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What style of play should we adopt against a much weaker player than us?

Started by Pinbacker, March 01, 2015, 05:27:26 PM

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If a strong player (rating: 1800) was playing against a much weaker player (rating: 1400-1500), what style of play should the stronger player adopt?

Between all these possible styles of play, which ones should the stronger player choose (against the much weaker player) ? :
- An aggressive attacking style
- A defensive style
- A risky style
- A safe style
- A fluid style
- Gammon-Go style
- Gammon-Save style
- A Running Game style
- A Back Game style
- A Blocking Game style


There are no styles, there is only good play and bad play! However you certainly can make intelligent choices depending on the relative strength of your opponent, particularly with the cube. Very generally speaking if you are much stronger than your opponent, then you will wish to double a little earlier and take a little later in positions that are difficult to play, conversely doubling later and dropping sooner in skill free positions such as pure races.


Every time I see one of these discussions, I'm reminded of Phil Laak, a regular in our chouettes then and now a successful high stakes poker player.

One of Phil's favorite tactics was intentionally making the inferior play with the idea of turning a subsequent cube from a drop into a take. In one session, Phil held a 2-cube, and chose not to cash a bearoff. His penultimate roll was 3-1 with 2 checkers on his 3 point and 1 on his 2 point. He bore off the 3, and instead of playing the 1 to his 1 point, making his next roll DOUBLE/DROP ( barring his opponent rolling a double ) Phil chose to play 3-2, leaving his final 2 checkers on the 2 point, and turning his next roll into DOUBLE/TAKE.

Phil certainly knew he was making the inferior play. I was never really sure he made plays like this based on an assumption that his opponent was inferior, whether he was bored and just wanted to spice things up, or whether he just made the action junkie's play.

I suppose his play might be right in certain match score situations. Maybe someone with a lot more tourney experience and expertise than I have could comment.

It's kinda hard to confer VILLAGE IDIOT status on Phil, since he's playing in million-dollar tourneys and living with a movie star and the rest of us are playing on FIBS and pulling our pricks.

Robert J Ebbeler


I was thinking that adopting a safe, defensive and gammon-save style would be a good idea against a weaker player because it would slightly reduce the amount of luck in the game.


Your approach is reminiscent of the old PREVENT DEFENSE in pro football. One team is ahead by 2 points in the last 1-2 minutes of the game, opponents have ball possession. The defense are willing to give up short gains but PREVENT long gains that might cost them the game.

After awhile the conventional wisdom became THE PREVENT DEFENSE PREVENTS NOTHING.

While I won't say that your strategy is wrong in all cases, it sounds more like you're playing to NOT LOSE as opposed to PLAYING TO WIN.

Robert J Ebbeler


QuoteI was thinking that adopting a safe, defensive and gammon-save style would be a good idea against a weaker player because it would slightly reduce the amount of luck in the game.

Well that would mean that you would often be making a bad play, because the right play is often attacking, risky and gammon-minded and playing as you suggest would actually make the game easier for your opponent to play. You want to involve him in games that are difficult, where you can outplay him. Besides, there is no evidence that you would actually be reducing the amount of luck by adopting your strategy. You might be reducing the size of a possible swing on any given number, but that isn't the same thing at all and in any event, you would certainly be giving away equity by doing so.
There is one further reason for not adopting a play safe style. It would make the game hideously boring! Look for the best play, stop trying to think in terms of styles!