Gammon Races - Part 2

by Douglas Zare
14 December 2011

Douglas Zare

Races are the simplest part of backgammon, but they still produce interesting checker plays. Let us continue to study racing to save the gammon. In Part 1, we looked at filling an ace point gap and the effective pip count. In this column, we will look at other gaps, and we will use a database to find the optimal plays.


When you are trying to bear off next roll, sometimes you just have to count the rolls out of 36 which bear off. These basic examples can be instructive.

Red to play a deuce.

Red has at most one last chance to save the gammon, so the goal is to play the deuce which bears off on the most rolls out of 36. 12/10 misses on any ace or deuce except 2-2, for 17 saves. 4/2 forces Red to roll a 6-2 or higher or a double 2 or higher, for 13 saves. 3/1 improves on 6-1 but misses on 6-2 and 2-2 for 12 saves. So, the right deuce is outside. It is usually right to play a deuce outside.
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