by Jake Jacobs
10 May 2014
I gave a position recently from the Othello Quiz. There is another quiz given at the Japan Open, actually a full-fledged test, the Backgammon Proficiency Test.
Test takers have to answer fifty multiple choice questions based upon position diagrams in sixty minutes. Some are simple, some quite difficult.
Unlike the Othello Quiz, however, these problems are meant to reflect common situations including second roll (How do you play 22 after your opponent runs with an opening 65?), and last roll (Actions with the cube centered for 22 bearing off against 41?). Here is a slightly tougher mid-game problem.
Reject any play that cravenly lifts the blot 2/1. You have White outboarded five to one. Closing White out, especially if you can hit the second man, will win a lot of gammons and lifting throws many of them away. You can make a bold play without making a foolishly bold play, by making your 9pt and shifting the blot 3/2. This gives you sixes and threes to cover, and fours to hit. Only three rolls fail to do either, and all three at least let you run your back checker.
Black (DT) trails 1-5 to 9
Making his first appearance at an Asian tournament was David Todd, formerly of Michigan, currently of St. Louis. Here he trailed Sam Mizutani and made a good double. Despite the close race and his solid four-prime Sam realized that at the score passing was correct; nearly half of his losses will be gammons.
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