 2009) 
Containment positions  (Brian Sheppard, July 1998) 
Coup Classique  (Paul Epstein+, Dec 2006) 
Cube ownership considerations  (Kit Woolsey, Apr 1996) 
Cube-influenced checker play  (Rew Francis+, Apr 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Defending against a blitz  (Michael J. Zehr, Jan 1995) 
Estimating in volatile situations  (Kit Woolsey, Mar 1997) 
Gammonish positions  (Michael Manolios, Nov 1999) 
Golden point  (Henry Logan+, Nov 2002) 
Hitting loose in your home board  (Douglas Zare, June 2000) 
Holding games  (Casual_Observer, Jan 1999)  [Long message]
How to trap an anchor  (Timothy Chow+, Apr 2010) 
Jacoby rule consideration  (Ron Karr, Nov 1996) 
Kamikaze plays  (christian munk-christensen+, Nov 2010) 
Kleinman Count for bringing checkers home  (Øystein Johansen, Feb 2001) 
Late loose hits  (Douglas Zare+, Aug 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
Mutual holding game  (Ron Karr, Dec 1996) 
Pay now or pay later?  (Stuart Katz, MD, Nov 1997) 
Pay now or pay later?  (Stephen Turner, Mar 1997) 
Pay now or play later?  (Hank Youngerman+, Sept 1998) 
Play versus a novice  (Courtney S Foster+, Apr 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Playing doublets  (Grunty, Jan 2008) 
Playing when opponent has one man back  (Kit Woolsey, May 1995) 
Prime versus prime  (Albert Silver+, Aug 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Prime versus prime  (Michael J. Zehr, Mar 1996) 
Saving gammon  (Bill Riles, Oct 2009) 
Saving gammon  (Ron Karr, Dec 1997) 
Splitting your back men  (KL Gerber+, Nov 2002) 
Splitting your back men  (David Montgomery, June 1995) 
Trap play problem  (Brian Sheppard, Feb 1997) 
When in doubt  (Stick+, Apr 2011) 
When to run the last checker  (Stick Rice+, Jan 2009) 
When you can't decide  (John O'Hagan, Oct 2009) 

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