Crashed Anchor Games

by Douglas Zare
2 July 2014

Douglas Zare

In backgammon matches, we need to be able to evaluate positions which are clear passes for money play. One such type of position is a crashed deep anchor game where we have 2 or more checkers stacked up behind a prime while our forward position has crunched. We still have chances to race and to hit shots, but even hitting a shot may leave us an underdog.

If the primed anchor is high, we might have a take for money based on the racing chances, but if the anchor is deeper, the result is a clear money pass due to insufficient winning chances and a significant risk of getting gammoned when we are forced off the anchor. Sometimes, that's good enough to take in match play.

Red leads 3-away 7-away.
Should Red redouble?

Here is a position I encountered recently. If Red redoubles, White can take and redouble for the match, or pass to try to win from Crawford 7-away, which is worth about 9-10%. At this score, there is a very narrow window of correct redoubles and takes, so if White can take, Red probably shouldn't redouble. How much should White win with 3 checkers on a 3 point anchor?

This depends on the strength of White's board. If White could hold the anchor until the end, White would hit over 20% of the time. White doesn't get as many shots as this, but if White does hit, board strength matters a lot. Here are some examples of positions after White hits a shot, where we vary the strength of White's board.

Red on roll. White wins 47%

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