Clearing the 11 Point

by Douglas Zare
1 April 2014

Douglas Zare

One of the simplest families of backgammon reference positions is the high anchor holding game. If you have a racing lead of 20 or more pips, you are trying to clear the midpoint against an anchor on the 5 point or bar point, then the position is usually a double and a take. (It can even be a double with a smaller lead.) In many positions, the 11 point serves a similar function as the midpoint, but it should be easier to clear against a bar point anchor. How does this affect the reference position?

First, let's review the standard high anchor holding game more carefully. The trailer has some chance to win the race, some chance to hit, and a chance to win the race after the leader wastes pips to avoid leaving a shot. If the racing lead is smaller, the trailer depends more on racing chances and less on hitting. The trailer may need to release the midpoint and rely only on the anchor. The trailer's 6-6s from the bar point are blocked, which can interfere with that ability to race. If the trailer catches up in the race, the trailer may be forced to leave a dangerous shot.

Red leads 105-125 pips.
Red to roll or double.
0.760 take.

If the racing lead is larger, the trailer relies more on hitting equity. It is more important that the trailer still has the midpoint. When the leader's racing lead is over about 60 pips, the leader starts to win a lot of running gammons, and for an extremely large lead this can mean that the trailer no longer has a take.
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