It’s Not WHAT You Think – It’s HOW

by Joe Sylvester

(This article first appeared in the Flint Backgammon News in January, 1988.)

Very often I am confronted by players who ask about a doubling position and what the right answer should be. Instead, they should be asking how to work out the answer. They should be weighing the main components of the situation in order to make a wise decision. Just what are those components…?

Every position can be evaluated in terms of:

• Pips (Race)
• Position (Checker Distribution)
• Vigorish (Threats)

Basically, if a player has an advantage in two of these three components, he should double.

If the player doubled has an advantage in one of these components, he usually has a take.

It’s when the player doubled has a disadvantage in two components and is equal in the third that borderline decisions occur.

Here are some examples (eXtreme Gammon rollouts  follow the article.):

POSITION 1

Sly1

In this position, Red is down in pips, his position is undeveloped and his vigorish is very minimal. All he has is an anchor. Black has a strong double and Red should drop. This is a sucker double.

POSITION 2

Sly 2

In this position Black has a slightly better position than Red, and Black is ahead in the race. Red has something to fight back with, however. Red has an advanced anchor, good checker distribution, comparable board strength, and some small priming possibilities. Here, Black should double, and Red should take.

Keep in mind that in evaluating these component factors, the component must be relevant. For example, a player with 14 men on his ace-point and a checker caught behind a prime is clearly ahead in pips. Just as clearly, he has a drop.

Rollouts

POSITION 1

Sly1

Sly1rollout

POSITION 2

Sly 2

Sly2 rollout

Sly 2015 – In retrospect, I see that there are no market losers and the 3-point game is very resilient.  BUT – keep in mind, that 17.5% wrong passes would justify the double!  So know your opponent!  And, remember that it is an intimidating position that will in fact draw some incorrect passes.

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