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Back Game Fun

This week’s lesson is all about back games.


Back games are fun.  A well-timed backgammon is delicious, because often you have the cube and you can just sit there happily, lurking around your opponent’s inner board, waiting for the inevitable shot.  Did I say shot?  I mean double-shot…that’s often the reward for a great, well-timed back game. 


I like to think of it like Muhammad Ali’s famous Rope-A-Dope.  There you are, getting hit, getting pummeled.  There’s a hint of a smile on your opponent’s face as he hits your 6th blot.  Then suddenly, he looks down and sees that you are holding 2 or 3 strategic points in his inner board and it dawns on him that it’s going to be very, very tough to bring his checkers in.


Now it’s you that smiles as you see him glance at the other side of the board, where you’ve made your 4, 5, and 6 points and you’ve got more checkers ready to make the 3 point or bar point.  Yes, when he gets hit, you’ve got quite a reception committee waiting for him. 


It’s no small pleasure as you remember putting positions like this into the bots and realize that you win about half the time.  Half the time is quite a few wins for someone holding the cube!  This is getting very exciting.


Finally, the shot comes, and it’s the double-shot you’ve been carefully planning for since you left that first shot 30 rolls ago.  All you have do to now is hit.  It’s actually tempting to turn the cube now, before you roll, because if you wait and hit, it will surely be too late.


Shake.   Shake. Shake.  Miss! 


What?  You missed?  24 shots and you missed!  How could this happen?  All that work and all that planning, and oops, now it not only looks like you don’t win, you are going to get gammoned and lose the match!


And that’s the problem with back games.  Even good ones.  When they work, they’re great, but when they don’t they’re HORRIBLE! 


Yes, it was really fun, and yes, sometimes when you win it’s really, really fun, but remember all the times you didn’t hit?  Remember the times you did hit and he rolled a joker and still won the game?  Remember all those gammons.


That’s the problem with a back game….you’re often giving 2 to 1 odds…you win a game or he wins a gammon.  And that’s the crux of the problem.


So put those emotions away and remember this;  AVOID BACK GAMES!

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