How should White play 52 here?
I just want to remind all the non-New Zealand players, that this position is a money game as played in New Zealand meaning that the Jacoby rule is not being used so either side can lose a gammon.
If the thought of losing a gammon scares you, then you could just play 7/2 5/3:
This play minimises the chances of you losing a gammon, but at the price of destroying your board. Now if you do manage to get lucky and hit a Black checker, you will have a very hard time containing it. This is way too conservative, and your opponent does have an inner board blot, so getting hit when your opponent does not roll a 3, 2 or 1 will give you a return shot from the bar. This should make you willing to take a risk, so you consider playing 17/10:
This play seems to strike the right balance, you will have shots if your opponent misses you and is forced to move one of the checkers from the 14 point.
The problem with this play, is that when you get the shot it will usually only be a single shot.
Consider 17/12 7/5:
You will be hit with any 6 or 1, but your opponent can use 1’s to safety the blot on their 4 point so you had no direct hitting numbers from the bar. This duplication means that you can afford to make this play as it will give you a double shot on the rolls where your opponent misses you and leaves a shot. Those 8 numbers – 54, 53, 52 and 43 are terrible for Black.
Some of Blacks hitting numbers like 42 and 41 will enable you to enter with high numbers and hit with low numbers.
The take away here is that due to our opponents inner board blot being on their 4 point, that blot will remain and give you return shots from the bar with a lot of Blacks rolls. You want to maximise those return shots by giving yourself a double shot.
If we now remove our opponents inner board blot, then it is a tie between leaving only a single shot with 17/10 or tearing up your board with 7/2 5/3.