Position 85, page 168
From The Backgammon Book, by Oswald Jacoby and John R. Crawford

White to play 5-3.

Position 85 developed after black made his two point early and then tried unsuccessfully to escape with one of his back men. You hit that man and have continued to contain both back men in your inner board. You also doubled the stake some time back, and he made a mistake and accepted. You are now playing to win a gammon, and you roll 5-3.

You can play absolutely safe by moving two men from your bar and five points to your two point, but this would be a bad move indeed. In the first place, it will greatly reduce your chance to win a gammon since black will then be able to play is full move. In the second place, it will pile men up on your two point and weaken your whole position. So you quickly decide against this play and plan to take some chance.

Two possibilities are: (a) hit his blot on the three point with the 3, and move from your bar point to your two point with the 5; and (b) hit his blot on the one point with the 5, and move from your bar point to the four point with the 3.

Neither of these moves represents any real risk of the game, and either one will lead to a gammon if black fails to get in on his first roll. But if he comes in and makes a point in your board, your good chance to win a gammon will have disappeared. He will hold that point as an anchor and move his other men around the board without disturbance. If he gets really lucky, he may build up a good board for himself, hit a blot if you have to leave one in the end game, and come out a winner. Most of the time he will merely succeed in averting the gammon.

Of these two plays (b) is the better, but there is a third play that most experts would make. That play is to hit both his blots with men from your six point. You still aren’t risking the game, but you are making the outstanding play to win a gammon. If he fails to bring either man in, you are almost sure to fill your board quickly and romp home. If he brings one man in, he will still have a man on the bar and may never get that second man back in.

Only 3-1, double 3, or double 1 will do him any good, and you can afford this slight risk.

(a) 6/3*, 7/2
(b) 6/1*, 7/4
(c) 6/1*, 6/3* x
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Money play
Black owns 2-cube
White rolls 5-3

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Checker play: 3-ply
Cube play: XG Roller

5-3: Game BG   Equity
1 6/3*, 6/1* W
+1.4029 x  (c)
2 7/4, 6/1* W
+1.2564 (0.1465)  (b)
3 7/2, 6/3* W
+1.2171 (0.1858)  (a)

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No. 84, page 166
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No. 86, page 169

List of Positions from The Backgammon Book

The Backgammon Book (1970), by Oswald Jacoby and John R. Crawford

Backgammon Galore : Books