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Risk/Reward Solution

It is very tempting to go for the third checker, but it's wrong.  The risk is not worth the reward.  If you close your board with two checkers on the bar, you are a favorite to win this game about 92 percent of the time.  If you are able to get the third checker and close the board, you become a 97 percent favorite.  But what happens if, instead of getting the third checker, your opponent makes the anchor on your 1 point?   Then you are only about a 75 percent favorite in the game.  So if you try for the third checker and things go well, you gain 5 percent, but if they don't go well, you lose 17 percent.  That means, the odds of getting the third checker as opposed to the odds of white's making the anchor must be about 3-1 for you to take that risk.

The funny thing is, the odds really are better that you will get the third checker, combined with the odds that if you fail you will still prevent White from making the anchor, but not enough to be worth the risk.  So the difference between the two plays in not that great...only about 3 percent according to the ExtremeGammon rollout below.  So if you make the mistake of not closing your board, you have only made a small error.

The reason I have chosen this problem, even though the difference is small, is that the lesson is big.  Backgammon is always about risk/reward. The important thing is to understand this concept and weigh the risks and the rewards every time you make a play.

By the way, don't fee too bad if you got this one wrong, because I did too, and again, it's not a huge error...just 3 percent.  But balancing risk/reward is a huge lesson.



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