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Naccel 2 -- post #12x (applying N57)

Posted By: Nack Ballard
Date: Sunday, 14 March 2010, at 4:10 p.m.

This is a special Naccel post following post #12. It is in response to Lucky Jim's recent post.

The following is position 460 from Robertie’s 501 Essential Backgammon problems.

 ' ' '1X3X4X1X1X2X1X1X '

 ' ' '2O2O4O2O3O '2O '1X


Blue: Most of it is a poof except one spare on n2 and two checkers on n4. The checker on n2 can go forward two pips for a count of 0 and one of the checkers om n4 can go back two pips for a count of 1 that just leaves the remaining checker on n4 needing to go 4 pips forward for a total count of 1(4)

Good. You poofed the five-prime (plus two n0 spares), leaving only the three checkers below (left-hand diagram) to count:

 ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' '

 ' ' ' ' ' ' '1O '2O ' '

Split 1, plus 4p1(4)

 ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' '

 ' ' ' ' ' ' '1O '1O ' '


The blot plus one of the n4 checkers is a "split" (which you can review here), for a count of 1. For further reference/imprinting, I have isolated the split in the right-hand diagram.

Split 1, plus the 4 pips (from n4), produces a count of 1(4).

You understood the essence of the split when you shifted (2 pips outwards) to the Supers. I'm just making the point that shifting is an unnecessary step once you know/remember the split.

From White's point of view:


 ' ' '1X3X4X1X1X2X1X1X '

 ' ' '2O2O4O2O3O '2O '1X

White: I may not have counted this as well as I could as I have two separate mini pip counts.

The checkers in the outer board are a six sym around the n3 for a count of 3.(I have to confess that I didn't see this immediately). I moved one checker on n-1 to n-2 to create a block for a count of -1 and then moved the checker on n7 one pip forward for an offsetting count of 1. This gives a total count of 3(2).

Great. You counted White's sym3 (i.e., six checkers around n3), then used a motion poof for the rest: n7 to S1 and n-1 to n-2 is a total of 2 pips of forward motion that creates a (block-1 vs S1) poof.

(Combining a motion from two areas isn't ideal but it's fine as long as it's in a single effort.)

I'll assume that the other readers can see the sym3 in White's outer board now that you've pointed it out (if not, review here), so I've removed it to more clearly show off your block/S1 poof (after the 2-pip forward motion) -- see the left-hand diagram below. The four checkers on S0 are ignored, as always. [If you don't know what a block is, review here.]

Block/S1 Poof0

 ' ' '2X2X4X ' ' ' ' '1X

 ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' '

(Blot) Midpoof0

 ' ' '2X3X3X ' ' ' ' ' '

 ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' '1X

You can poof a blot on the midpoint with any formation of -7 pips in the inner board, and over time you may learn some as instant counts. The most common and easily spotted are those with a squad of -1 count plus an extra checker on n-1.

Starting from the main position (as you did), with a motion of 2 pips from n0 to n-2, I created a (blot) midpoof in the right-hand diagram. (Again, the sym3 has been removed.) If you happen to know this midpoof (as I did), you gain the further advantage of localizing your 2-pip motion instead of splitting it up (1 pip inside and 1 pip outside). This is just an advanced detail, though the glimpse might interest you.

Summary: Blue is 1(4), and White is 3(2). Blue leads by 10 pips. I'll repeat the main position:

 ' ' '1X3X4X1X1X2X1X1X '

 ' ' '2O2O4O2O3O '2O '1X

Clearly Blue is leading the race because Blue has a lower score to add to 90 if you were trying to generate a traditional pip count.

Blue leads 1(4) to 3(2). Forget about the 90; you are not burdened with it when you use Naccel!

What I am not sure about is how you would then use Nack 57 to decide if Blue should double and if White should take if doubled. Would Nack mind going very slowly through the approach you would take over the board if you were either blue considering whether to double and if you were white deciding whether or not to accept a double using Nack 57?

Chase's answer is exactly correct. To the leader's count, you:

a) Convert to pips
b) Add 57
c) Double
d) Find nearest square root.

For your position:

Step a): Blue's count of 1(4) = 10 pips.
Step b): Add 57, comes to 67.
Step c): Double; that comes to 134.
Step d): Find nearest sqrt, which is 12 (because 134 is closer to 144 than to 121).

In summary: 1(4) ... 10 ... 67 ... 134 ... 12.

Subtract 3 to get the minimum doubling point, or subtract 2 to get the minimum redoubling point. So, here, the take point of 12 means that Blue should double with a lead of 9 or redouble with a lead of 10.

[For more on the Nack57 formula, which works for both traditional pipcount and Naccel, review here.]

Blue leads 1(4) to White's 3(2), a difference of 10 pips. In short, Blue has the necessary 10-pip lead to redouble, and for White (who can take even when down 12 pips) it is an easy take down only 10 pips.

Your homework is to come up with another racing position where one of the cube actions is close and walk through an N57 calculation. If you stumble, I'll be there to catch you! (Hint: give one player a lead of about 10 pips; those tend to generate close decisions.)

More generally when counting –

Should you count the side you think is behind or ahead first or just count your own position first?

My answers will apply to pretty much any pipcount system.

I don't feel strongly there is a best way, but consistency minimizes confusion. Personally, I count myself, then the opponent.

Do you have tips for retaining one score as you then count the other?


Try this: Keep the supe count on your left hand: One finger = 1 (or 6), two fingers = 2 (or 7), etc. Keep the baby pips on your right hand (works well for Naccel as these can only be 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5). For a negative number, turn your hand over. (If, for example, resting your hand on your knee is your chosen "natural" position, do that when the count is positive and turn your hand facing up when the count is negative.)

So, here, Blue's count is 1(4). Rest 1 finger of your left hand on your left knee (with the others clenched into a fist) and rest 4 fingers of your right hand on your right knee. With that safety net in place, count White.

If, OTB, you prefer to keep the count on only one hand, for the supe count you can either subdivide your thigh into a dozen or so different areas or you can use the board itself. For example, resting 4 fingers in front of your n1 point means 1(4).

The faster that your counting becomes, the less you will need the "handy count" technique. The reason you are losing track now is that you are expending so much time and energy on the mechanics of the second player's count. Once you quickly and easily spot poofs and syms rather than working to find them, your second count will follow your first at such a rapid pace that you will wonder why you ever had trouble retaining the first count.

Are there any other tips for tackling this other than obviously practice, practice and practice!

Can't think of anything else at the moment. There aren't many steps; just like anything else you have to practice enough so that you know by second nature what comes next. Simply reading the Naccel posts without practicing while continuing to count in traditional/Cluster ("see... this still works...") is a hopeless recipe for improving one's speed.

Happy counts!


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