From: Backgammon Galore : Woolsey-Bagai Match

Kit Woolsey vs. Jeremy Bagai
Game 4

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

Match to 9:   Kit Woolsey - 2,  Jeremy Bagai - 4

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

Position 1: White to play 21.

TD: I see you have finally learned the errors of your previous ways. I, of course, like Jeremy's opening 2-1.

    24/23, 13/11      +.006
    13/11, 6/5        -.012
    24/21             -.020

Position 2: Red to play 41.

Kit: This is the natural developing move. It is far too dangerous to slot the five point in the face of a double shot. 6/2*/1* gains a tempo, but the cost of putting a checker out of play this early is much too great.

TD: Actually the double hit isn't so bad here, largely because Kit's play leaves so many shots. However I slightly prefer his play.

    24/23, 13/9      -.089
    6/2*/1*          -.092
    24/23, 24/20     -.105

Position 3: White to play 22.

Kit: This is obviously a strong developing play, building the important four and 11 points as well as moving the back man up to where it will annoy me if I don't roll well. Still, the simple hitting play of 24/16* has a lot going for it. The hit puts me on the bar, rips away my only builder, gains a chunk in the race, prepares to play with only one man back, and stops me from doing anything on the offensive front for a roll. After Jeremy's play I have several good numbers which will make a key point, and then his advantage will be minimal, while after the hit he will certainly retain the advantage almost whatever happens. I prefer 24/16*.

Jeremy: Hitting accomplishes much less. For the fourth deuce I play 24/22 instead of 23/21 because it harasses Kit's blot without being as attractive of a target. I think this is correct.

TD: It will surprise everyone that I like 13/11(2), 6/4(2) rather than moving one of the back men. It even surprised me a bit. What is happening is that since the back men are already split there is no pressing need to resplit them. Bringing a third checker to the 11 point will give Jeremy more firepower for an upcoming attack; meanwhile by staying back he avoids getting attacked in turn. Actually all the plays are pretty close, including Kit's suggested hitting play.

    13/11(2), 6/4(2)        +.161
    23/21, 13/11, 6/4(2)    +.152
    24/16*                  +.150
    24/22, 13/11, 6/4(2)    +.145

Position 4: Red to play 41.

Position 5: White to play 33.

Kit: This is better than the loose 13/10, 11/5, 8/5, which would give me several indirect shots. The extra builders aren't worth it, particularly since Jeremy's position is well-balanced after the actual play. Of great importance is that Jeremy's back men are split, which means that he may be attacked. If that happens, he will not want to have loose blots dangling on his side of the board. In general you want to avoid being weak on both sides of the board at the same time.

TD: Kit's analysis is correct. This is not a good time to be strewing blots around.

    11/5(2)             +.193
    8/5(2), 8/2*        +.137
    13/10, 11/5, 8/5    +.126

Position 6: Red to play 43.

Kit: I'm not enthusiastic about getting involved in a blot-hitting contest when Jeremy has the stronger board, but I really don't have much else. 13/6 is pretty sick, and just gives him a chance to continue to improve. At least if I get away with my play I can make some headway.

Jeremy: Kit's play is better than any other play that leaves a shot because it is much more constructive when it works. The alternative, however, is 13/6. I think that's my play. TD?

TD: You called? You're right, Jeremy, but it's close and Kit's play is not bad. However, avoiding a blot hitting contest when your opponent has the bigger board is often the winner, and so it proves here.

    13/6           -.314
    13/9, 6/3*     -.321
    13/10, 6/2*    -.329

Position 7 before roll: White's cube action?

Kit: Jeremy isn't far from a double, with the stronger board and hitting threats. Still he would have to hit and have me flunk in order for him to lose his market by a lot, and if he fails to hit I might be able to equalize things. I agree with waiting, but I wouldn't quarrel with anybody who spun the cube here.

TD: The equity is only .321, so even with the fairly high volatility this isn't enough. However Kit is right that Jeremy isn't too far from a double.

Position 7: White to play 31 from the bar.

Kit: No reason not to lock up the anchor now. He wants to avoid retaliation this roll. He will have a strong double next turn unless I roll well.

TD: A photo, with moving up toward the more advanced anchor winning by a nose. Admittedly I wasn't taking the cube into account in my analysis.

