Match To Five Points – Game 1, Round 0

Here is the initial position for the first game

Actual play: gj → 6d

Spider GM Comments: Not the most difficult decision (both cube and card-play) but I believe now is the best time to sanity-check there are no misunderstandings before things get interesting. If there is something you’re unsure about, please drop a comment!

<position omitted>

Actual play: gf (trivial) → 5c

Spider GM Comments: We’ve passed the first hurdle with no rule clarifications needed about the mechanics of the doubling cube. Game on!

<position omitted>

Actual play: gh (trivial) → 9s

Spider GM Comments: Tricky decision – do we take the in-suit build, go for the empty column or try some delaying option? 😊

Actual play (March 20th, score = 497): je,ge → 7c

Spider GM Comments: I like this play. Knowing the last card in column 7 is a Good Thing even if we don’t get the space immediately.

<position omitted>

Actual play: hg → 0h (trivial coin-flip)

<position omitted>

Actual play: hj  → 4s (trivial)

Spider GM Comments: Given this is a 5-point match instead of single game, I am happy to speed things up with one decision per day (if something gets in the way I will let you know). Again you might wanna vote for a move sequence resulting in multiple turnovers – assuming only bad cards turn up and thus avoiding the need to reconsider.

Actual play (March 21st, score = 493): ib → Ad

< position omitted>

Actual play (score = 492): gb,hb → Qd

Spider GM Comments: Bart/Bug have already agreed on multiple turnovers assuming bad cards turn up.

<position omitted>

Actual play (score = 490): jh (trivial)→ 3d

< position omitted>

Actual play (score = 489): jb (trivial) → 4c

<position omitted>

Actual play (score = 487): eh,ae→ 3h

Actual play (score = 485) ad → 0c

Spider GM Comments: Hard to argue with any of these decisions. Lots of turnovers but no empty column yet …

Actual play (March 22, Score = 485): deal

Spider GM Comments: IM Bug has kindly requested we deal more Eights and Fives. The move “ea” was possible but Bug/Bart saw no advantage in doing so.

End of Round 0

21 thoughts on “Match To Five Points – Game 1, Round 0

  1. Tag, I’m it. I was sort of looking forward to and at the same time dreading this moment, and it comes on the opening deal !!

    Master Chi-Yuen hasn’t whacked me with his half meter long slide rule since before I whacked my patio with da’ back of my head back in Dec. So I’m sure the dorsal side of my hand is healed up enough to return to my painful Maverick ways.

    I have continued my binge playing and have made extensive use of Esteemed Scholar Bart’s “(insert card rank)-s is cheap” trick. And I will also confess to splitting many established in suit builds. I can hear that yellow fiberglass on the back of my hand as I type.

    So let me give you my results to date. If TLTR jump to the bottom for my actual post.

    Playing Microsoft Solitaire Collection at the Expert level, which is the easiest level, I am currently at 42 wins in 46 tries. I find this hard to believe and I was THERE. I cleared all data before starting so Mr. Gates thinks I am a nubie and I truly believe that he gives easier games up front so as to aid in his Data Mining. I am going to lose Game #47, I am just too stubborn to admit it just yet.

    The other program that I am currently playing is “Win7 Games for Win10”. This is what I was playing before I came here. But I was playing Two Suit back then and was firmly convinced Four Suit was a bad joke. I am at 19 wins in 49 tries, something I would have said impossible two years ago.

    In a few games when I reach 50 each I will switch to the same level Master Chi-Yuen plays here, Microsoft Solitaire Collection at Random level. A nice 50 or 100 game run will let us know if I am truly playing better or if I have just learned the rhythm of how to play the other two PuppetMasters.

    Long digression for a short post.

    So here is the new and improved me. The obvious here is ag gaining an in suit build. But Sixes, Sevens and Jacks is cheap. No Fives available, so it is move a Six or move the Ten. I would move a six to Column 2 because we would be doing damage to a column with five turnovers instead of four turnovers which would occur if we moved the Ten onto either of the Jacks or covered the Dia 7 with a Six.

    So my vote is hb.

    No cube play.


    1. No need to apologise for long digressions. The best way to give me a warm fuzzy feeling is to wax eloquent about how your play improved compared to many years ago. There is no requirement for your story to be factually correct 😊 but I have no reason to disbelieve you


  2. My answer before reading IM Bug’s:

    “no doubling activity.

    gj, ten on jack because jacks are cheap (choose jack of hearts because keep contrasting colors for a suit break if there’s no other reason to choose).
    aj, in-suit club move
    hb, if, move the 2 6s onto the 7s.

    I should think those moves would be obvious, and think it’s fine if GM makes some other pretty-much-obvious decisions based on what comes up.”

    So I chose to propose several moves instead of just one. I don’t mind Bug’s initial move, though slightly prefer my own. We will very likely make almost all of these moves anyway. But I do not think his reasoning is exactly right. Sevens aren’t exactly cheap, because we have two of them and two sixes to go on them, so the market is even. However, choosing one of them before most other moves is good because of flexibility. But receiving jacks are not just flexible but actually cheap because there is only one 10 looking for a home.

