Giving Gifts

by Douglas Zare
25 December 2002

Douglas Zare

Woolsey's Rule on Doubling is one of the most important principles of practical backgammon:

"If you are not sure whether your opponent has a correct take, you must double."

Woolsey's Rule works very well in money play and most match scores, but not when you lead in a match. I'd like to give a quantitative treatment of Woolsey's Rule in money play and match play over several columns. This may be viewed as the first. We will discuss really bad doubles, horrible takes, and worse passes. (These are generous gifts of equity to your opponent.) The quantitative study of extremely bad cube actions turns out to be related to the analysis of reasonable positions, and we will encounter some fundamental ideas that will be useful for a mathematical treatment of Woolsey's Rule.

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