    B/22*/21         +.464
    B/22*, 23/22     +.463
    B/22*, 6/5       +.439

Position 8: Red to play 21 from the bar.

Kit: Conservative, but necessary. I just can't afford to be hit now.

Jeremy: Now Kit goes the other way and plays safe. It looks to me like the difference between this position and the last is that now Kit has three men back and an anchor -- so I leave the nine point slotted and play B/23, 6/5. But I'm not sure at all.

TD: No, Jeremy, time to play safe. Last time playing loose accomplished something; it put you on the bar and knocked you off a point you wanted as well as unstacking the heap on the six point and starting the three point for Kit. Here, your suggested play does little constructive.

    B/23, 9/8      -.443
    B/24, 9/7      -.458
    B/22           -.481

Position 9 before roll: White's cube action?

Kit: Jeremy is still on the verge of a double. The problem now is that he doesn't have many serious threats. He isn't threatening to hit anything, and my position stablized considerably when I made his two point. My take would be pretty clear, and not too much figures to happen next turn to change that. Even though he has a clear advantage, there doesn't seem to be any reason to turn the cube.

TD: Close, but I think Jeremy just has a double. His equity is .443, and while the position doesn't have huge volatility still that looks like just enough. Granted he might tend to be a bit more cautious at the match score, so I can't seriously criticize him for not doubling.

Position 9: White to play 52.

TD: The loose hit on the ace point with 13/11, 6/1* came out surprisingly well considering that the hit is behind Kit's anchor. Still, Jeremy's solid play was the winner.

    13/6           +.340
    13/11, 6/1*    +.323
    13/8, 6/4      +.308

Position 10: Red to play 21.

Kit: Advancing the anchor even further is a big plus for me. Now I am in little danger of being primed. Jeremy is still well ahead in the race, but if I can contain one or both of his back men the game will go my way.

TD: You better believe it! Nothing else is close.

    24/22, 23/22      -.279
    8/5               -.388
    13/10             -.416

Position 11: White to play 53.

Kit: This is better than 13/8, 13/10 even though dumping a checker on the ace point is not what Jeremy wants to do. Bringing the men down loses the midpoint and leaves me a few indirect shots which are very strong.

Jeremy: This looks better than 13/10, 13/8 which leaves six shots.

TD: I can do no more than echo these sentiments.

    8/5, 6/1       +.150
    13/10, 13/8    +.124
    13/5           +.104

Position 12: Red to play 53.

Kit: I was concerned about Jeremy rolling some numbers which pointed on me or hit and made the ace point, so I decided to get out now rather than play 13/5. This way he has fewer rolls which hit and make a fourth inner board point, and he will have to lose his midpoint in order to hit.

Jeremy: I think this is better than 13/5. My outfield points are stripped and I have a blot on my ace point so Kit provokes contact. Good play.

TD: Actually, 13/5 is not even in the ballpark. All the decent candidates involved moving the back man, and running all the way was the small winner.

    23/15           -.111
    23/18, 8/5      -.117
    23/18, 13/10    -.152

Position 13: White to play 63.

Kit: Jeremy has three main choices. He could play completely safe with 8/5, 8/2, but this is very awkward and will just lead to problems next turn. He could hit with 13/10*/4. This puts me on the bar and duplicates my aces, but he would still be scrambling for safety next turn and the back men would remain stranded. I think his play is best. He is well ahead in the race, so it is thematic for him to just try to bring the men around and win. His inner board is stronger than mine and I am short on attackers, so he isn't in great danger of being blitzed. He may not get another opportunity as good as this to get the back men moving.

Jeremy: 13/10*/4 duplicates aces, but leaves two blots and isolates my rear checkers. Though we all know that it's often wrong to raise anchor early, I think this is one of those times. I'm 39 pips up -- I can't afford to play a waiting game.

TD: Jeremy is unerringly accurate. This is not the time to be hitting -- it is time to be running.

    22/13            +.203
    22/16, 13/10*    +.134
    13/10*/4         +.102

Position 14: Red to play 42.

Kit: The four point is big, and Jeremy still has the blot on his ace point to worry about if he hits. My play looks better than the safer 15/11, 13/11.

TD: This time it is Kit who is right on the money in weighing the priorities.

