Celebrating 15 years in backgammon games

23 Skidoo Backgammon Quiz

by Jake Jacobs
12 March 2013

Jake Jacobs

Spring break is coming, and whether you are planning to head to Florida and feed yourselves to the swarm of sharks I have been reading about, or heading to the multiplex to watch former Disney children behaving badly, or you are a former Disney child behaving badly (there seem to be so many some of them must play backgammon!), or if you are heading to Thailand, as my family is, you need a quiz to see you on your way.

In each position Black is on roll, and has a 23 to play. Unless otherwise noted, each correct play is worth 10 points.

1: Money Game

2: Money Game

3: Money Game

4: Money Game

5: Money Game

6: Black leads 3-1 to 5

7: Black leads 2-1 to 5

8: Money Game

9: Money Game

10: Money Game


1) 6/4*, 4/1* "Hit two, they're small," we used to say. Here I'd say "Hit two, because there is less chance of being hit back." When not hit back, Black is in great position to roll forward, with priming or blitzing options both on the table.

2) 8/5, 6/4* This time you will have made your five point when you hit on the 4pt. The next best play, making the 11pt and 5pt, is a blunder.

3) 6/4, 6/3 It is always right to peel... except when it isn't. If Black's acepoint were slotted, instead of closed, 6/4, 3/off would be slightly better.

4) 6/1 or 4/1, 3/1 The play you do not want to make is to play 13/8, volunteering six immediate shots.

5) Bar/22, 5/3* Not hitting is a monstrous blunder.

6) 6/3*, 5/3 If you were thinking that it was correct to anchor because of the score, it shows you were paying attention. But closing White out is worth the risk of failing to escape the back checkers. If Black owned his 8pt instead of his acepoint it would be correct to make the 21pt.

7) 23/18* The downside to hitting--and it is a very big downside--is that Black loses considerably more gammons at a time he would prefer to not be gammoned. Just under 8% of all games are gammon losses for Black should he anchor on the 21pt, but that figure jumps to almost 18% if he hits. What does he gain? About 10% more wins, and about 11% more gammons, more than enough to compensate.

8) Bar/22, 13/11 We saw that for Problem 5 the correct answer was to break the board, hitting. This time that play would be a small drop when White redoubles. The quiet 13/11 leads to a small take. Part of the difference comes from White's poorer distribution of builders, but a still greater factor is that White does not have exposed blots to attack when the hit leads to White fanning.

9) 24/21, 23/21 It is so tempting to make the 5-prime. It looks as though if you make the advanced anchor you give yourself a bad 4pt game and a lesser prime, whereas if you make your 3pt you have a mediocre ace-deuce backgame, and a better prime, trading up on both sides of the board. But your backgame is worse than it looks. You may still get your backgame, depending upon how things shakedown, but you are better placed for a front game with an advanced anchor, especially when you prevent him from converting to a six-prime in front of you.

10) 20/15* You seem to be a little better off than White all the way around: you have the best anchor; your inner board is stronger, and can be made stronger yet; you have better priming prospects. Why rock the boat by making a risky play? But one thing you don't have is the lead in the race. If you hit he might roll a joker "back at ya!" But he might not. Hitting is best.


90-100 Oh you kid!

70-80 The bee's knees!

50-60 The cat's pajamas.

30-40 You don't know your onions.

0-20 Phonus balonus!

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Article text Copyright © 1999-2014 Jake Jacobs and GammonVillage Inc.

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Subject: Re: 23 Skidoo Backgammon Quiz
Date: 17 Mar 2013 14:09 EST

I played with some of these positions in XG. In problem 1, XGR+ version 1 prefers 13/10 6/4*. How far back is that play in your rollout? In problem 4, I found that if we weaken White's board, for example taking two checkers from her 3pt and putting one each on her 4pt and 5pt, then 13/8 floats to the top.

Subject: Re: 23 Skidoo Backgammon Quiz
From: *Stick*
Date: 17 Mar 2013 18:56 EST

As for #1 Jake is on crack. XG2 prefers on all major levels the play you mentioned, 10, 4*. A rollout confirms that it is the best play.

As for #4 of course if you leave the inner board blotted paying now would become correct the same as if you made it only a 2pt board spanning a 4 prime from the 8pt to the 5pt it would be right to pay now. As the problem is presented though we can almost always leave those indirects later at the same cost if needed while we buy time for our opponent to perhaps slot the next point in line or we roll something better. Classic pay now/pay later problem.

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Celebrating 15 years in backgammon games