Roll Variance in the Bearoff - Part 1

by Douglas Zare
3 September 2014

Douglas Zare

The effective pip count is a great way to analyze backgammon races. Although people continue to work on alternatives, many of these are more complicated but less accurate than learning to estimate the effective pip count. However, the effective pip count does leave room for significant improvements. In this article, we will consider whether combining the effective pip count with the variance of the rolls might be a better way to analyze bearoff races.

Let's consider doubling in a money game with three checkers off and a closed board. In which races can your opponent take? First, let's look at the pip count alone. What is the highest pip count of a take, and what is the lowest pip count of a pass?

Red doubles.

White's pip count is 15, but this is a 1.247 pass.
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