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Here is some really simple and important knowledge of how the cube works at
the end of the match.

The Crawford Rule is that the cube may not be turned the first game that either player is within one point of winning the match. The reason for this is that the underdog would gain such an advantage by flipping the cube (he has nothing to lose) that we make him earn this advantage by winning an undoubled game. To put it another way, one-away two-away (5-6 in a 7 pt. match) is almost a fifty fifty proposition without the Crawford Rule.

Now suppose that you have won the Crawford Game, and earned this advantage. Use it! If your opponent is one-away, and the match is post-Crawford, double at your first opportunity! If you win, good! If you lose by two instead of one, who cares? Will your (worthy) opponent (WO) take or drop? I’ll tell you in a minute. First let us talk about two-away two-away.

Two-away two-away (5-5 in a 7 pt. match), is a special score. You should double immediately. Your WO should take. Maybe, if you are a really strong player, and playing someone not as strong, it's ok to wait, a little while, carefully watching for certain things. What things? You should double immediately. It will never be wrong. (No, Never? Well, Hardly Ever!)

Now about whether your WO will take or drop, post-Crawford. (Or you, if you happen to be one-away.) If the match score is one-away two-away post-Crawford, and your WO, leading, wins the opening roll, you will of course double. He will look at the cube, there in the center of the board, and say to himself, “Self, if I take this, I must win this game or lose the match. If I drop it, I must win the next game. But I might win the opening roll next game. Let's try that.” This is known as the free drop. It only occurs post-Crawford, when the underdog is an even number of points away.

Should you be trailing in a match, and find yourself holding a cube which would give your opponent the win, turn it over and hand it back. You may even want to take a cube you would otherwise drop, to do this.

Leading at the match score leading two-away, four-away, it is almost never correct to double if either side can win a gammon. When one gets down to the bear-off, one should be very careful when considering a double as your opponent may take and fire the cube right back.

These are the basic things to know. The relationship between the cube and the match score is covered in detail in How to Play Tournament Backgammon, by Kit Woolsey, 2000, available many places, including Carol Joy Cole’s excellent Backgammon a la Carte.

Kevin Heacox

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
2019 Top 25 April 18, 2019 12:44 AM Sean G.
2018 Ohio Valley Challenge Cup April 2, 2019 8:10 PM Sean G.
2019 Indiana Challenge Cup March 9, 2019 10:49 PM Sean G.
END OF MATCH DOUBLING May 23, 2018 11:41 PM Kevin H.
2017 Ohio Valley Challenge Cup May 1, 2018 7:36 PM Sean G.
2018 Top 25 December 27, 2018 5:52 PM Sean G.
2018 Indiana Challenge Cup February 25, 2018 5:38 AM Sean G.
Bloomington Backgammon Club June 21, 2017 9:23 AM Donna L.
2016 Ohio Valley Challenge Cup April 27, 2017 9:30 PM Sean G.
2017 Top 25 January 3, 2018 11:10 PM Sean G.
2017 Indiana Challenge Cup April 4, 2017 5:25 PM Sean G.
Backgammon Etiquette July 31, 2018 7:49 PM Sean G.

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