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I Don't Get The Point

Dear Anchorites:

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written to you. That’s the nature of correspondents – they are fickle. (If you missed the pun, consult a matrimonial attorney, unless you’d prefer to divorce yourself from it, altogether.) Now, I find myself tapping away at the keyboard, responding to the problem featured in your November issue, or rather, responding to its solution.

That solution I can recall and quote in its entirety, and so I shall: “!” That’s it, to which my first response was: “?” I realize that your analyst is my old running buddy Walter Trice. Walter can say more with less than anyone in the game. I would sooner argue with a volume of Robertie’s than a paragraph of Walter’s. But “!”? It is intimidating, to be sure, as I am certain behind its gay façade, that “!” is fully prepared to speak volumes. I am quite convinced that it is a most articulate “!”, with a rapier wit, and penetrating insights. It goes without saying it will come right to the point. Nonetheless, I find that “!” still sadly lacking as an analysis of the November problem.

That being so, since no analysis of Walter’s could be “sadly lacking,” I believe I have determined the true nature of “!” It is a signature. Yes, friends, let me be the first to announce that “!” is henceforth to represent the Analyst formerly known as Trice.

Since the typesetter evidently deleted the problem’s analysis, along with Walter’s (I mean !’s) own announcement of new identity, allow me to supply that analysis. Here is the problem as posed:

I assume this is a money problem, though that detail wasn’t specified. The only detail the typesetter let through was ONE of four candidate moves: 18/7. The other candidates are: 24/13; 24/18, 7/2; and 18/13, 7/1. Two of the plays escape a man, while two focus on pinning in White’s man on the bar.

I know from past, but still bitter experience that the seemingly safe 18/13, 7/1 is not the way to go. It looks like you might get away with this play if you still had access to the cube, but looks are deceiving. Rollouts on both popular bots warn that if Black were to close the board, then double, White should beaver! (Sorry !, I didn’t mean to borrow you. I’ll be more careful.)

The play of 18/7 is quite similar. White is trapped behind a six-prime, and has the potential to come in cracking. Note, though, that even after 4-1, Black has three men behind a 4-prime, and 7 entering numbers crack back. After a number like 6-1, should Black cube from the roof (I haven’t forgotten. I am assuming cube availability.), White will again beaver.

The same bitter experience that warns against closing the board recommends running out with a six. Having run, should we lift the bar-point blot, or go all out with 24/13? If we are in deep water anyway, does it matter if we drown at 8 feet, or 9? While we are somewhat worse off when White throws an ace, we are much better off when White fans. If we rank the plays, then running all the way is best, while coming out and lifting the blot would be a clear mistake. Compared to either running play, 18/7 is definitely a blunder, and closing the board is a whopper. Closing the board is the only play that leaves Black an underdog.

Prime vs. prime problems are tough. One way to resolve this one is to realize that, before the roll, if you asked yourself what you would like to accomplish this roll, at the head of your objectives list would be “escape.” The dice have handed you a 6, the number you most hoped for. It makes no sense now to squander it by doing something other than running.

That’s all for now. Stay in touch. Give my regards to ! Oh, and fire that typesetter.

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