Asymmetric Matches

by Douglas Zare
4 September 2013

Douglas Zare

If you want to become a strong backgammon player, it is enough to learn which plays are right against strong opponents. Usually those same plays are optimal against any opponents. However, if you want to maximize your chances to win tournaments, you have to make the "wrong" plays at times to find the greatest advantage against weaker players. Sometimes you should intentionally make small errors to increase the opportunities for your opponent to misplay. You should be careful about making a guaranteed error now in the hope that your opponent will return the equity with interest later, but sometimes it is right.

As a general rule, the stronger player should avoid letting the cube escalate in positions with little skill. Letting the cube increase in the late bearoff decreases the amount of skill advantage the stronger player will have on average in the rest of the match. To a lesser extent, this applies to other races and simple holding game positions.

Here are some cube decisions. In each, consider the skill difference Red needs to prefer the less aggressive play of not doubling or passing.

1. 0-0 to 3.
When should Red redouble?

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