by Walter Trice
16 July 2004
Bearing in and off against contact remains one of the more
difficult phases of backgammon strategy. That is a little surprising, at least
to me, after having played the game and watched it evolve over the past 20
years. I would have guessed, back in 1984, that by now we would have a far
better grip on problems that come up near the end than those that arise in the
middle of the game.
What makes these problems so thorny? Why haven't they all been completely solved by computer programs? In order to understand the difficulties one needs to know, at least in broad terms, what has been accomplished using computers and calculators.
Last month's article mentioned the database produced by Hugh Sconyers that gives exactly calculated hitting probabilities for a large number of contact endgames. Some of the problem solutions cited the database as a sort of reference standard for "safe" play, though in most cases we found one excuse or another for doing something different. Let's see if we can reproduce some of Hugh's numbers, starting with a simple position in which those numbers tell us everything we need to know in order to play the position perfectly
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Article text Copyright © 1999-2013 Walter Trice and GammonVillage Inc.
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