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Old 04-14-2019, 11:41 AM   #1
pilliapina
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Another position I'm clueless on.

Hey there. Backgammon beginner here just trying to learn. This position recently came up while playing on a nice antique board against myself on the bed.


The computer says that the correct play is clearly 24/13 and in second place is 24/18 13/8. That seemed strange to me, I'd have played 24/18 23/18 because I've heard that anchors are a good thing to have. I've also heard that hitting in the early game is good so 11/5* and 6/1* crossed my mind, but that's probably horrible and is just asking for us to get hit in return.


I still follow basic beginner strat of A) can I hit? then B) can I make a point? then C) Can I safety a checker? though in the early game I know that slotting and taking some risks is a good thing to do. (I opened with 21 and played black 24/23 and 13/11)

Can I learn some useful strategic concept from this position? Why is 24/13 the right play and how can I understand to make it in the future?

Last edited by pilliapina; 04-14-2019 at 12:02 PM.
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Old 04-14-2019, 01:01 PM   #2
Robertie
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Re: Another position I'm clueless on.

Good position. Thanks for posting it. A lot of important ideas here, so let's get started.

1) Whatever program you're using is trash. 24/13 is an awful play, as is the computer's second suggestion 24/18 13/8. Right now the battleground is your inner board, and these plays are completely irrelevant. Upgrade to Extreme Gammon, which is the state of the art right now.

2) Your basic beginner strategy -- hit / make point / play safe -- needs an upgrade. Making points and hitting are indeed at the top of the heap. Sometimes hitting is better, sometimes making a key point is better, but those are the most important goals most of the time. If you can't do either, then safety might be right, although setting up to do good things in the future is likely to be a better idea.

How safe you want to play is usually determined by your opponent's home board. If he's made one or two points in his home, then you can take chances to improve your position. If he has 4, 5, or 6 points in his home board, then you'll probably play safe. If he has 3 points, then you've got a tough call. Here he has only a 1-point board, so you're not concerned with safety if you can find an aggressive play that makes progress.

3) "When on offense, play offense. When on defense, play defense." That was a maxim of the great Joe Sylvester, and it directly applies here. Red's on the bar and doesn't have a good home board, so you're on offense and entitled to make plays that might give you a crushing advantage.

The best play is 11/5* 13/8, hitting a second checker and bringing down a builder. You're opponent then has 21 hits to stay in the game (all 5s and 4s plus 2-2). But his 15 miss numbers give you a chance to get a big advantage quickly by making your 5-point or 4-point or both.

Note that 24/18 23/18 is a defensive play, but you don't need defense right now. Your opponent is on the bar and doesn't have a board yet, so he can't hurt you right now. You should attack and keep attacking until you either reach a position that's good enough to double or your opponent anchors somewhere and the game goes in a new direction.
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Old 04-14-2019, 01:05 PM   #3
pilliapina
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Re: Another position I'm clueless on.

Ok so apparently Gnu Backgammon sucks then?

Your advice makes a lot of sense. Thank you Bill! It indeed looks like a strong offensive position.

Last edited by pilliapina; 04-14-2019 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 04-14-2019, 01:55 PM   #4
pilliapina
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Re: Another position I'm clueless on.

Alright I took my XG Mobile and input the position into it and it gave me 13/8 and 11/5* as clearly the best play. And also 23/18 11/5* as the second option which is a small error.

Time to uninstall Gnu Backgammon and never trust it again! Good to know this!
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Old 04-19-2019, 04:35 PM   #5
Karol Szczerek
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Re: Another position I'm clueless on.

I've used GNU for years.
Yes, it's very slow compared to XG.
Yes, it's not as strong as XG but still very very strong.

I couldn't believe when I saw you post that it recommends a completely misguided play that goes opposite direction that the position suggests.

And it doesn't.
You must be doing something wrong with it:
See below.

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