Battle of Champions

by Jake Jacobs
22 August 2016

Jake Jacobs

ple whose vital contributions to backgammon are too easily ignored. Recording and transcribing matches is a tedious process. Today we can thank tournament organizers like Rory Pascar and Bill Riles (to name but two), and less heralded but no less important staffers such as Tara Mendocino and Michelle Steinberg (to name two more), for seeing so many matches are recorded, transcribed, and posted. Along with them I'd like to thank Terje Pedersen. Terje's site, Backgammon Studio, is an invaluable resource. Not only is he building a library of matches, but the site offers a feature whereby you may choose a player, play as that person, and see how your game compares with theirs. It was from Backgammon Studio that I obtained my copy of the 13-point finals match. The Joker plays the Black checkers, and Joe the White.

First blunder to Joe. While he won't like it if the Joker rolls a pointing number, staying back is better. Joe should have played 11/7, 9/3. Instead he played 24/18 and then covered his 3pt. The Joker has only eight numbers that force a shot, and while he gains a few fly shots on 61 and 64, he loses on 42 and loses even more on 52.

He gained the equity back two rolls later. The Joker cleared the 11pt with 33, Joe remade his prime with 54, there was a good double/take, and then The Joker rolled 51. It is tempting to hit and continue on to the deuce, as The Joker did, but a closer look reveals it to be a honey trap. While hitting wins plenty of gammons (18.49% versus 7.33%) it sacrifices almost a lot of games (74.56% versus 66.75%). Seven fly shots is a lot. Making the ace is correct.
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