Variations on a Single Reference Position

by Douglas Zare
5 August 2014

Douglas Zare

A backgammon reference position can mean a position whose value is known, but it should mean a situation you understand. You are unlikely to repeat an exact contact position after the opening. It's more likely that you will hit a similar position, so you need to understand the values of the changes from the position you studied.

One approach is to focus on positions very close to a 1.000 take/pass. You will often face a tough take/pass decision with positions like that. If you know a borderline decision which differs in only one characteristic, then you only have to decide whether the change is positive or negative, and that's usually easy to determine. However, if there are some good changes and some bad changes, you need to be able to weigh these against each other. A focus on borderline decisions doesn't help you to balance characteristics against each other.

Let's take one position, and modify it in a few different ways.

Money play.
Red doubles. This is a 0.900 take.

This position is a huge double, and a 0.900 take for money. Red can win by blitzing or priming, and if White anchors Red has a good chance to run home against the holding game. However, White has two places to anchor and no checkers out of play, and White will probably have a lot of chances to anchor.

Now let's look at some modifications. The easier question is which of these are still takes. For a bigger challenge, order the positions from the biggest take to the biggest pass in EMG.

Variation A: Give Red a perfect 3 point board.

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