Give It a Number
by Phil Simborg and Stu Katz, 1994
Phil Simborg
If you're like most of us, you're sick of hearing your friends tell you about how they lost a match or game that just "couldn't be lost". Aren't you tired of hearing about someone's opponent rolling 6-2 from the bar to win the match? Or "dancing twice in a row on a one-point board"? Or "the idiot rolled double one's."

We got sick of hearing it from both others and each other, so we developed a system (code) to save time. This code has added greatly to our lives, so I thought I would share it with all of you so that, in the future, when you're telling me about "the disgusting, almost impossible way" you lost the match, you can spare us the details.

It's simple: we've simply numbered all the typical situations, and now we only have to say to each other, "He rolled a No. 4." Or whatever. Here's the code:

No. 1 You danced once or more on a one or two point board.
No. 2 He rolled the only number that hits you to win the game.
No. 3 He rolled many doubles in the bear off and beat you.
No. 4 You were down to 2 or 3 checkers on your ace, rolled a one, got hit and lost.
No. 5 You couldn't roll a number higher than a 3 for four and had to break your prime; but you should still have one and he rolled jokers.
No. 6 He made horrible plays, while you played like a master, but he rolled out of his kazoo and beat you anyway.
No. 7 He took the worst double you've ever seen and was sure to get gammoned, but he rolled jokers and won.
No. 8 You rolled the perfect roll to win the game but it was cocked dice.
No. 9 You know he rolled a 2-1 but he swore it was a 1-1 and the tournament director made you flip a coin and you lost and you lost.
No. 10 He went to the bathroom and you're sure he either ran to his car and used Jellyfish or he talked to Jake and found out what to do.

So in the future, don't bother us with long, sad stories ... Just give us the number. And by the way, if we respond "No. 1 Response," that means: "What makes you think I give a damn how you lost your stupid match?"

Phil Simborg is a fulltime backgammon player and teacher.
You can contact Phil at: or visit his
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