Reverse Woolsey, by Phil Simborg

Most people are familiar with Woolsey's Law.  It's one of the most useful tools in backgammon.  If you are thinking about doubling, first put yourself in your opponent's shoes and ask yourself if you would take or drop.  If you would drop, then it must be a double, unless you are "too good" to double.  If you are sure it's a take, then it still might be a double, but you have to be more careful and look more closely at all the variables (I teach a step-by-step approach to apply at this point). 

But if you are not sure it is right to take or drop, THEN FOR SURE it is a double.  What a wonderful tool!  I learned it myself, directly from Kit Woolsey, when I took lessons from him about 20 years ago.

I've always said that Woolsey's Law has helped my doubling decisions immensely, and I know that most good backgammon players feel the same way.  But I've always lamented that there is no Woolsey's Law to apply that helps you take the cube.

Then it occurred to me:  THERE IS!!!!!

It doesn't come up all the time, but it seems to come up in a lot of complicated positions like back games, holding games, and prime vs. prime games.  Some times I get a cube where I am really at a loss about the position.  It's one of those very complicated and highly volatile positions, and winning or losing might just depend on whether or not my opponent rolls the right number(s) so he doesn't have to crack his board, but if he doesn't roll it, I have a great game.  Or it might depend on whether or not I get lucky and make an anchor or unlucky and keep dancing while he finishes his blitz.

What I have found is that sometimes in those positions, if I "turn the board around" and see what I would do if I were playing the other side, I am often not sure I would even double.  So even though I may be confused or totally baffled about the position, if I would be just as confused and baffled from the other side, that tells me something.  It might tell me I am just an idiot who doesn't understand this kind of position, but it also might tell me that if I am not sure it is right to even double, it is more likely to be right to take!

So there you have it....I call it "Reverse Woolsey's Law."   Simply stated, if you are not sure it is a double, it's probably is a take.

I have used this, and I have started teaching it, and more and more I am finding that this works.  It gets me to take more cubes where I am on the fence, and more times than not, it was right to take, and sometimes it wasn't even a double.

Hope it helps you too!

PS:  After reading this, Stick suggested I provide a sample position that illustrates this approach.  It didn't take me long to find the one below.  I was Blue, and when Red doubled me at this score, I really wasn't sure if I should take or not.  It looked like it could be disaster for me if Red rolls a 6.  But then I turned the board around and asked myself if I was absolutely sure I would double in this position if I was Red, and when the answer came up that I was not sure, then I knew I should take.  (I had another reason to take, also provided by Stick:  "Most prime vs. primes are takes.")