Cube Handling

Forum Archive : Cube Handling

When to accept a double

From:   Daniel Murphy
Date:   3 February 2001
Subject:   Re: How to analyze a cube action?

> What's the rule for making the *take* decision?

Consider what your opponent must do -- how well he must perform -- to
make you wish you had dropped his double. What is he threatening to
do?  How likely is he to roll that well? And consider -- if you take
the cube, how do you plan to win? What's your winning strategy? Do you
have one? If you can't come up with a plan, drop.

A common intermediate mistake is to double with a position that
certainly threatens to improve a good position, but isn't too likely
to immediately become overpowering. For example, your opponent
threatens to make either of two points, but he really needs to make
both of them (and that's not likely) to wipe you out. So take.

Similarly, the longer the game is from ending, the more likely it is
that you should take. The more good things your opponent must do, the
more chances he has to err or roll badly, the more chances you have to
turn the game around, the more willing you should be to take. For
example, if you need to hit to win and can expect to get only one
indirect shot, you should drop. But if you can anticipate two winning
indirect shots, you probably have a take. Count the ways you might win
the game. A couple of indirect shots, maybe a direct shot, together
with some racing chances usually add up to a take.

A way to improve take decisions is to think about the cube on every
roll. While your opponent is shaking the dice, think: what would
I do if he doubled? Drop? Take gladly? Take confidently? Take
reluctantly? Drop immediately?

The cube, when it comes, should never be a complete surprise. One
benefit you get from thinking about the cube every roll is this:
Sometimes you'll be thinking about a possible take and figure you
should drop, but your opponent doesn't double. Well, if the cube comes
2 or 3 rolls later and your position hasn't improved, drop!

Another benefit from thinking about the cube every roll is that it
should help you become more aware of how positions develop from no
double, to double/take, to double/drop. That should help you with both
doubling and taking decisions and also further your awareness of
development and timing.

Daniel Murphy, Raccoon on FIBS, GamesGrid

Chase  writes:

To the other fine advice that has been posted, I will add a quote from
Kit Woolsey that I have found helpful (emphasis mine):

"If you are not in IMMEDIATE danger of being blitzed, primed,
crunched, or outraced, then it is probably a take."

Douglas Zare  writes:

You have to have a lot of experience. You have to have a feeling for how
likely it is for you to get gammoned from the given position, and how
likely it is for you to be able to turn the game around. I would focus on
a few common areas first: the blitz, the race, and bearing in against a
high anchor. Make sure you understand these well enough that you are not
making huge errors.

If gammons were not an issue and volatility did not exist, then you should
take if you have a 50% chance of evening up the game, taking into account
that you have control of the cube.

Try to figure out how your position might improve, or how you can put
together an adequate defense. If it will definitely look worse in the
future, e.g., you closed out your opponent but have a checker stuck behind
a 6-prime, then your position is already bad now.

Douglas Zare
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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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