#1. What's your cube action ?

As a general rule, when the opponent has a 5 point board and is threatening to close us out it should usually be a drop. We need a LOT of counter priming to even consider taking it. In this particular position we basically only have a 3-prime (8pt, 7pt and 6pt). Your 10pt (15 in the diagram) does block Red’s 21pt anchor, but he can play his 6s from the 22pt so effectively we only have a 3-prime. If we improve your counter-priming a bit (upgrade from 3-prime to 4-prime) now it becomes a take. Note that Red still has only 5s and 6s to escape the prime just like in your original position but having a compact 4-prime helps a lot and turns it from huge pass to a solid take. So as some general rule to pick up from here I would say that at least a 4-prime is required to even consider taking dangerous position like this one (where we’re about to get closed out). In general, prime vs prime positions are very difficult even for the best players in the world and small changes in position can completely change the evaluation. Good idea is to play around with an original position and try out different variants. No need to memorize anything, but just exposing yourself to many different scenarios will help develope and fine-tune your feeling for these kind of positions.

#2. What's your cube action ?

We certainly have a decent position: racing lead, more advanced anchor, stronger board, however is that enough to cube?

In order to find a correct cube, it’s not enough to just have a good position, we also have to have enough rolls after which your opponent can’t take a cube anymore. Or in other words, we need to have some tangible threats.

Ask yourself: what are my rolls after which opponent can’t take anymore? Imagine some of your best rolls in this position and ask yourself can he still take after I roll them.

Some that come to mind are 55, 44, 51 and that’s about it. Not that many REALLY good rolls and even after these rolls he still has a take.

Let’s check 55 which looks really strong:

Still a huge take even if 55 is rolled.

Problem with cubing is that we give up the ownership of the cube to our opponent and if position turns around we will be facing a recube. For that reason we can’t just cube whenever we have a good position, but we also have to be sure we have at least some really good rolls after which he wouldn’t be able to take. How many rolls is required is very position dependent, usually at least 9-12 really strong combinations.

(note that when counting combinations doubles count as 1 and non-doublet rolls count as 2).


#3. What's your cube action ?

This is a very important thing to get right. Backgammon games often end up as either holding games or races and for races in particular there is a simple formula to use which will allow us to get nearly all of them right.

(1) We cube when your pip count advantage is 10% of your pip count MINUS 2.

(2) Our last point of take is when our pip deficit is 10% of our opponent’s pip count PLUS 2.


#4. What's your cube action ?

First we need to know our pip count which is 100. As our rule 1 says: 10% of 100 is 10. 10 minus 2 is 8.

So we need to lead by at least 8 pips to have a cube. And this is exactly what we have here!


#5. What's your cube action ?

Our position is so strong already that it’s in fact already a pass!

For doubling decisions, I would recommend using PRaT method.

Just look at 3 critera: position, race and threats.

If we are ahead in 2 out of 3 areas it’s quite likely to be a cube.

If we are ahead in 3 out of 3 areas opponent might already have a pass (if the advantages are small it could still be a take).

Let’s see how this would work on our example:

Position: we have a much stronger homeboard and we have an advanced anchor. Red’s back checker is trapped behind the 5-prime. Red’s structure is not that bad but overall it’s clear we’re ahead. So PLUS for position.

Race: we’re leading by 12 pips. PLUS for race.

Threats: We have a huge threat of pointing on his back checker and winning a gammon. Any 5 or 4 followed by dance will be deadly. PLUS for threats.

We’re significantly ahead in all 3 areas which is why correct cube decision is double/pass.


#6. What's your cube action ?

Let’s look at Position, Race and Threats.

Positionally we’re not doing that great here, 2 checkers disconnected from the rest of the army, open 6 point and all of our checkers in our homeboard (no priming available). If Red wasn’t on the bar he would stand better. So MINUS for position.

Race – up 70 pips. Huge PLUS.

Threats – Winning a gammon if Red continues to dance or if we pick&pass the 2nd checker. Definite PLUS.

This time we’re leading in 2 out of 3 areas making it a Double/Take according to PRaT rule of thumb. XG approves.


#7. What's your cube action ?

Position – We have a very strong prime with opponent’s checker trapped behind. This fact alone is enough to make us big positional favorites. Note that opponent is not even on the edge of the prime which makes it lot worse for opponent. Also Red has 3 blots in the outfield. Big PLUS for position.

Race – We are down in the race so MINUS for race.

Threats – Hitting any of Red’s blots would be deadly. Also our ever-present blitzing potential against his back checker. Big PLUS for threats.

We’re leading in 2/3 areas which makes it a Double/Take.

As a side note, it should be mentioned that it’s only a small take because of the score. At even score Take is much more clear.