    8/4, 6/4         -.194
    15/11, 13/11     -.238
    15/11, 8/6       -.271

Position 15: White to play 53.

Jeremy: Leaves another blot, but may make it easier for me to escape.

TD: Nothing else is even close.

    13/10*, 6/1      +.346
    13/10*/5         +.145
    13/10*, 13/8     +.071

Position 16: Red to play 31 from the bar.

Position 17 before roll: White's cube action?

Kit: Jeremy has a clear advantage and a threat of hitting, so turning the cube is a serious consideration. If he hits and I can't immediately hit back he will lose his market, but he won't lose it by all that much since I will always have plenty of play from the defensive three point. If he doesn't hit, I am in pretty decent shape. Once again I agree with waiting.

TD: Equity of .315, but very high volatility. Not quite good enough in my book, but very close.

Position 17: White to play 52.

Position 18: Red to play 11.

Kit: Clearly best. I trade the four point for the three point, but I gain putting him on the bar, making my bar point, and having a very threatening position. Now I may be the one with the cube turn shortly.

Jeremy: Kit must hit to prevent me from consolidating. 7/3* keeps it's safer and it allows Kit to make the bar point and diversify.

TD: Kit's play is ok, but I don't like the idea of leaving that stray blot on the eight point when Jeremy has such a strong board. I prefer 13/12, 7/6, 4/3(2)*. The difference between the bar point and the eight point isn't worth it.

    13/12, 7/6, 4/3(2)*      -.066
    13/12, 8/7, 4/3(2)*      -.075
    8/7(2), 4/3(2)*          -.116

Position 19: White to play 11 from the bar.

Kit: This play may seem obvious, making the blocking nine point. However, I don't think it is correct. The problem is that I have such a great timing advantage with the many men in the outfield that Jeremy isn't going to win a priming battle. If he can't escape his back checker immediately he will be forced to give up the nine point he has just made, and that may prove to be awkward. His entire goal should be concentrated on escaping his back checker. For this reason, I think he should play B/23, 11/10, 5/4. This forces me to make my eight point next turn, and I might not be able to do so. Assuming I do, at least Jeremy will be able to play comfortably with the men on the ten point. Making the nine point is more likely to cause him problems later on, since if he can't escape he will have to clear the point and that could prove to be inconvenient. If my outfield checkers were more advanced then his play would be correct, since by hemming in my back men he would have a chance to force me to crack my blockade. In the actual position I figure to have so much time that not escaping one of my back men isn't too important. This is a very tricky position and I would expect almost every backgammon player (including the best players in the world) to make Jeremy's play since it looks so natural, but I do believe that it is an error.

Jeremy: The alternative is B/23, 11/10, 5/4. This gets me off the 24 point which would be very nice if Kit can't cover his eight point, but doesn't make my nine point, blocking sixes. But is making the nine point such a good thing? It might become a liability when it comes time to clear. I think I should worry about that later and be happy with my five-prime now.

TD: Imaginative thinking, Kit, but it just ain't right. Making the blocking nine point is big. Jeremy will have a couple of rolls to play with, and keeping you hemmed in on sixes can make a huge difference.

    B/24, 11/9, 10/9      +.074
    B/23, 11/10, 5/4      +.037
    B/24, 11/10, 8/6      +.010

Position 20: Red to play 54.

Kit: My play here is a natural followup to my previous comments. I have the opportunity to spring one of the back men with 22/13, yet I choose to make the eight point instead. The reason, as I suggested, is that I have all the timing in the world. Right now my entire goal is to contain his back man; if I can do that I should have no trouble escaping since he will be forced to break his blockade. I still have two outfield checkers to play with; that should be sufficient.

Jeremy: Kit pays off to 5-3 in order to bring another builder in for the four point. I think this is correct.

TD: Working on the offense is definitely correct. Leaving the nine point slotted is right, but just barely.

    13/9, 13/8      -.010
    13/8, 12/8      -.012
    22/18, 13/8     -.032

Position 21: White to play 32.

Jeremy: I don't think I can afford to stay back with 8/6, 5/2. If I didn't roll a three immediately my outfield points would have to go. Instead, I provoke an exchange of hits now while my board is stronger and I still have a five-prime.

TD: Not moving up would be a huge blunder.

