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4-2 Answer by John O'Hagan


The best play is 21/17, 15/13.

I asked John if he would have found the right play over the board.  His answer: 



Yes I would have found the right play OTB.
 
21/17 15/13 gives you excellent outfield coverage.  You'll get at least a double shot on all of Blue's escaping 5s and 6s (except 66) and hitting will give you a big advantage in the game.  If Blue does come out and you hit, you'll probably have a cube if he dances and you might even have one if he comes in on the 24-point.   
 
There comes a time in every game when you're supposed to break your anchor and now looks to be the time in this game.  This is not to say that the play's without risk.  Blue could point with 22 or 11 (or maybe pick and pass with 21) and win the game with a dance-come out-dance sequence.  Or he might come out and hit loose with a 62 or 52 and have a claim or real strong double if you dance.  So there is some downside risk with breaking the anchor but it's not severe and is certainly outweighed by the gain from your excellent hitting chances at Blue's fleeing checker.  Notice that you also gain when Blue rolls one of his weaker non-escaping numbers like 44,33, or 43.
 
The alternative plays with this roll are all weaker.  Making the 11-point gives you less control of the outfield and thus fewer ways to hit Blue's straggler.  21/15 gives you good outfield coverage but it allows  Blue to hit with  65.  The other play would be to hit loose with the two and then play 12/8 with the four.  That leaves 5 blots around the board and creates a mostly one-sided gammon threat in favor of the opponent - seldom a good idea.    Red's still the favorite after the loose hit but this is definitely not his best gameplan.  Both sides have 4-point boards but Blue has timing problems.  Hitting loose and leaving all those blots creates a volatile position where a lot of games are decided on the next exchange.  If you hit loose, your timing advantage becomes somewhat irrelevant. In a way you could say that  hitting loose allows Blue to play the game in the one area of the game where he's on even terms  with Red since both sides have 4-point boards.  Red's much better off playing to his strengths (timing and outfield control) rather than a loose hit where both sides have equally strong boards.  Notice that all of Blue's entering 2s are good:  62 escapes and hits twice, 52 hits and comes out, and the other 2s keep his board intact. 

The rollout:



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