Backgammon Articles

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   Miscellaneous Topics  (88 articles)
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Give Me a Break--Give It a Number 
By Phil Simborg and Stu Katz (1994).
"We got sick of hearing our friends tell us about how they lost a game that just couldn't be lost, so we developed a code to save time."
A Coin Toss
By Phil Simborg (1997).
"I pull out a coin and say, 'Heads I take, tails I drop.' The crowd goes crazy, and Jake is of course a visibly perturbed" ... Oh, the fun you can have with the flip of a coin.
Fifteen Ways to Irritate Your Opponent
By Phil Simborg (1994).
We all know that an irritated, distracted opponent will play worse. Here's some "advanced" tips for you. (Use with caution.)
Simborg's Laws of Backgammon
By Phil Simborg (1996).
You don't have to play backgammon long before you realize there are certain unwritten rules of the game that every player should be aware of.
Simborg's Backgammon Tips
By Phil Simborg (2007).
If you're trying to win more often, these tips won't help. But they'll make your games more exciting!
I am Tired of It
By Phil Simborg (2007).
"There are two things in backgammon I can't stand: bad losers and bad winners."
The Ten Commandments of Backgammon
By Morten Wang (1997).
"Remember the tournament day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou read thy theory, and play for money, but the seventh day is the tournament day." These are the laws of backgammon you simply must follow.
Scientific Steaming
By David Montgomery (1999).
Almost everyone has experience with players who "steam" when behind on the score sheet. I realized that there ought to be some way to mathematically define how you should change your cube actions based on the score sheet.
Fun and Frustration
By Tom Keith.
From the Backgammon Galore Forum Archive, a collection of humorous articles about backgammon that have been posted over the years.
Jemimah's Beaver Creek Double
By Stein Kulseth (2000).
A puzzling cube handling decision with a centered 8-cube and a maximum value of 64 for the cube.
Jemimah Plays Nackgammon—Not
By Stein Kulseth (2000).
How many rolls/moves does it take to go from a standard starting position to the starting Nackgammon position?
A Position from Jemimah's Past
By Stein Kulseth (2000).
Can you reach the indicated position in just three moves for each side?
The Great Prime Problem
By Bill Davis (1999).
From the opening position, given three legal moves in a row, can you build a Great Prime from your 2-point to your bar-point? You get three rolls of your choice, including doubles. Your opponent doesn't get to move.
Backgammon Puzzles
By Tom Keith.
Lots of puzzles using a backgammon board and dice, from the Backgammon Galore Forum Archive.
The Ultimate Backgammon Contest
By Bill Davis (1981).
The Challenge: Determine, from the opening set-up, the fewest number of legal moves necessary for Black to backgammon White in the Ultimate fashion (fifteen checkers on the bar).
Backgammon Hall of Fame
By Tom Keith.
The best backgammon players of all time. Here are the winners of all the major tournaments and other important accomplishments in the game.
International Tournament Results
By Carol Joy Cole.
Tournament results from around the world, dating back to 1998.
World Champions of Backgammon
By Dale Kerr (2007).
A comprehensive list of the winners and runners-up, and some of the history behind the "World Championships" of backgammon.
Giants of Backgammon
By Yamin Yamin.
Which players are the most respected and feared by their fellow competitors? Every two years since 1993, Yamin Yamin of Illinois has surveyed Championship-level players and tournament directors around the world. He asks them to rank the best currently active players in the world, considering both tournament skills and side action.
American Backgammon Tour
By Bill Davis (2005).
The ABT master point race is an annual event patterned after the American Contract Bridge League's point race. Master points are earned for the year by players who cash in the tournaments. Once earned, they can never be taken away. So the ABT winner will likely be an individual who has attended and placed in a good number of tournaments during the current year.
Snowie Ranking List
By Iancho Hristov and Karsten Nielsen (2006).
Matches recorded on GamesGrid of some of the best players in the world are analyzed using Snowie to determine the error rates of the players.
America's Giant 32
By Anonymous (1981).
In 1981, Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine did a survey of directors, promoters, authors, and top players to see who had the best tournament performance, knowledge, money play skills, and flair. Here are the results.
