Positions From Peoria

by Gerry TanseyIMG_4632

The Illinois State Backgammon Championships were held on the weekend of October 10-12 in Peoria.  Tak Morioka, the prolific craftsman of backgammon boards and beloved ambassador of the game, won the Open Division.

Tak Morioka

Tak Morioka

Petko Kostadinov, the #6 Giant of Backgammon, defeated St. Louis’ own David Todd to take down the Masters event.  Linda Rockwell, Sue Will, and Butch and Mary Ann Meese, once again put on a fantastic show for the backgammon players.

Petko Kostadinov

Petko Kostadinov

Here are a couple of positions that came up over the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

Peoria 1

 

First of all, if you are thinking, “I would have doubled,” you are right.  White should have doubled before this roll, and it is a whopper-sized error to fail to do so.  Even though White is down 7 pips in the race, there are enough market-losing sequences to merit a cube turn.  White could roll something that double-hits or makes the bar point.  Sometimes White hits one checker and Black fans or enters poorly.  Meanwhile, White doesn’t have any rolls that are truly horrible.  White must double in order to take advantage of the crushing sequences leading to gammons.  Black has a big take, as none of his checkers are out of play, the race is close, and there is plenty of game left.

As it stands, White did not double and he rolled 32.  All other things being equal, White should prefer to hit the checker on the 21 point to the checker on the bar point, as this play gains more ground in the race.  In fact, this is what White did.  However, all other things are not equal in this position.  If White hits the 21-point checker, Black can make White’s bar point with any 7, plus 62 and 63, for a total of 10 numbers, after which White’s advantage evaporates.  A much better play is to disrupt Black’s bid for an advanced anchor with 10/7*/5.  After this play, it is hard to find many rolls for Black that will leave him feeling good about his game.  Even plays that leave the bar point slotted are better than hitting on the 21 point.

Peoria 1

 

1. Rollout1 10/7* 7/5 eq: +0.756
Player:
Opponent:
65.52% (G:28.29% B:1.70%)
34.48% (G:10.05% B:0.50%)
2. Rollout1 13/11 10/7* eq: +0.707 (-0.049)
Player:
Opponent:
65.86% (G:26.64% B:1.61%)
34.14% (G:10.87% B:0.75%)
3. Rollout1 24/22 10/7* eq: +0.705 (-0.051)
Player:
Opponent:
65.57% (G:27.40% B:1.84%)
34.43% (G:10.95% B:0.54%)
4. Rollout1 24/21* 10/8 eq: +0.667 (-0.089)
Player:
Opponent:
64.13% (G:24.67% B:1.61%)
35.87% (G:8.78% B:0.39%)

In this next position, White is a Giant of Backgammon, facing a 42 from the bar.

Peoria 2

Earlier, White had gotten Black to take a horrible gammonish cube, and the attack was going swimmingly until now.  After entering with the 2, White moved the only available 4 that didn’t leave a shot, 8/4.  I think most players would have done this.  The trouble is that this position requires much more urgency on White’s part!  Black can roll any 2, 4 or 8 to complete a 5-point prime, and White’s back checker will not be at the edge of that prime.  If Black makes the 5-point, White will be on the underdog side of a prime-versus-prime battle, and suddenly White’s big racing lead is no longer the asset it once was.

That’s right folks.  It’s time for a banana split play!  White should play Bar/23, 5/1*, leaving two blots in his board, but maintaining a 4-to-2 advantage in home board points.  Black’s threat is severe enough that this drastic action is required.  Black dances on 16 rolls, after which White may be able to hit Black’s 20-point blot or re-create a 5-point board.  Even if Black enters, White may have a shot at Black from the roof.  The fight is for Black’s 5 point.  If Black wins that fight, he usually wins the game.  White cannot cede that point for free.  The quiet play is a whopper-and-a-half sized error.

Peoria 2

1. Rollout1 Bar/23 5/1* eq: +0.005
Player:
Opponent:
49.15% (G:33.25% B:0.84%)
50.85% (G:14.35% B:0.86%)
2. Rollout1 Bar/23 8/4 eq: -0.157 (-0.162)
Player:
Opponent:
45.18% (G:25.97% B:0.56%)
54.82% (G:9.50% B:0.45%)

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