Festive Chouette

The last chouette of the year at Swavesey threw up a few conundrums, the first being this tricky play with Michael in the box and on the bar, the valiant team, led by your enthusiastic but sometimes wayward correspondent, facing the decision:


After much agonising, dominated by fear of escape (or lack of), I played the dubious “step up and lift” (24/22 5/2), sadly without intercession from my advisors. Michael voiced his relief, and in retrospect 229 stupids is fair punishment for an obvious howler. In order for escape to be more important I would need to be stuck behind a bigger prime with less spares and so on. It’s going to be much easier to run the gauntlet with Michael on the bar, even if he’s kept there by a crushed board.

But perhaps the more surprising thing is that the best play without access to the cube is 7/5 7/4, slotting the 4 (if you own the cube it’s overkill since you will just cash next roll when Michael dances, so the risk is unnecessary). XG wants you to take serious risks to keep that blot on the bar, and if the last checker does gets stuck, roll the prime from the back to keep the wolf from the door a little longer. For exampe, after a dance and a 61, XG wants you to keep a point slotted:


7/1 5/4 is the best move, apparently. In fact it’s a relatively easy position to play once you understand the evil machine’s demands – as always the tricky thing is realising them in the first place!

Of course, backgammon being horribly unfair, Michael danced, the team doubled, and he returned the favour by taking the cubes (418 stupids – plenty of wins but loadsa gammons). That said I can’t remember who won the game, so maybe it turned out all right!

It wasn’t the only dodgy cube decision of the night. Later on I was in the box and thought I’d been pretty clever doubling this one:


Alas, despite the outstanding fours and twos giving 40% market losers, there are plenty of awful sequences with sixes and fives and so on, Big Pandas being particularly bad. Still, maybe you’d get a few drops? 214 stupids to double but 452 to drop, so two takes and one drop would be worthwhile. Sadly I got four takes. Mediocre rolls of 51, 41, 21 followed, strangely played rather well, but then the team puzzled over a 42:


Running is best, hitting one isn’t too bad. Hitting two while stripping the six point is moderately horrible, which is what happened, though despite the aesthetics it’s a paltry 150 stupids.

2 thoughts on “Festive Chouette

    1. Hi Ian
      Our events are organised on the meetup platform, there’s a link in the Events tab.
      The next night at the Golden Hind is Thursday 30th January.

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