The Phil Simborg Interviews 
By Phil Simborg (2011).
Phil Simborg has interviewed some of the most interesting people in backgammon. He asks great questions and the interviews are fascinating to read. There are about 30 interviews in total and together they would make a great book on backgammon.
Masters of Backgammon Biographies 
By Masters of Backgammon (2009).
Short biographies of many top backgammon backgammon players produced by Masters of Backgammon.
By Michael Crane (2012).
Obituaries of recently lost backgammon personalities, particularly U.K. players.
Michael Maxakuli Obituary
By Bill Davis (2006).
Michael "Max" Maxakuli was backgammon publisher, club director, and expert player. He published Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine from 1978 to 1980.
François Tardieu, the New #3 Backgammon Giant
By Michael Strato (2006).
The first interview on GammonLife is with the new #3 Giant of Backgammon and three-time Champion of Europe, quite fitting since backgammon is Tardieu's life.
Interview with New World Champion Philip Vischjager
By Michael Strato (2006).
This very first interview with Mr. Philip Vischjager of The Netherlands who just won the 2006 World Championship of Backgammon in Monte Carlo.
Stepler Seeks to Spread Backgammon in France
By Michael Strato (2008).
GammonLife interviews Franck Stepler who has stepped forth as a candidate for the Presidency of the Fédération Française de Backgammon and seeks to spread backgammon in France.
"Money is Not What Interests Me"
By Michael Strato (2007).
GammonLife interviews Lasse Hjorth Madsen of Denmark, the runner-up in the PartyGammon Million Backgammon Tournament held January 2007 at the Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas.
Victoria Smirnoff Would Invest in Cancer Research
By Michael Strato (2006).
Victoria Smirnoff of Russia is heading for The Bahamas next month looking to roll her way to victory in the PartyGammon Million. If she wins, she says she will invest it all in a laboratory that is doing cancer research in her homeland.
The Man Behind the World's Biggest Backgammon Event
By Michael Strato (2006).
Who is the man behind Player International Ltd, how and why did he become involved in backgammon and what did it take to organize the game's biggest prize money event?
Interview with Falafel
By Play65 (2008).
The Israeli backgammon player, Falafel Natanzon, who was recently named a "Giant of Backgammon" talks about his professional backgammon career, on playing online, the differences between backgammon and poker, and the origins of his nickname "Falafel".
Mary Hickey, US Open Champion 2010
By Play65 (2010).
Interview with Mary Hickey, winner of the second US Backgammon Open.
GammonVillage interviews Jeremy Bagai
By Michael Strato (2001).
The author of the popular book, "Classic Backgammon Revisited", tells why he wrote the book, chose the topic (revisiting old backgammon positions), and how he chose the books and authors to review.
Barclay Cooke: A Personal Memoir
By Bob Cooke (1982).
If Barclay Cooke had decided on a career as a stock broker rather than a backgammon expert, it’s my guess he would have made Wall Street forget what E.F. Hutton says. He had a way with figures and percentages that made the nearest computer feel guilty of featherbedding.
Jose Alvarez and Jim Pasko: A Study in Contrasts
By C.J. Boyer (1983).
The 35-year-old Alvarez is a wealthy Spanish businessman who drives a Rolls Royce, mingles with the jet set, and surrounds himself with beautiful women. On the other hand, there's Pasko, a 38-year-old former high school math and physical education teacher, who recently moved from Newark, New Jersey, with his son, Dan.
Tak Morioka: Chicago’s Man of the Year
By Bill Davis (1983).
Gammon's of Chicago salutes Tak Morioka as Player of the Year for 1982, not only for his skillful play, but also for his friendly, sportsmanlike attitude toward the game and its players.
Monte Carlo Winner Bill Robertie
By Les B. Levi (1983).
When Bill Robertie won the world championship in Monte Carlo this summer, few people in the backgammon world were surprised. Since his first major tournament victory in 1979, Robertie, a 37-year-old computer programmer from Boston, has come to be regarded as one of the top backgammon players and authors in America.
