Strategy--Checker play

Forum Archive : Strategy--Checker play

Gammonish positions

From:   Michael Manolios
Date:   26 November 1999
Subject:   Re: Gammonish positions
Google:   81lbe6$re8$

Alan Webb wrote:
> In the past I have come across the term "gammonish position" I have a
> pretty good idea what a gammonish position looks like but am not too
> clued up on how to play from outset for a gammon. playing for gammons
> is unfortunately not covered in the books I own. During the couse of
> a match there are certain match scores in particular as a trailer or
> leading when 2-away where I believe one should try in the early game
> to get into a gammonish position. I'm not sure how though. I would
> assume a play which may tempt your opponent off a high anchor or
> perhaps to keep your back men split encouraging contact may be correct.
> What about opening moves? Are there any variations from standard which
> may be applicable? eg. Splitting 6-4 24/18 13/9?
> Any tips appreciated as it is about time I learned how to actively
> play for gammons rather than hope for the best :-)

   Most of the time, playing to simply win is the best way to go for
the gammon too. You should alter your checker play though when the
possibility to gammon your opponent gets really high. This is usually
the case when you are trying to blitz and close out your opponent. Then
you should strive for plays that may give less wins but more gammons
that compensate for them, thus the rule "choose the play which
maximizes your equity" still applies.
   Another case when you should change your play to go after the
gammon, is when you know that two or more plays are very close to each
other. Then you generally should choose the play which leads to a more
double-edged position which is usually a priming battle, or a tactical
hitting contest. Note again that the chosen play should be the one with
the higher equity, taking of course into consideration the score.
   When you try to turn a game into a gammonish one, look for ways to
lead it to a priming battle, and do everything you can to prevent your
opponent to make an advanced anchor. Once he has made even his 3-point,
your gammon chances go down considerably, unless you manage to hit
several enemy blots on your way home after you 've made most of your
remaining inner points.
   Thinking in this way, one can understand the little changes he must
make to his opening moves to go for a gammon. The best opening moves
(and many of the best second moves also) have very little differences
in equity, so their order may, in some cases, be affected by the score.
This applies very often when the trailer can use a gammon while the
leader cannot (post and even-away crawford).
   Suppose that you roll 43 for example. There are three practically
equal moves, but in this case you should play 13/9 13/10, because this
is the move that maximizes your chances to make good inner points and
the bar, and so start leading the game to a priming battle. Even more
important is that it makes it very difficult for your opponent to split
his back checkers in order to try to go for that badly (in this case)
needed high anchor. As he cannot use gammons, there's no reason for you
to split your back checkers on the other side of the board, so you
should reject the otherwise fine moves 13/9 24/21, and 13/10 24/20.
   With the same reasoning, when you roll 63 in your first move, prefer
24/18 13/10 to 24/15, with 62 (always) split with 24/18 13/11, and with
54, 52 and 32 bring two checkers down from the midpoint. (Note that
24/13 with 65 is still better than 24/18 13/8)
   Another aspect is that the slot on the five point now becomes much
more attractive (except when in even-away post-crawford) as it makes
more frequently the five point, while you don't have to worry so much
about a third checker being sent back, as you are not afraid of
gammons. This means that you should slot with 21, but I have to admit
I 'm not sure about 41 and 51 and I don't have my rollout results
available right now.
   Finally, if your first roll is 64, now the 8/2 6/2 is even much
clearer that the other two choices as it makes a inner point that very
often becomes really useful in a hitting contest, something that you
are after anyway.
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Strategy--Checker play

Avoiding major oversights  (Chuck Bower+, Mar 2008) 
Bearing off with contact  (Walter Trice, Dec 1999) 
Bearing off with contact  (Daniel Murphy, Mar 1998)  [Long message]
Blitzing strategy  (Michael J. Zehr, July 1997) 
Blitzing strategy  (Fredrik Dahl, July 1997) 
Blitzing technique  (Albert Silver+, July 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Breaking anchor  (abc, Mar 2004) 
Breaking contact  (Alan Webb+, Oct 1999) 
Coming under the gun  (Kit Woolsey, July 1996) 
Common errors  (David Levy, Oct 2009) 
Containment positions  (Brian Sheppard, July 1998) 
Coup Classique  (Paul Epstein+, Dec 2006) 
Cube ownership considerations  (Kit Woolsey, Apr 1996) 
Cube-influenced checker play  (Rew Francis+, Apr 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Defending against a blitz  (Michael J. Zehr, Jan 1995) 
Estimating in volatile situations  (Kit Woolsey, Mar 1997) 
Gammonish positions  (Michael Manolios, Nov 1999) 
Golden point  (Henry Logan+, Nov 2002) 
Hitting loose in your home board  (Douglas Zare, June 2000) 
Holding games  (Casual_Observer, Jan 1999)  [Long message]
How to trap an anchor  (Timothy Chow+, Apr 2010) 
Jacoby rule consideration  (Ron Karr, Nov 1996) 
Kamikaze plays  (christian munk-christensen+, Nov 2010) 
Kleinman Count for bringing checkers home  (Øystein Johansen, Feb 2001) 
Late loose hits  (Douglas Zare+, Aug 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
Mutual holding game  (Ron Karr, Dec 1996) 
Pay now or pay later?  (Stuart Katz, MD, Nov 1997) 
Pay now or pay later?  (Stephen Turner, Mar 1997) 
Pay now or play later?  (Hank Youngerman+, Sept 1998) 
Play versus a novice  (Courtney S Foster+, Apr 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Playing doublets  (Grunty, Jan 2008) 
Playing when opponent has one man back  (Kit Woolsey, May 1995) 
Prime versus prime  (Albert Silver+, Aug 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Prime versus prime  (Michael J. Zehr, Mar 1996) 
Saving gammon  (Bill Riles, Oct 2009) 
Saving gammon  (Ron Karr, Dec 1997) 
Splitting your back men  (KL Gerber+, Nov 2002) 
Splitting your back men  (David Montgomery, June 1995) 
Trap play problem  (Brian Sheppard, Feb 1997) 
When in doubt  (Stick+, Apr 2011) 
When to run the last checker  (Stick Rice+, Jan 2009) 
When you can't decide  (John O'Hagan, Oct 2009) 

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