Black leads Yellow 4-0/5 (Crawford Game) with a 6-4 to play.
Because it is the Crawford game, black does not need to worry about being doubled and gammon losses are of very little importance. The difference between trailing 4-1 or 4-2 post-crawford makes little difference. As such, black should be looking for pure plays that improve the position, without the normal concerns of counterattack by yellow. Four reasonable choices emerge:
- 8/2, 6/2: Makes an additional point in the home board and leaves only a single shot.
- 8/2,7/3: Does not leave any shots and dumps two blots in the home board.
- 20/14, 8/4*: Has the advantage of hitting and threatening yellow’s second blot, but all at the expense of relinquishing the 20-point anchor and scattering four blots around the board.
- 8/4*, 8/2*: This play may seem very unconventional as it volunteers two direct shots. However, it does remain in tune with the purity that is dictated at this score. Both anchors are retained and the two extra checkers on the heavy 8-point are put to work. Counter hits by yellow will only serve to improve black’s timing for a late shot and gammons are of little concern. Meanwhile a miss by yellow, which occurs more than 30% of the time, will put black in excellent position to continue the attack and build valuable home board points.
An extreme gammon rollout overwhelming confirms the efficacy of this pure play. When the cost of gammons is removed from the picture, look for plays that put your checkers where you want them.
Frank is a two-time winner of the Backgammon World Championship in Monte Carlo and current holder of the title. He is a strategic consultant for professional sports teams, and within the sports betting and gaming industries. His work in decision science, critical thinking and sports analytics has been featured in many major news media outlets including ESPN, NFL Network, the New York Times, Fox Sports, Esquire, the Ringer and Showtime. He proudly serves as the co-director of the San Diego Backgammon Club.