Cube Handling

Forum Archive : Cube Handling

Evaluating the position

From:   Daniel Murphy
Date:   12 March 2000
Subject:   Re: accepting a double

> I have read several times that you should accept a double if
> you have a 25% chance of winning the game.  Fine,  but as a
> beginner I have no  way of interpreting that.  Any help out
> there?

A combination of book learning and experience will help you find
interpretations that make sense to you as over time both your play
your ability to accurately assess positions improve.

First, make sure you understand why the 25% rule of thumb is decent
advice to follow. I hope at least one of the places you've read this
explains clearly why -- if you can win at least 25% of the time -- you
will -- in the long run -- lose fewer points by taking than by

Sometimes you can easily tell -- or can easily learn -- whether you
win enough to make taking your best move. In the bearoff, for example:
your opponent has two checkers on his 2 point and doubles. You have 2
checkers on your acepoint.  Do you take? (Yes) If this isn't obvious
to you, then you need to read up on probability and actually counting
how many rolls are good for your opponent and how many are ok for you.

Unfortunately, other than simple bearoff positions, accurately
assessing a position is difficult enough for an experienced player,
let along a beginner. But the more you play, the better your
understanding will become. So play often, and pay attention to what is
happening. At the end of a game ask yourself if you learned anything.
Often enough, you will, and can apply that knowledge to your next

As a beginner -- and not playing for money I hope! -- you would be
well advised to TAKE ALL DOUBLES unless you are absolutely sure you
should drop. See how the game plays out. Over time you'll get a better
idea of what's a takable double and what is not.

Get a good computer opponent -- JellyFish or Snowie, and play it
often.  Even with the "player" versions of this programs, which cost
little or nothing, you'll be able to see when your computer opponent
doubles, when it takes, when it drops.  Play slowly enough to stop and
ask yourself what you yourself would have done.

When you play other humans, pay attention to when they double, take
and drop.  Play your equals and play better players. Notice the
difference. Try to figure out if they're right or wrong, and why.

When you are doubled, try to form at least a general idea of what's
happening in the game, i.e.:

"Why is HE doubling? I'm winning!" -- Take.
"This game is about 50/50." -- Take.
"He's winning but he's still got a long way to go to wipe me out."
"I COULD roll a 16 and a couple of big doubles." Drop!
"I would have doubled too, and I would have hoped my opponent would
DROP." -- Take!
"I would have doubled too, and I would have hoped my opponent would
TAKE." -- Drop!
"I would not have doubled; I would have played on for gammon." --
"I have no idea." -- Take!

Take a mental walk around the board.  Ask yourself what you -- if you
were opponent -- would want you to do -- and then do the opposite.

How fast you improve depends on how much time and energy you care to
devote to study and play. But is this enough to get your own ideas
focused and flowing?
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

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


Cube Handling

Against a weaker opponent  (Kit Woolsey, July 1994) 
Closed board cube decisions  (Dan Pelton+, Jan 2009) 
Cube concepts  (Peter Bell, Aug 1995)  [Long message]
Early game blitzes  (kruidenbuiltje, Jan 2011) 
Early-late ratio  (Tom Keith, Sept 2003) 
Endgame close out: Michael's 432 rule  (Michael Bo Hansen+, Feb 1998)  [Recommended reading]
Endgame close out: Spleischft formula  (Simon Larsen, Sept 1999) 
Endgame closeout: win percentages  (David Rubin+, Oct 2010) 
Evaluating the position  (Daniel Murphy, Feb 2001) 
Evaluating the position  (Daniel Murphy, Mar 2000) 
How does rake affect cube actions?  (Paul Epstein+, Sept 2005) 
How to use the doubling cube  (Michael J. Zehr, Nov 1993) 
Liveliness of the cube  (Kit Woolsey, Apr 1997) 
PRAT--Position, Race, and Threats  (Alan Webb, Feb 2001) 
Playing your opponent  (Morris Pearl+, Jan 2002)  [GammOnLine forum]
References  (Chuck Bower, Nov 1997) 
Robertie's rule  (Chuck Bower, Sept 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Rough guidelines  (Michael J. Zehr, Dec 1993) 
Tells  (Tad Bright+, Nov 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
The take/pass decision  (Otis+, Aug 2007) 
Too good to double  (Michael J. Zehr, May 1997) 
Too good to double--Janowski's formula  (Chuck Bower, Jan 1997) 
Value of an ace-point game  (Raccoon+, June 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Value of an ace-point game  (Øystein Johansen, Aug 2000) 
Volatility  (Chuck Bower, Oct 1998)  [Long message]
Volatility  (Kit Woolsey, Sept 1996) 
When to accept a double  (Daniel Murphy+, Feb 2001) 
When to beaver  (Walter Trice, Aug 1999) 
When to double  (Kit Woolsey, Nov 1994) 
With the Jacoby rule  (KL Gerber+, Nov 2002) 
With the Jacoby rule  (Gary Wong, Dec 1997) 
Woolsey's law  (PersianLord+, Mar 2008) 
Woolsey's law  (Kit Woolsey, Sept 1996) 
Words of wisdom  (Chris C., Dec 2003) 

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