2010-08-28 Money 4-3/Answer

First, take a look at EX's play, which illustrates what is known as the phantom double hit, then scroll down and read some insights from the experts:

Stick Rice's evaluation of this play:

I like to believe I would have found this play OtB not because I'm a genius but because when looking for the right play you run out of palatable options.  Key features of the position:

  • The race is close.  This is always worth noting in the early game and I list it first not because it's the most important factor but because it's always the first thing I remind myself of.
  • We have the better board.
  • We have an anchor.
  • Our opponent has no additional inner board points.
  • Our opponent if left alone will make some noticeable improvement next turn with ~5/6ths of his numbers.
  • Our opponent has a disgusting blot in his inner board. 
  • Our opponent has already escaped one of his back men meaning his primary goal is to escape the other.  He cannot anchor with only one man back.
  • We have 11 men in the zone.
I think it's clear there's no point in moving the back men at this time and any play that involves breaking the midpoint is too concessionary.  Given those two facts if we hit with the 4 there is only one logical 3.  If we choose not to hit we allow our opponent too much freedom to get something accomplished.  He will do something constructive either escaping the back man, making a new offensive point in front of our anchor, or covering the blot on his ace point.  The time to act is now.  Keep him off balance.  By hitting and double slotting ideally we get away with it and getting away with it can have many meanings here.

We could be missed entirely, great scenario.  In missing us he also could fan 1/9th of the time.  Guess what, he he fans I cube.  He could enter and hit the blot on our two point which we would gladly exchange if we were able to make our 5pt in return.  He could enter and hit with 62 which jars his position way loose.  Sometimes you make a bold play like this because of the lack of good options.  Every other play seems to compromise your position in some way.  The phantom double hit doesn't in the big scheme of the game.

Dave Rockwell had this to add:

Stick has already covered most of the issues.  Note that there are four checkers on eight point which encourages us to slot.  One of the reason that we often slot the five with an ace in the opening, but seldom slot with a three is the number of checkers on each point. 


Note that the second best play slots the five as well.  I see the slot as the key move here.  The hit is incidental.



I think the key to seeing this move at the board is to see the position as demanding strong agressive moves.  We slot on the second move of the game, why not later?  How would we play 21?  32?  52 in this position?  What's the difference?

And Matt Cohn-Geier had his usual, laconic comments on this play:

"I want to hit and I want to make the 5 point, so I would hit and slot the 5 point."