    24/21, 8/6      +.243
    8/6, 5/2        +.004
    24/21, 6/4      -.133

Position 22: Red to play 55.

Kit: That roll changed everything. Suddenly my timing is no longer there; I am forced into attack mode. However my attack could be pretty strong.

Position 23 before roll: White's cube action?

Kit: With a lot riding on the next roll, Jeremy shoots it out. If he hits he will almost certainly lose his market, although I will retain a fair amount of play. If he misses he could be in trouble, but I will be faced with the problem of covering the blot on the four point and escaping my back men at the same time. I think this is a fine double.

Jeremy: I have 15 market losing hitters, 16 dancers, and no crashers. Kit has three checkers behind a five-prime and could crash next roll. His four are *very* duplicated. I think this is a strong double, although it certainly looks scary.

TD: Equity of .473 with obviously large volatility. Clear double.

Kit: The take is pretty clear. I can easily win this game frontwards if I win the fight for my four point and escape one of the back men, and that is not asking too much. Even if he hits I still have my defensive chances from his three point, and the gammon danger isn't huge.

Jeremy: I guess so. TD?

TD: You better believe it. Equity of -.473. Good double, good take, good cube action. I'm impressed. I would have expected to see more and greater cube blunders than I have seen so far this match.

Position 23: White to play 11 from the bar.

Jeremy: The alternative is B/24, 6/4, 5/4 which preserves the duplication but is very ugly. I think my play is better but could be very wrong.

TD: What does duplication have to do with anything? Put the men where they belong. Jeremy's play is correct.

    B/24, 8/7(2), 5/4      +.274
    B/24, 8/7(2), 6/5      +.251
    B/24, 6/4, 5/4         +.246

Position 24: Red to play 64.

Kit: Hitting is clear. This way he needs to roll a one and a six to escape, while if I don't hit he needs only a six. I don't figure to bust his board in time; I must win this on power.

Jeremy: Kit should certainly look at 8/4, 8/2 which has the benefit of allowing me to crash on 5-5, 5-4, 5-1, 4-4, 3-3, and 2-2. However, hitting has the benefit of letting me escape with two numbers rather than 11, so it looks best.

TD: Kit's play is best. Don't let your opponent escape in one roll. The priming approach isn't as good.

    8/4, 7/1*      -.283
    8/4, 8/2       -.323
    8/2, 7/3       -.656

Position 25: White to play 64 from the bar.

Position 26: Red to play 42.

Position 27: White to play 41 from the bar.

Kit: Jeremy would like to hold the nine point, but he can't afford to give me a direct shot with B/24*, 6/2. The nine point which I thought he shouldn't have made has done its duty; but now it may become a liability.

TD: Slotting the two point not only isn't all that bad, it is the best play! Holding the blocking nine point is very big. Jeremy's play gives Kit four killers, 6-3 and 6-2, while the 11 shot numbers which slotting the two point leaves are not nearly as crushing and some of them force Kit to crunch his board. Not an obvious play at all, but a little thought should show its merits.

    B/24, 6/2      +.395
    B/24, 9/5      +.371
    B/24, 5/1      -.073

Position 28: Red to play 63 from the bar.

Jeremy: Nice shot.

Position 29: White to play 43 from the bar.

Position 30 before roll: Red's cube action?

Kit: It suddenly all went my way. Now I have a crushing redouble. The real question is, should I be playing for the gammon? Possibly, but I think cashing is correct. First of all I have the immediate worry of rolling 4-4. The three men stuck on his three point could present problems if I am unable to liberate one of them soon, and even if I do get them out there is always the danger of being attacked when I escape two of them and leave one behind. Also if Jeremy rolls 6-1 when he enters I would probably lose my ability to claim with the cube. These risks could be tolerated if I had good gammon chances, but in this position my gammon chances aren't all that great. Even if I succeed in closing both of his checkers out I would still be only about 50% to win a gammon, and this closeout is a long way away. I believe cashing is correct. As an added bonus who knows; he might even take.

Jeremy: Nowhere near good enough to play on for the gammon.

Kit: The pass is pretty clear. Jeremy is stuck on the bar, will be behind a five prime with two men if he enters, and I have sufficient outfield control. His four-prime represents some threat, but not enough.

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

Go on to next game: Game 5

Return to: Backgammon Galore : Woolsey-Bagai Match