Step Up or Leap Out?

by Walter Trice
18 June 2009

Walter Trice

For two months this column has addressed checker play problems in which the main issue has been whether to play 24/18 or 13/7 with a six. We found that the pip count alone was surprisingly good at picking the better six to play, with a significant deficit often pointing to the offensive slot 13/7.

Historically, expert backgammon players began in the late 1980's to shift away from a 13/7 bias toward 24/18 along with a trend toward opening plays involving a 24/18 six. For an opening 6-2, 13/5 had been very common. Today anything but 24/18, 13/11 is rare. The standard opening 6-4 had been the running 24/14, while nowadays players often will choose 24/18, 13/9, or will make the deuce point with 8/2, 6/2. I have always assumed that Bill Robertie's discussion of the issue in his book Reno 1986 (published in 1987) was a pivotal influence. As I recall, within a few weeks of the book's publication the 5 point slot with opening 6-2 had disappeared at the New England Backgammon Club.

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Article text Copyright © 1999-2018 Walter Trice and GammonVillage Inc.

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