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# Do you have nerves of steel? A take decision for you to ponder.

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### Gavin Anderson

Oct 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/21/98
to
OK - it's the final match of the World Championships. Somehow you've made it
through, and the score is now you(X):11 away, opponent(O):5 away. There's
something like \$50,000 riding on the outcome of the match. We're all
watching.

The position is as below. O has just redoubled you to 8. Do you take?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 O:-5
------------------| |------------------
O O O O | |
O | |
| |
| |
| |
| |
| |
X | |
X | |
X | |
X X | | |4| -> |8| Take?
------------------| |------------------
24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 X:-11

To give you some help, Jellyfish says that your game winning chances from
this position are a splendid 5.9%.

mistake, and shouldn't even be doubling you yet!

This situation is taken (indirectly) from p.23 of Kit Woolsey's `How to Play
Tournament Backgammon`, which I'm just now reading and enjoying. The
doubling window at this match score and cube value is given as 95-97%. The
book explains clearly why this position would be a take, and I won't try to
repeat that explanation here. I certainly don't want to try and dispute the
result.

Mathematically the take gives you a 5.9% chance of winning the game (and the
match). A pass would leave you 1-away, 11-away (Crawford), with 3% equity in
the match. So the take is clear.

But - I'd like to ask you. If it was you in the hot seat, would you have
taken that double? With all that money and the championship title at stake,
how many of you would have taken the larger mathematical equity, and trusted
your fate completely to the next couple of dice rolls, and how many of you
would have plumped for trying to battle it back from 1-away, 11-away
(Crawford), which at least gives you a chance to input some of your
backgammon skill, rather than leave it all to the dice (Remembering of
course that it's the World Championships Final, so both you and your
opponent are top class).

I can see the emotional argument for passing, but are there any more solid
justifications for passing? Would any of you top class players pass this
cube? I suppose if you passed you'd be looked down upon by your peers (even
if you won?), whereas if you took you could defend it as the correct
decision, and if you made the miracle comeback you would certainly be able

Hope you liked this teaser. If I've made a mistake somewhere here - let me
know!

Gavin Anderson

### John Clarke

Oct 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/21/98
to

Gavin Anderson <brit...@mbf.sphere.ne.jp> wrote:
>
>I can see the emotional argument for passing, but are there any more solid
>justifications for passing? Would any of you top class players pass this
>cube? I suppose if you passed you'd be looked down upon by your peers (even
>if you won?), whereas if you took you could defend it as the correct
>decision, and if you made the miracle comeback you would certainly be able

I wouldn't even have to think twice about taking here. At -1/-11 you are
toast anyway, so take the small opportunity to roll good doubles and ride
with it.

John
jcl...@nortel.ca

### Hank Youngerman

Oct 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/22/98
to
First, I know this would be an easy take. If I drop, I need 11
points. Meaning I need to win the crawford game and then 5 more in a
row, about 1 chance in 64, with some extra chances for scoring a
gammon. I don't need a match equity table to tell me I'm about 2%
here. I know that boxcars get me a likely win, and I have a couple of
chances to roll them.

So I ponder a little longer than I need to. I knew I was taking as
soon as it was offered, but I want to build the drama. The crowd
gasps as I snap up the cube. My opponent rolls 4-3. I put my dice in
the cup and shake............ Out of the corner of my eye I see one
land as a "6" a split second before the other - my gaze turned to the
other die.

And then I woke up.

### Alexander Zamanian

Oct 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/22/98
to

It was a 6! My heart leapt. I was going to be World Champion! Finally,
after all these years of study and practice, my penultimate dream would
be realized. But then my gaze inadvertantly turned to the doubling cube.
It was still on my side showing 8. I had forgotton to rewhip to 16
before rolling!

Three horrifying games later, I go home with second place, vowing never
to play this silly game of luck again.

--
Alex Zamanian
azam...@bbn.com

### Julian

Oct 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/22/98
to
<brit...@mbf.sphere.ne.jp> writes

>
>But - I'd like to ask you. If it was you in the hot seat, would you have
>taken that double? With all that money and the championship title at stake,
>how many of you would have taken the larger mathematical equity, and trusted
>your fate completely to the next couple of dice rolls, and how many of you
>would have plumped for trying to battle it back from 1-away, 11-away
>(Crawford), which at least gives you a chance to input some of your
>backgammon skill, rather than leave it all to the dice (Remembering of
>course that it's the World Championships Final, so both you and your
>opponent are top class).
>
>I can see the emotional argument for passing

There's equally an emotional argument for taking - you're pretty much
resigned to losing, but just imagine the devastated look on your
opponents face when you roll boxes immediately after shipping that cube
back... *evil grin*

--
Julian Hayward 'Booles' on FIBS jul...@ratbag.demon.co.uk
+44-1344-640656 http://www.ratbag.demon.co.uk/
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### Robert-Jan Veldhuizen

Oct 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/23/98
to
On Thu, 22 Oct 1998 14:32:34 GMT, Alexander Zamanian <azam...@bbn.com>
wrote:

>Hank Youngerman wrote:
>>
>> First, I know this would be an easy take. If I drop, I need 11
>> points. Meaning I need to win the crawford game and then 5 more in a
>> row, about 1 chance in 64, with some extra chances for scoring a
>> gammon. I don't need a match equity table to tell me I'm about 2%
>> here. I know that boxcars get me a likely win, and I have a couple of
>> chances to roll them.
>>
>> So I ponder a little longer than I need to. I knew I was taking as
>> soon as it was offered, but I want to build the drama. The crowd
>> gasps as I snap up the cube. My opponent rolls 4-3. I put my dice in

How big a blunder qwould Snowie call this, rolling instead of
redoubling? ;-)

>> the cup and shake............ Out of the corner of my eye I see one
>> land as a "6" a split second before the other - my gaze turned to the
>> other die.
>>
>It was a 6! My heart leapt. I was going to be World Champion! Finally,
>after all these years of study and practice, my penultimate dream would
>be realized. But then my gaze inadvertantly turned to the doubling cube.
>It was still on my side showing 8. I had forgotton to rewhip to 16
>before rolling!

Well I guess you're not the only one then ;-)

--
Zorba/RJ

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