Phillip Martyn on Backgammon
Mary, 1980
Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine, October 1980
Phillip Martyn on Backgammon I would like to call the attention of your readers to an excellent book that has been available in England since 1976 but has yet to appear on American bookstore shelves. The book is Phillip Martyn on Backgammon (Stanley Paul & Co., Ltd., 3 Fitzroy Square, London, U.K.). Written by one of England's top players, this book is a valuable complement to the more familiar volumes by Magriel, Cooke, and Deyong.

Phillip Martyn provides sound advice on chouettes and the doubling cube for players of all levels. His early chapters on the game's basics give the American player a British perspective on the routine material. His clear, concise treatment of common settlement situations can start a player who normally never settles on the road to understanding and making use of this feature of the game.

My only criticism of the book is its extreme pessimism regarding the merits of backgames. My own fondness for backgames may be warping my judgment a bit, but I cannot accept his unconditional statement that, when in a backgame, one should drop if doubled. In short tournament matches this is sensible, but certainly a well-placed, well-timed backgame is not ordinarily as bad as all that.

If you write to Stanley Paul about this book, remember to ask for a current price. The U.K. price listed on the jacket of my copy is £3.95, but I paid a somewhat higher price for it to the friendly young aficionado of the game who taught me to play. I have not regretted the purchase.

I have read at least 20 backgammon books since I learned to play a year and a half ago in order to be competitive at my club, the Cavendish Club of Philadelphia. After winning their tournament last month, I can say that it has paid off. However, I can also say that there's plenty more for me to learn! Next on my reading list is Barclay Cooke and René Orléan's new book, Championship Backgammon.

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