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DQ: The safe is better than the bold

Posted By: Timothy Chow
Date: Saturday, 23 February 2013, at 10:25 p.m.

In Response To: DQ: The safe is better than the bold (leobueno)

I'm not sure what the right 3 is but I'm pretty confident that 8/4* is the right 4.

I can see why Magriel's criteria might be confusing here because you have the same number of checkers back, no anchor, and the weaker board. That would seem to signal a safe play, such as 15/8.

While Magriel's criteria are extremely valuable, I generally don't start my assessment of a position by using them. I start by trying to look at the main features of the position and what my main problems and goals are. Then Magriel's criteria can help me decide between candidate plays. After all, "bold" doesn't just mean leaving shots willy-nilly. It means making a play that furthers your goals in spite of leaving extra shots. To assess boldness you therefore need to know what your goals are first.

In this position the biggest feature of the position is White's five-prime. That is a huge asset for White and a huge problem for us. We have to figure out how best to combat that threat or else we'll get crushed. Generally, the best way to fight a prime is to counter-prime. And the best way to start counter-priming with this roll is 8/4*.

Now that we've gotten this far, we can start to think about Magriel's criteria. We want to play 8/4*, but is it too bold? White's board is a little stronger than ours but not by much. Counter-priming is so important that this slight contra-indication against boldness is not going to be enough to dissuade us from 8/4*.

Now the choice of 3 is more difficult and maybe White's stronger board means we can't afford the boldest play of 13/10. Not sure. I'm inclined to play 13/10 anyway just because, as I said, counter-priming is so critical here. But anyway, hopefully this helps you understand how to reconcile Magriel's criteria with this position.

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