Speed Boards

by Douglas Zare
1 December 2012

Douglas Zare

Backgammon races are generally simple, and what could be simpler than a checker play decision with a speed board?

And yet, I ran across a tough decision recently with a choice between two speed boards. I hope you will find it interesting, too.

In a pure n-roll position, every non-double would decrease the number of rolls by 1, and every double would decrease the rolls by 2.

A speed board is a bearoff with all checkers on low points with no gaps. Speed boards resemble pure n-roll positions, but it may be possible to open up gaps by rolling too many aces or low doubles.

Red to play 4-2

There are three legal plays, but we can safely eliminate 5/1 3/1. So, is the right play 5/3/off, which leaves 3 checkers on the ace and deuce points, or 5/1 2/off, which leaves 2 checkers on the deuce point and 4 on the ace point?
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