    I’d rather make a bunch of reasonably obvious moves at once to move things along. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone doubling unless three kings and three aces came up or something.


    1. “Sevens aren’t exactly cheap, because we have two of them and two sixes to go on them, so the market is even”, EXCELLENT! I officially concur and give a slight edge to gj.

      And I am happy to know that there is someone else who plays contrasting colors “all else being equal”. Perhaps I knew that before, but I am finding out many brand new things that I knew before, so my head thumping has sort of given me a new childhood, full of previously known discoveries.


  3. No doubling.

    I vote for going for the empty column over the in-suit move, and think it’s a clear choice. I would however perform one adjustment first:


    We wanted to put suit breaks in different-color suits when all else is equal, but all else is no longer equal. There’s a tiny advantage to putting two spades in the same column rather than 3 separate suits we would get if we built JT9 over in j, so move the 10 over before putting the 9 on it.


  4. I want to continue to attack Col 8, but don’t wish to contaminate Col 7 just yet.

    So I would take a TurnOver in Col 9 with the thought that if no help, I will propose breaking the run in Col 7 by covering the Club 6 which now resides in Col 2 with the Club 5 followed by the Spade 4 from Col 8

    .ib, then if no help, gb,hb

    Is breaking this three card Club run any different than passing up an InSuitBuild earilier? Other than that we have two cards in Col 8 while when we passed up the InSuitBuild there was only one unexposed card in Col 7?


  5. Before reading the bug’s take…

    “Keeping g atomic is a high priority.

    ib — gets a turnover, while covering that 7 is no big loss as we have much better things to do if an 8 comes up.

    gb, hb — get a turnover in our next-smallest stack. Break the 5 of clubs off its in-suit sequence to keep column g atomic. Column b is taking on the shape of a junk column.

    ej, ae — naturally the 9 of spades belongs over on column j again so we can make an in-suit 9-T club connection. We are losing by this sequence the ability to put a jack on a queen if one comes up, which is why to delay it.

    Working towards another empty column is a high priority, and the cost of doing “ib” first is if a 6 came up in column h, we would have used up our only place to put it. However, we’ve already seen 3 6s, and the cost is going to be making both columns b and f non-atomic if as expected we end up moving the 6 from column i soon anyway. With my plan column f remains atomic too.”

    Now, looking at IMBug’s post, it looks like we agree on the first few moves! What follows is not a disagreement. I just went one step further than he did.


    1. Blockchain has been updated. We got more than the minimum guaranteed turnovers but now it’s time to deal a new round (or do some last minute tidies)


    1. Blockchain has been updated. We got more than the minimum guaranteed turnovers but now it’s time to deal a new round (or do some last minute tidies)


  6. Where to put comments in this tree is not obvious to me, but here I’m going back to “top level”.

    I do not suggest doubling.

    I realize I know the mechanics of how the doubling cube works, but don’t have much idea of the strategy behind it. When I read something like this, my eyes glaze over:

    I guess you’re supposed to double when you’re a certain amount ahead, and you can be correct in accepting it while the doubler was also correct in doubling, but getting specific about that has me stumped. I don’t know if GM cares to give a best strategy for doubling along the lines of “If you think your percentage of winning is x or higher, then double.” It would be nice. At least we have no gammons or backgammons to complicate things here.

    In this position the only thing worth considering is ea. Any benefit or cost is tiny.

    To explore this a bit, first assume that the chances of all ranks coming up are equal. In that case, I think we should move it, and my reasoning is this. Being atomic, column a is a better chance for getting a space than column e. Suppose that part of a sequence for exposing column a involves finding a home for a 9. If the only place to put it is “a” that’s bad. But if “a” ends with 9 and what we need to move is an 8, then there is another possible place to put that 8 aside from column “a”. However, there are 8 8s unseen but only 6 9s unseen. If the receiving 9s are in other columns, the chances are higher that we can get an 8 out of the way without junking up column a. But getting an 8 also means that we will be most focused on clearing column g instead, and so… There may be other considerations too, but it’s all too complicated for me to work out.

    Left to my own devices, just deal, but if IM Bug says to move the 9 of clubs over, accept that before dealing.


    1. Hi Bart, I forgot to mention – your overall understanding of when to double is correct. Like me, my eyes glaze over at some of the multi-dimensional calculus of advanced strategy. Remember that my name is SpiderGM not BackgammonGM. I would definitely struggle with estimating if a particular game state in Backgammon has a winning percentage of 25% or more.

      The most important thing to remember is every decision is a cube decision. Some Backgammon players often get so wrapped up in the checker-play they forget entirely about the cube. Needless to say, this is not a winning strategy against expert players nor a road to long-term improvement. If you double incorrectly then at least you have the chance to learn from your mistake.

      Having no gammons or backgammons does indeed make life easier. The only thing to watch out for is a redouble if the losing side manages to turn the tables. If you accept any redouble in a 5-point match, that doesn’t leave much room for error!


  7. Without looking to see if Esteemed Scholar Bart has posted yet, let me say this about this:

    Eights-n-Fives! Eights-n-Fives! Eights-n-Fives!
    Loves Us Some

    Cards Please.


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