Match Play

Forum Archive : Match Play

Holland rule

From:   Kit Woolsey
Date:   20 December 1994
Subject:   Re: Doubling after the Crawford Game

> A widely used tournament rule in the 80's was what I remember
> as the "Holland Rule" after a master Tim Holland I believe. The
> rule requires two complete moves to have been played before the
> cube can be turned after the Crawford game. This gives the
> player in the lead at least some chance to access his start
> before accepting or rejecting the cube. Without this rule you
> might as well divide whatever lead in games that he has fought
> to achieve in "HALF"!  Several times I have faced a cube
> turning after my first roll and before my opponent has rolled!
> FIBS permits these early cubes to my dismay! Let's get some
> discussion on implementing this change.

It is true that the Holland rule was popular in the 80's, but today I
don't think it is use at any major tournaments.  There are several
reasons why the rule has been discarded:

1) It creates a lot of confusion.  You can imagine the problems
tournament directors may have explaining the rule to contestants, or
settling disputes involving the rule.  Granted this wouldn't be so bad on
FIBS where the computer coldly settles all disputes correctly (although
without much compassion), but it still could lead to some confusion
particularly for newer players.

2) It is true that in a sense your lead is cut in half after the Crawford
game.  One solution which has been suggested is to not allow use of the
cube when a player is one point away from winning (or, in more general
terms, not allow a player to turn the cube to a higher level than his
opponent has points to go to win the match).  This leads to longer,
duller, matches when one side is way ahead.  On the other side one could
eliminate the Crawford rule entirely, but this cuts down on the advantage
to the leader and also involves some rather strange cube tactics.  The
Crawford rule is a very intelligent compromise to solve this problem, and
is universally accepted.

3) The ability to assess you position after a couple of moves really
isn't as important as it seems.  The problem is that unless your opponent
has an even number of points to go, it won't help you at all since you
should take *any* double.  For example, suppose you are ahead 4-2 in a
5-point match (post Crawford), and your opponent doubles.  If you take,
he has to win both this game and the next game (barring gammons) in order
to win the match.  If you pass, then he only has to win one more game
(since he will turn the cube at his earliest opportunity next game
also).  Consequently, by passing you are essentially increasing
your opponent's match winning chances from 25% to 50%, so virtually any
double should be taken at that score.

If your opponent has an even number of points to go, then it is true that
you may drop an inferior position.  This is called the "free drop".  The
idea is that one extra point doesn't really help your opponent much,
since every game will be played with the cube on 2 anyway.  For example,
suppose you are ahead 4-1 (post-Crawford) in a 5-point match.  If you
take the double, then your opponent has to win this game and the next one
to win the match (and there would be only one more game after this, since
if the score got to 4-3 he would immediately turn the cube the next game
also and that would be for the match).  If you pass then you are ahead
4-2, which as we have just seen also requires your opponent to win the
next two games.  Thus, when your opponent has an even number of points to
go you should pass if you are the underdog; if he has an odd number of
points to go you should never pass.

If the Holland rule is in effect, this just leads to more complications.
For example, suppose I am behind 4-3 in a 5-point match (post-Crawford).
I know that if I double my opponent will pass if he is the underdog.  So,
if I have enough of an advantage maybe it is right to play on for the
gammon.  This probably won't happen with no Holland rule; after one
exchange of dice rolls I don't figure to have that much of an advantage
so I will just double immediately.  However after two dice rolls this
could happen, so I might play on.  In this way the Holland rule may tend
to lengthen (rather than shorten) matches, and create some more

I hope I have explained why the Holland rule really doesn't accomplish
what it was designed to do, and why it has been discarded from the
tournament scene.  We should do the same on FIBS, as has been done.  As
the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     


Match Play

1-away/1-away: advice from Bernhard Kaiser  (Darse Billings, July 1995)  [Long message] [Recommended reading]
1-away/1-away: advice from Stick  (Stick+, Mar 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
1-away/1-away: and similar scores  (Lou Poppler, Aug 1995) 
2-away/3-away: playing for gammon  (Tom Keith, Feb 1996) 
2-away/4-away: Neil's rule of 80  (Neil Kazaross, June 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
2-away/4-away: cube strategy  (Tom Keith, Dec 1996) 
2-away/4-away: practical issues  (Mark Damish, Jan 1996) 
2-away/4-away: trailer's initial double  (Kit Woolsey, Jan 1996) 
3-away/4-away: opponent's recube  (William C. Bitting+, Feb 1997)  [Long message]
3-away/4-away: racing cube  (Bill Calton+, Nov 2012) 
3-away/4-away: tricky cube decision  (Kit Woolsey+, July 1994) 
3-away/4-away: what's the correct equity?  (Tom Keith, Sept 1997) 
4-away/4-away: take/drop point  (Gary Wong, Oct 1997) 
5-away/11-away: redouble to 8  (Gavin Anderson, Oct 1998) 
7-away/11-away: volatile recube decision  (Kit Woolsey, May 1997) 
Both too good and not good enough to double  (Paul Epstein+, Sept 2007) 
Comparing 2-away/3-away and 2-away/4-away  (Douglas Zare, Mar 2002) 
Crawford rule  (Chuck Bower, May 1998) 
Crawford rule  (Kit Woolsey, Mar 1997) 
Crawford rule--Why just one game?  (Walter Trice, Jan 2000) 
Crawford rule--history  (Michael Strato, Jan 2001) 
Delayed mandatory double  (tem_sat+, Oct 2010) 
Delayed mandatory double  (Donald Kahn+, Dec 1997)  [Recommended reading]
Doubling when facing a gammon loss  (Kit Woolsey, Jan 1999) 
Doubling when opponent is 2-away  (David Montgomery, Dec 1997) 
Doubling when you're an underdog  (Stein Kulseth, Dec 1997) 
Doubling window with gammons  (Jason Lee+, Jan 2009) 
Free drop  (Ian Shaw, May 1999) 
Free drop  (Willis Elias+, Oct 1994) 
Gammonless takepoint formula  (Adam Stocks, June 2002) 
Going for gammon when opp has free drop  (Kit Woolsey, Jan 1998) 
Going for gammon when opp has free drop  (Kit Woolsey, Apr 1995) 
Holland rule  (Neil Kazaross, Apr 2010) 
Holland rule  (Kit Woolsey, Dec 1994) 
Leading 2-away with good gammon chances  (Douglas Zare, Feb 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Match play 101  (Max Urban+, Oct 2009) 
Matches to a set number of games  (Tom Keith+, Oct 1998) 
Playing when opponent has free drop  (Gilles Baudrillard+, Dec 1996) 
Post-crawford doubling  (Scott Steiner+, Feb 2004) 
Post-crawford doubling  (Maik Stiebler+, Dec 2002) 
Post-crawford doubling  (Gus+, Sept 2002) 
Post-crawford mistakes  (Rob Adams, Sept 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
Post-crawford/2-away: too good to double  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, July 2004) 
Slotting when opponent has free drop  (onur alan+, Apr 2013) 
Take points  (fiore+, Feb 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Tips to improve cube handling  (Lucky Jim+, Jan 2010) 
When to free drop  (Dan Pelton+, Oct 2006) 
When to free drop  (Tom Keith+, July 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
When to free drop  (Gregg Cattanach, Dec 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
When to free drop  (Kit Woolsey, Feb 1998) 
When to free drop  (Chuck Bower, Jan 1998) 
Which format most favors the favorite?  (Daniel Murphy+, Jan 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]

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