How should White play 63 here?
I remember being told the saying “if in doubt, hit”. I think this is a good saying, and it is guided me to the correct move many times.
Here you could hit 16/10 7/4*:
This does remove the spare from your 7 point so that if you cover with a 3, you will be giving up your 7 point.
If your opponent does hit you, and you fail to enter, your opponent will have a good 6 to hit your blot on your 10 point and small numbers to cover the blot on their 4 point.
If you are going to hit, it would be good to keep your checkers further back in the outfield so they are safer if your opponent hits your blot on your 4 point. Then to hit a second checker they will only do that with an indirect shot, rather than a direct shot. Consider 13/4*:
This move leaves 3 blots, which could easily be scooped up if your opponent hits the checker on your 4 point and you fail to hit back. If this happens you will lose a high number of Gammons because you could have 2 or 3 checkers on the bar, plus you will have 5 crossovers to get your checkers on your 8 and 7 points into your board.
Both of the hitting moves risk losing a lot of Gammons.
Do you need to hit at all? Consider 16/10 13/10:
A broken prime is a very powerful structure. Your opponent will only escape if they roll a 5, and even then, if they roll 51, they will be coming out to a double shot. If they roll 52 or 53, they will be coming out to a single shot. There are only good rolls are 55, 54 and 56 – five rolls or 14% of the time.
If they do not roll one of those five numbers, you will have 4 builders aimed at them plus you will have pick and pass numbers.
If you think of this in terms of gameplan, you are behind in the race so your gameplan should be a more priming one. This is the correct move.
Grant lives in Nelson, New Zealand and has been playing backgammon for over 30 years. He is the only non-Australian to win the Australian Champs, and won it twice in 2015 and 2106. He has won the New Zealand Champs 4 times, come 2nd six times and 3rd three times. He teaches Backgammon through the Backgammon Learning Center. He was lucky enough to take lessons with Stick Rice for many years. When not playing Backgammon, he is a computer consultant. He has been married to Jackie for 40+ years. For more information, see Grant’s Puzzles or Buy the e-Book!