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Advanced Backgammon Strategies - Using the Doubling Cube
Although, the Doubling Cube is unknown to most of the backgammon casual players, it is an essential tool in advanced backgammon strategies and in money matches and tournaments.
This cube is designated for raising the stakes of the match and its introduction to the backgammon world is one of the main reasons for the rise of popularity of backgammon.
The cube has 6 faces and the numbers written on it- 2, 4, 8,16,32,64.
At the beginning of the match, the doubling cube is placed beside the board or on the Bar between the players.
Any player, who feels at any stage of the match, that he is leading sufficiently in the match, before throwing his dice, may suggest to double the stakes by placing the doubling cube with the number 2 facing up.
For example player A decided to raise the stakes.
Player B, his opponent, the player the offer is given to, after reviewing his situation, has two options:
He may refuse the offer and thus lose the game and one unit.
He may agree to double the stakes, and in this case the match continues with higher stakes.
Player B, who agreed to the offer, is now the owner of the doubling cube, meaning only him (player B) has the option to double the stakes again at any stage of the game.
If player B decides to do so, he has to do it on his turn before throwing his dice.
Now he takes the dice and places it so that the number 4 is facing up.
Player A, has now the same two options, only this time if he declines the offer he will lose two units, and if he agrees the stakes will rise to 4 times the original and the doubling cube returns to his control.
The cube can pass from player to player, each time raising the stakes.
The Crawford rule-
If you are playing a game until N- points, and your opponent is leading and reaches N-1 points, meaning he is short one point from winning the game, you are not allowed to use the Doubling cube in the following game, however, you can use the dice in the following matches if the game continues.
The reason is the weaker player will always want to raise the stakes because he has nothing to lose anymore and we want keep the use of the dice in fairness of both sides.
The Jacoby rule-
This rule is used in money games and never in match games. It decides that a backgammon or gammon may not be scored as such only if the cube has been passed and accepted. The reason behind this rule is speeding up.
The Holland rule-
The Holland rule is used in match games and decides that in post-Crawford games, the trailer can only double after both sides have played two rolls. The rule makes the free drop more valuable to the leading player but generally just confuses the issue.
Unlike the Crawford rule, this rule isn't popular, and is rarely used today.
The beavers, raccoons, otters and any other animals in the backgammon game-
These animals appear only, if wanted by both sides, in money games and never in match games.
If player A, doubles the stakes, and player B believes A is wrong and he (player B) has the advantage, B can double the stakes and keep the doubling cube on his side. For example, if A makes the initial double and puts the doubling cube on 2, B can say "Beaver", turn the cube to 4 and keep the cube at his side. If A believes B is wrong he can say "Raccoon" and turn the cube to 8. All this time, B remains the owner of the doubling cube. If B wishes to raise the stakes once more, he only needs to say another silly name (the animal's name is a controversy among players) and so on.
Chouette is a version of backgammon for more than 2 players. One of the players is the "Box" and plays against the rest of the group on a single board.
Another player is the "Captain" of the group, who throws the dice and makes the moves for the group playing against the box.
If the Box wins, the Captain goes to the back of the line and the next player becomes the Captain of the team. If the Captain wins, he becomes the new Box, and the old Box goes to the end of the line.
The rules regarding the ability of the group to consult with the Captain changes from
version to version. In some versions of the Chouette the group can freely give advice to the Captain, and in other versions, consulting is strictly forbidden.
The compromised version is the most popular- consulting is legitimate only after the dice have been thrown.
Originally, Chouette was played with a single die .The only decisions that players other than the Captain were allowed to make on their own was concerning the takes: If the Box had doubled, each player on the team could take or drop independently. Today, a multiple-cube Chouette is more popular; each player on the team has his own cube, and all doubling, dropping, and taking decisions are made independently by all players.
About the Author: Ran B. is a proffesional backgammon player and writer.
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