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Tactics & Strategy

Some 'new' ideas


Problem 26 from "New Ideas in Backgammon" by Kit Woolsey

XG skin design by Rain


We’re introducing a new book this week (well, from 1996) - by the highly-respected player & teacher Kit Woolsey. This was the first book to be based around computer analysis - back then it was ‘Jellyfish’ rather than ‘XG’.

Both tactics and strategy come into play in this position. Strategically do you leave the anchor altogether with 23/16; shift the anchor with 23/22 xxx; or keep the 2pt anchor with 22/16 xxx)? And tactically which checkers might you move on your own side of the board (hint!) - favouring safety or board-building? Even with best play you only have around 15% winning chances here, but how do you maximise those chances?

Keeping the 2pt anchor helps your timing, but commits you to waiting and hitting. Switching to the 3pt anchor is riskier in terms of timing, but gives you a launching pad to run the last checker home if warranted (and if you can roll a 1 and a 6). Hopefully you all realised timing is the key here (and that abandoning the anchor altogether is a suicide mission), and went with 22/16 xxx.

Tactically how to play the one? 16/15 is silly as it puts you in direct fire for return shots. You need to build your board to contain any checkers you might hit, so 8/7 or 7/6 aren’t right. 6/5 slots the most important next point, but that checker on the 4pt is going to be hardest to put to good use. Use it while you can with 4/3, which just edges out 6/5 for that reason.

Gold medal if you got 22/16 4/3, and Silver for 22/16 6/5.

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