ARTICLE #38 [First published in October 1991 Chicago Point]
Learning how to play backgammon is one thing. Learning how to play your opponent is another. In this information-saturated activity, strategic concepts that you develop are often shared by others. This being the case, how can you hope to defeat the competition? Perhaps the answer lies in understanding what dictates a play and then learning how to maneuver around the dogmas.
Backgammon is principally a confrontation based on advantages. Although the dice will expose many of your vulnerabilities, other problems are often self-imposed. Particular weaknesses such as shortsightedness with respect to timing and flexibility are exploitable. More advantage can be gained by elevating the many uncertainties. Selectively probing with intermittent gambles will keep your opponent guessing. This element of unpredictability can cause disarray leading to an unfocused response.
If your opponent is forced to anticipate your wider range of attack, mental fatigue can come into play. This type of erosion will eventually become the ultimate threat. Rather than effectively lose his assets, your opponent might choose a preemptive strike. Should the action be premature, he will be left with an awkward position. That is the vulnerability that is sought.
He has entered the trap. The rest is history. You have just won a battle in positioning, but the war carries on. the question now becomes, “Will the dice allow you a victory, or will they dismantle all of your previous efforts?”
The sins of omission are more terrible than those of commission because the first is a continuing mistake.
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