The Life and Times of Gaby Horowitz
By Les B. Levi (1982).
He's probably the most controversial figure in American backgammon, so strongly loved and hated he is by the thousands who have played him and watched him play. A self-confessed hustler who claims now to be "interested only in helping backgammon," Gaby Horowitz, 34, talks freely about his past mistakes, emphasizing how he has changed.
Gaby Horowitz and Bruce Roman
By Marcia Clark (1997).
Marcia Clark, who achieved worldwide notoriety in 1994 as the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case, was married to Gaby Horowitz during the backgammon boom of the 1970s. She wrote of her relationship with Gaby and Bruce Roman in her 1997 book, Without a Doubt.
Kent Goulding: Backgammon’s Champion of Champions
By Les B. Levi (1983).
Kent Goulding, at 31, is the populist pro. At tournaments, hawking issues of his self-published and widely acclaimed series, Backgammon with the Champions, he is ubiquitous and easy to approach. And if the little guy from Topeka wants an answer, Goulding will give it to him, and he'll even play him for trivial stakes because backgammon is what Goulding loves most.
A Conversation With Billy Eisenberg
By Kate Wattson (1982).
The legend of Billy Eisenberg talked about in the world of bridge and backgammon certainly has something to do with his personal flamboyance. But what about the supreme backgammon gamesman behind the legend, the seasoned competitor who plays to win?
The Remarkable Barclay Cooke
By Les B. Levi (1982).
Few backgammon players have left as rich and varied a legacy as Barclay Cooke, a star tournament player and the author of three backgammon books whose remarkable career began with the early twentieth-century renaissance of the game and continued to flourish for over five decades.
Profile of Carol Cole
By Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine (1981).
The Flint Area Backgammon Club was organized in 1978 by Carol Cole and her mother, Amy Mitoma. "I love this game because I find it to be intellectually and socially stimulating. I've met all kinds of strange and wonderful people in the backgammon world."
Profile of Howard Markowitz
By Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine (1981).
Howard Markowitz is the director of Gammon's of Chicago. He hopes that anyone coming to Chicago will spend at least part of their time at Gammon's. Howard will make sure they get all the friendly action they want.
Interview with Prince Joli Kansil
By Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine (1981).
His Honolulu Backgammon Club had over 200 members and is one of the most successful local clubs in the country. He wrote "The Backgammon Quiz Book," and now he has invented a board game called Marrakesh.
Profile of Lee Genud
By Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine (1980).
Lee Genud was the only woman on the winning US team in the First International Backgammon Tournament. She is co-owner of a backgammon club in New Hyde Park, and author of a highly successful backgammon book. The champion of the game board is also a world class bridge player and has acquired life master status three times over.
Profile of Jacoby Profile
By Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine (1981).
"Take backgammon, bridge, and gin rummy and there is no one who can beat me at all three games." Jacoby holds thirty-two national bridge titles and three international backgammon titles. His syndicated bridge column has run in newspapers for thirty years, and he has written primers on poker, bridge, backgammon, and canasta.
Profile of Paul Magriel
By Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine (1980).
Paul Magriel, 32, is the 1978–79 World Backgammon Champion. A resident of the city of New York, Magriel serves as backgammon editor of one of New York's leading daily newspapers. An enthusiastic competitor, Magriel has won countless major international backgammon tournaments.
Tim Holland Dies
By Dennis Hevesi (2010).
Tim Holland, who was widely considered the world's greatest backgammon player during that ancient board game's modern heyday, in the 1960s and ’70s, died on March 10 at his home in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was 79.
John Clark: 30 Years of Backgammon
By Gambling Online Magazine (2006).
Interview with John Clark, one of the strongest players in Britain.
Ten minutes with Philip Vischjager
By (2006).
Philip Vischjager from the Netherlands won the World Championship in Monte Carlo and became the 31st Backgammon World Champion. decided to go to Philip and ask a few questions about the past, present and future.
Question and Answer Session with Neil Kazaross
By Mark Damish (1994).
This is the transcript of a question and answer session between Mike Fujita and Neil Kazaross. Neil Kazaross is currently the highest rated tournament player in the world on Kent Goulding's International Rating List.
