Cube Handling

Forum Archive : Cube Handling

Against a weaker opponent

From:   Kit Woolsey
Date:   26 July 1994
Subject:   Re: Expectation Relative to Opponent Strength (was: cube decision)

> To what degree do you take the strength of your opponent into account
> in cube decisions?

In the 1970's when *nobody* knew how to play the game the "grind'em out"
style might have been effective (although even then it was debatable).
Nowadays when most intermediate players play a quite reasonable game,
it is not a good idea at all.  In fact, I tend to be more aggressive
with my doubles and take against weaker opposition.  There are two
reasons for this:

1) If a double is taken, the game has to be played to conclusion.  This
gives the weaker player more opportunities to make mistakes.  Anybody can
play the first few rolls decently; it is in the later stages of the game
where the really costly blunders in checker play occur.  By being
conservative with the cube hoping to grind them out, you don't give your
weaker opponent a chance to make these mistakes.

2) I don't mind jacking the cube up to the 4-level, even when it will put
one of us way ahead or behind in the match.  The reason is that weak
players are more likely to make serious cube errors when the match score
is lopsided.  If the score is close then proper cube strategy is roughly
equivalent to money play, so the weaker player's lack of understanding
match strategy won't matter -- his normal cube action is likely to be
correct.  If the score is lopsided (either whether I am well ahead or
well behind), my opponent is more likely to make a serious cube error.

The exception to all this occurs when, if I make the aggressive cube
action, the match will be decided on that game and there is no or little
skill left in the game.  This is somewhat analogous to your all-in
example in the no-limit poker tournament.  For example suppose the
situation is such that if I pass a double I will be behind 2 away, 5
away, while if I take it is for the match (this could occur if I am
behind 4 away, 5 away, and my opponent redoubles to 4).  Let's also
assume it is a straight race, so there is little or no skill left.
Against an equal opponent my chances behind 2 away, 5 away are 25%, so I
would act accordingly.  However if my opponent is weaker I might up my
estimate of my chances at that score to, say, 35%, so I would take the
redouble only if I had better than 35% chances to win the race.  I
emphasize that this is true only in a no-skill position.  If the position
is still complex there will be plenty of chances for my opponent to screw
up the play, which means my probability of winning the game in question
might be considerably better than the position itself would indicate.

To summarize: I don't really take my opponent's skill level into account
on my cube decisions unless if the cube is taken it is the last game of
the match.  I strongly believe that players who are overly conservative
against weaker opponents are throwing away much of their (imagined?)

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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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