Current Position - what should White play here?

Position 254

How should White play 44 here? You have just rolled 16 pips so you consider running from the 18 point with 18/6 8/4: This would be a good play if you are ahead in the race by more than 4 pips after the roll. This is because the average roll is 8 pips, and if you are ahead in the race by 4 pips with your opponent on roll, then the race is exactly even. Here, you are effectively behind in the race and your rear most checker is alone by itself, unable to make an anchor. Kit Woolsey said “when ahead in the race then race, when you are behind in the race then seek contact”. You seek contact by building a strong board so that when you hopefully get into a blot hitting contest, you will emerge the victor. You could make the best two points with 8/4(2) 7/3(2): Now if your opponent hits you loose on their 7 point, you will have returned shots with 65, 64, 63, 61, 52 and 43 – that is 12 rolls or 33% of the time. This all looks good, except the stack of checkers on your 6 point looks ugly

Position 253

 How should White play 61 here?  You have the stronger board, and it is always good to win a Gammon so you consider 8/2* 23/22: 23/22 lets you “see daylight” or be able to escape with a direct number, in this case a 6. The downside of this play is that you will be hit with any 2 as well as 41, 44 and 11 – that’s 15 rolls or 44% of the time. When you are hit you will end up with another checker behind your opponent’s 4 prime. Being hit 44% of the time is just too much. Why hit at all? Why not just escape 23/16: If you are missed you will be in a great position, but you will be hit with any 1 as well as 54, 52, 64 and 62 – that is 17 rolls or 47% of the time. Again, that is just too many hitting rolls to give to your opponent. You could consider the priming alternative of 13/7 8/7, which creates a broken 5 prime: You will only be hit with 4 rolls – 53 and 52, but your opponent has 4 builders aimed at their 4 point and at least 3 builders aimed at all their other inner board points. If yo

Position 252

  How should White play 62 here? You both have 3 checkers back, you both have your 21 point anchor but you will still be 17 pips behind in the race after the roll. It would be nice to make your 18 point so you consider playing 13/5: This move prepares to attack Black when Black vacates one checker off their 21 point, but unfortunately, they are not planning on leaving their 21 point anchor at the moment. If you are behind in the race why not build a blocking point in front of the anchor, making it harder for them to race? Consider 18/10: In the old days, you would hear players say that moves like this were good moves to lure your opponent off their anchor. Yes, Black will leave their anchor, particularly if they hit you and because they are ahead in the race before they roll, and after they hit you, then you will be on the bar. This does not limit their future options - it just gives them more good rolls. You cannot tidy up your blots here, so you really want to leave them where

Position 251

  How should White play 62 here? You wanted a roll to point on your opponent’s checker on your 5 point, but unfortunately you did not get it. You need to make the most of the 62 that you have rolled. You consider just hitting 13/5*: There are 15 fives – any 5 plus 41 and 32. Black also hits the blot on your 5 point with 33 and 31. And the real joker for Black is 11, which enters, hits the blot on your 13 point and makes their 5 point. That’s a total of 19 rolls or 53% of the time. You could refrain from hitting and just play 24/16: After the roll you will be ahead in the race by 18 pips. You have duplicated 4’s to hit on both sides of the board. All this is good, but this move gives the initiative to your opponent. You have the stronger board, you have 11 checkers in the attack zone and you are ahead in the race. The correct move is to double hit 8/2* 7/5*: If you count the shots, you will see that you will be hit with any 5, any 2 and 11. That is a total of 21 shots or 58% of

Position 250

 How should White play 64 here? You are very glad to have rolled the 4, and after entering, you consider making a run for it with bar/15: If you are missed, you have the chance to escape both of your checkers. But being missed is the hard part. You will be hit with 28 rolls or 78% of the time. If after your first checker is hit, you stay on the bar then your second blot has a very good chance of joining your first checker on the bar. And note that whenever Black hits, then Black is bringing more checkers into the attack zone, to attack or make more points. The alternative is to play bar/21 13/7: I remember being told that you want to avoid leaving blots in your opponent’s inner board, where your opponent can attack them and also slot the point they attack on the same time. This may be true in a general sense but here Black has no attackers that hit with direct numbers. If Black hits with an indirect like 54, then you will have a chance to hit back. And if Black hits your blot on th

Position 249

  How should White play 61 here? From the UBC contended tournament in Istanbul. This position proves that even really good players can roll badly. It is always good to hit and take the initiative, so you could consider 8/2* 24/23: Unfortunately, this gives Black too many ways to hit you, without it costing them anything if they do hit. So, although you would like to take the initiative, this gives Black a chance to take the initiative back by hitting you. You could hit and lift with 8/2*/1: But here the game has too long to go for you to bury a checker on your one point. It is good to make the 18 point with 24/18. Then all you have to do is find the best one. Consider 24/18 5/4: If we do this, we give up the asset of a strong 3 point board. It lets Black hit while advancing their checker on their 23 point, which is what they want to do. It will be easier for Black to escape from our 5 or 4 points. You could minimise blots by going 24/18 6/5: But again, you are weakening y