Ace-Point Games

A Matter of Judgment
Kathy Posner, 1982

From Backgammon Times, Volume 2, Number 4, Fall 1982.

During the Chicago Cup Tournament I played a match against the formidable Freddy (Freydun) Chamanara. It was an eleven-point match and the score stood against me 10–7. Freddy did not realize that we were at Crawford because he thought it was a 13-point match. His opening position was very strong so he quickly cubed me. Under any other circumstances I would have dropped. This was not the case here because of the score. He was shocked by my take and then equally puzzled by my immediate recube. I explained that it had been Crawford.

We got into a discussion of the rules here. According to one expert the true Crawford rule is that the person losing the match cannot originally cube. The protection of Crawford is for the leader of the match. If he waives that protection and doubles, then his opponent can recube. It is a very complicated question. You can also consider the use of the cube here as a misplay that is up to an opponent to accept or not.*

[* It is now accepted that the doubling cube is out of play during the Crawford game. The Crawford game is always scored with the cube at 1.]

There needs to be a more definitive explanation for this since this problem occurs often in these days of multiple tournaments. The result of any particular match can cause a tremendous swing of money earnings. With Freddy, I now only had to win one game for the match instead of several.

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Black trails 7–10 in match to 11.

Black to play 2.

The game finally came down to the position illustrated and I had a 2 left to play. I thought long and hard before making my decision. If I kept both checkers on his ace point, Freddy would have 14 bad numbers. I would get 20 shots with 6-1, 5-1, 4-1 (with 2 blots), 13 shots with 6-5, 6-4, 5-4, and 11 shots with 2-1. But I would get no shots if he rolled a 3.

If I split my back men Freddy now has 20 bad numbers. With 6-1, 5-1, 4-1, 2-1 (assuming that he hits on the ace point), I will have 11 returns. Twenty shots result from 6-5, 6-4, 5-4, and 20 shots from 6-3, 5-3, 4-3, but with two blots.

There is obviously a lot more action created by my splitting. The only bad angle is that if he rolls 1-1, 3-3, or 3-1, I will have virtually eliminated myself. What agony! I eventually made the play to split the back men. It was a trying decision and, since my Alpha waves were trying so hard not to think of his gin numbers, it happened anyway. He rolled 3-3, I entered, and the match was history!

Any reader comment on this would be appreciated. The decision to create more bad numbers was inviting, but I invited myself out of the match!

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