A Gamesman’s War against Luck, Disorder and Surface Chaos
By Roger Dionne (1979).
Article in Sports Illustrated: Paul Magriel is a mathematician and backgammon champion of the world. His enemy is the dice, which obscure the intricate and beautiful patterns of his game.
Tough Man Across a Table
By Edwin Shrake (1975).
Billy Eisenberg will take your money at backgammon or, if you prefer, at bridge. Get smart, play him a little tennis.
The Chaos of the Dice
By Raffi Khatchadourian (2013).
Falafel's real name is Matvey Natanzon, but no one calls him that, not even his mother, who calls him Mike, the name that he adopted when they emigrated from Israel to Buffalo. He is forty-four. He has known hardship: he once lived on a park bench. Pickpockets have stolen from him. Lowlifes have taken advantage of him. He has learned to be streetwise, but something kidlike remains. He lives life as if it were a game.
My Bumpy Life in Backgammon 
By Ric Gerace (2001).
"How I found backgammon, or how it found me, and how I lost the girl, and then another girl, and oh, hell, it's been fun without them anyway."
Shoot the Chouette
By Jake Jacobs (2000).
A chouette tournament runs like this. Twelve of us entered, and were given a stake of 35 points. We drew for boards, forming three tables of four. Each player had the right, if he lost his stake, of reentering once. To insure that players would eventually lose their stakes, after 8 games the doubling cubes would start on 2, and after 16 games on 4, etc.
Barry Fisk and the Early Cube
By Stein Kulseth (2000).
At times I regret the day I decided to teach Barry Fisk how to play backgammon. We have played weekly sessions for a few years, and by now I guess nobody has learnt more about backgammon than Barry without being able to apply it to the game. I am not giving up though, and I have even made a promise for the new millennium to stop shouting at him.
The Best Play I Ever Made!
By Phil Simborg (2005).
"All I cared about at the moment was how he was going to play the 6-1 as my partner in the non-consulting chouette where our opponent held a 16 cube for more dollars per point than I could afford."
On a Dicey Cruise
By Edwin Shrake (1974).
The voyage promised to be rough, with high-rolling in the richest backgammon tournament ever, but a first-class gambol was assured.
Big Backgammon Binge
By Dan Cox (1992).
Last summer's 16th World Backgammon Championship at the Loews Monte Carlo Hotel went on for seven very long days of rattling dice and rattled nerves. The event was something of a backgammon Super Bowl, in which Texas millionaires squared off against European gentry and tens of thousands of dollars changed hands during casual games by the hotel pool.
Backgammon Hustler
By Michael Konik (1999).
In the jet-set world of little ivory disks, impeccable manners are essential when separating a fool and his money.
When Life Is a Roll of the Dice
By Alex Kuczynski (2004).
They say the most difficult part of an addiction is the moment you hit rock bottom and are forced to admit to yourself and to the world that you have a problem. But there is an even greater and perhaps more embarrassing challenge: announcing that the monkey on your back is online backgammon.
Playing X-22
By E.J. Kahn (1977).
Well, George Plimpton, longtime amateur scourge of proffesional sportsmen, finally got upended before our very eyes, by X-22, a professional player of and writer about backgammon, who is sometimes also prosaically known by his name, Paul Magriel.
Money management
The Kelly Money Management System
By Edward O. Thorp (1979).
The question I will answer is how to manage your money in betting or investment situations. There is, in fact, a rule or formula which you can use to decide how much to bet. I will explain the rule and tell you what benefits are likely if you follow it.
Backgammon: How Much Should You Bet?
By Michelin Chabot (1982).
To make money in backgammon, you need two elements: (1) a skill advantage, and (2) good money management principles. Chabot starts by explaining money management for games in general and then shows the adjustments to make for the game of backgammon. This means correctly establishing your bet and handling the cube properly.
Backgammon: How to Maximize Your Profits Using the Kelly System
By Michelin Chabot (1983).
