XG (ExtremeGammon) Explain to Me

by Stick
4 November 2014


I give lessons to all ranges of players. I have noticed a tendency with players who fall into the low Open or high Intermediate range. Normally each lesson I give will cover a subject such as early game checker play, early game blitzing cubes, game plan, effective pip count etc... From time to time we have a lesson though where we just play. This level of player seems to love this lesson. The reason being there are decisions that come up that may never make it into lessons and while XG may tell them in their own playing that their play is wrong I can still offer something XG can't. I can tell them why it's wrong.

So this article may be a bit basic for some of the more hard core readers here. If that's the case, congrats to you. I think we are lacking in articles that aim at the more mundane decisions that are made. Things that once you get to a certain level you may even take for granted that it's a decision. What I've done for this article is take decisions where the students specified said "Hey Stick, hold up, why is that right?" The analysis will be directly below the problem so scroll slowly.

Number 1

is Player 2

score: 0
pip: 113
Unlimited Game
Jacoby Beaver
pip: 168
score: 0

is Player 1
to play 55

1.XG Roller++Bar/10 13/8eq: +0.105
54.21% (G:7.39% B:0.19%)
45.79% (G:16.46% B:0.23%)
2.XG Roller++Bar/20 13/8 7/2*(2) eq: -0.383 (-0.488)
41.34% (G:9.99% B:0.28%)
58.66% (G:21.12% B:0.32%)

eXtreme Gammon Version: 2.19.206.pre-release

Finding massive blunders in your own play is fantastic in a sense. It's an area that you should be able to improve on and significantly improve your PR. This is a play where I wouldn't have seriously considered anything other than the best play yet another player wanted to blitz. When I asked the million dollar question, "Why?", it became clear where the misunderstanding was. He said that after the blitzing play he'd double on any of the 9 fanning numbers. That's the first thing you have to consider. It's a huge no double even after the blitzing play + fanning. We have a kangaroo board with not a ton of men in the zone and the ones that are there are all stacked on the same point. We will also still be way behind in the race.

That part of the explanation helped. The other part is realizing just how strong the best play is. I explained in similar situations where the opponent really isn't threatening to escape his last man immediately if we can play '15 on 1' that's usually a good proposition for us. I asked him to image how it would play out and he said that likely on the opp's turn he'd clean up his blot and slot or make something in his inner board. Then on our turn we'd grab more outfield control and builders for the 5pt or back of our prime. All of a sudden if the opponent doesn't roll a good number on that subsequent turn he will be in a tough spot.

The last thing I recommended which is a common recommendation of mine is playing the position out after either play until you understand the strengths and weaknesses of said play. yes, this is very time consuming but definitely worth it for a problem such as this.

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