I am working hard to remember all of the second roll responses. This has been on my to-do list for about 4 years so it is about time that I actually did it. I am definitely going to have them perfected in time for the London Open.
There are a number of reasons for memorising the 2nd roll responses. I think that the three most important of these are:
- The opening rolls happen a lot – if you are making even small mistakes then they will add up;
- Learning how the responses change due to small changes in the position develops positional awareness;
- The opening responses form a body of reference positions that can inform the rest of your checker play.
As part of my learning I recently tested myself on 609 opening responses (29 common ways of playing the opening roll multiplied by the 21 possible reply rolls).
Unfortunately I got 60 plays wrong. (I count a play as wrong if I don’t recognise that there is an equally good play as well as if I miss the best play).
Analysis of the plays that I got wrong showed that 11 of the errors that I made were playing double 3s.
Realising that I could get 20% closer to my goal of zero response roll errors just by learning to play 33 properly I set about creating some rules for the 33 response roll.
They are reproduced below.
- If the opponent has split with the 6 make the 7-point on his head
- If the opponent has split and you cannot hit, or he has made a point, then play 24/21 (2) 13/10 (2)
- If the opponent has played diversified down* or if he has slotted from the 6-point then play 24/21 (2) 8/5 (2)
- Otherwise play 8/5 (2) 6/3 (2)
* Diversified down means either 43 played 13/10 13/9 or 32 played 13/11 13/10
There are 4 exceptions to these rules that need to be learnt by rote.
- Exception 1: Opponent plays 65: 24/13. You should play 24/21 (2) 13/10 (2)
- Exception 2: Opponent plays 63: 24/15. You should play 13/10* (2) 6/3 (2)
- Exception 3: Opponent plays 54: 13/9 13/8. You should play 24/21 (2) 6/3 (2)
- Exception 4: After 41: 13/9 6/5 you can play 24/21(2) 6/3 (2) as well as 24/21(2) 8/5 (2)
I think that these rules are reasonably easy to remember. They have helped me eliminate all of my errors in playing 33 as a response to the opening roll. Now I just need to work on those other 49 mistakes…
Photo courtesy of Emre Can.