by Walter Trice
18 June 2009
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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