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DOUBLING PROBLEMS

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Dec 1, 1993, 11:20:43 AM12/1/93
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I would like to get some advice on doubling actions....
I consider myself as a fairly good bg player. I was taught by some
Turkish friends and I often win games. In the turkish game the
doubling cube doesnt exist and therefore I never learnt how to use it
correctly. However recently I have lost many games due to wrong cube
action. (with a horrible climax in Snoopys tournament on fibs where I
was leading throughout a match 4-1 only too loose 6-4 by wrong cube
action). When I play I see the mistakes the opponent makes and
yet I loose because of the cube action. This drives me mad. i feel I am
the better player but still I loose... Now my question is are there any
easy rules for cube actions? Not too complicated like working out
probabilities and so on. Due to these haevy losses my rating has gone
down dramatically....

So please give me some advice in order to get my cube action technique
the same level as my backgammon playing technique....
I do realise a factor luck is involved but still I feel my cube action
is lacking my playing level......

Regards

Mark

Michael J Zehr

Dec 1, 1993, 12:14:18 PM12/1/93
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In article <2dig8r\$n...@info.epfl.ch> bog...@imhfhp34.epfl.ch (Mark BOGSTAD) writes:
>I would like to get some advice on doubling actions....

There's no question that the doubling cube is the most complicated
aspect of backgammon. There isn't any way to handle the cube corrrctly
without "calculateing probabilities" as you said. More precisely, you
absolutely have to have some idea of your chance of winning a game to
have any idea how to handle the cube.

Here are some rough guidelines to start out with though. (NOTE: this is
very simplified. Entire books are written about cube handling. It will
take lots of practice.)

1. If you have less than 25% chance of winning the game, drop a double
if offerred by your oppoentn. If you have more than 25% chance, accept
the double.

2. Since your opponent will still accept a cube until you have a 75%
chance of winning, don't double until you are close to that and have
some rolls that will put you over 75% chance. (This is called losing
your market -- when your opponent would take before you roll, you roll a
good number, and now your oppoent will drop.)

3. If you are leading in a match, you should in general double later
and drop earlier. If you are behind, you should double earlier and
accept later. This is only a rough guidline though. See Kit Woolsey's
"How to play Tournament Backgammon" for a much better description of
cube handling at match play.

4. Always play backgammon for affordable but meaningful stakes. This
is surprisingly important. If you play "just for fun" you'll take
doubles "to see how they'll turn out" and win some of those games
anyway, giving yourself incorrect reinforcement. Likewise you'll drop
doubles you should take because "you dont' feel like playing it out."
If something is riding on the game, you're much less likely to do that.
In short, it hones the senses and makes you think about the cube all the
time. There is also definite penalties and rewards for correct cube
action.

5. Practice practice practice.

Good luck,
michael j zehr

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