To make money in backgammon, you need two elements: a skill advantage, and good money management principles, which mainly means correctly establishing your bet and handling the cube properly. In this book, Chabot introduces an additional goal: that of maximizing the rate of increase of your wealth. John L. Kelly Jr. worked with this goal and established a theory known as the Kelly theory.
Bank Roll Management
By Karsten Nielsen (2008).
Factors to consider when deciding how much money to play for so you don't get in over your head.
By Oswald Jacoby and John R. Crawford (1970).
There is no rule that requires a backgammon game to be completed. The players may settle a game any time an agreement can be reached. (From The Backgammon Book, Chapter 13.)
By Barclay Cooke and Jon Bradshaw (1974).
A settlement is a compromise negotiated between the opposing sides, wherein one army agrees to give up a portion of the disputed stake in return for an immediate end to the hostilities. (From Backgammon, the Cruelest Game, Chapter 8.)
Mathematics of Backgammon
Riding the Tiger 
By Bob Floyd (1982).
Bob Floyd takes a look at a position composed by Bill Kennedy where both sides are on the bar. Kennedy wanted to know if it was a "perpetual redouble," that is, that both players should double until one of them enters. Floyd's amazing answer was that the position has undefined equity, so there is no way to tell the correct cube action.
Backgammon Ends 
By Douglas Zare (2000).
Proof that it is impossible for a backgammon game to last forever. If you use random dice and any legal playing strategy (even trying to lose), then the probability the game has ended by the nth move gets arbitrarily close to 1 as n increases.
Mathematics and Backgammon
By Bob Koca (2010).
An overview of the many ways that mathematics plays a part in backgammon -- from pip counting, to probability, to recursive algorithms, to confidence intervals.
Is Brute Force Backgammon Possible?
By David Levner (1976).
In view of the recent interest in backgammon, two mathematical questions can be asked: how many backgammon positions are there, and how hard would it be to solve by brute force?
Theoretical Curiosities of Backgammon
By Tom Keith.
Articles on various mathematical properties of backgammon and interesting formulas and facts about the game. From the Backgammon Galore Forum Archive.
Perpetual Redouble?
By Bill Kennedy (1982).
While thinking about the strange things that can happen in backgammon, I came up with a position where, even though both players have a checker on the bar, I thought it would be a proper double and take regardless of which side was on roll. However, an analysis by Bob Floyd raises some surprising issues with this position.
Undefined Equity
By Douglas Zare (2004).
The doubling cube may escalate so rapidly that the theoretical average value of a position (equity) may not be defined. This is a problem for any rigorous theoretical analysis of the whole game of backgammon, since it is unclear whether equity is defined from the initial position.
Undefined Equity
By Tom Keith (2017).
Equity is the value of the current position in the game. We generally assume perfect play when we talk about equity. But what if some positions don't have a single defined equity? What if there is no such thing as perfect play? This article ponders the question: Is equity defined in money backgammon?
Peloton Numbers
By Tom Keith (2023).
Discussion of "peloton" numbers, a class of numbers that fall between triangular numbers and square numbers.
Academic Papers
Efficient Approximation of Backgammon Race Equities
By Michael Buro (1999).
This article presents efficient equity approximations for backgammon races based on statistical analyses. In conjunction with a 1-ply search the constructed evaluation functions allow a program to play short races almost perfectly with regard to checker-play as well as doubling cube handling. Moreover, the evaluation can naturally be extended to long races without losing much accuracy.
Optimal Doubling Strategy against a Sub-Optimal Opponent
By Konstantinos V. Katsikopoulos and Ozgur Simsek (2005).
An algorithm for deriving the optimal doubling strategy of a player who is aware of the suboptimal strategy followed by the opponent.
Backgammon: The Optimal Strategy for the Pure Running Game
By Edward O. Thorp (1975).
This paper presents a complete exact solution to the pure running game with the doubling cube under the simplifying assumption that dice totals can be arbitrarily subdivided in moving men and that men can be borne off even though not all are in the inner table.
Estimating Winning Probabilities in Backgammon Races
By Andrew M. Ross and Arthur Benjamin (2007).
A simple model of backgammon is used to approximate the chances each player has of winning, and a computable and reasonably accurate approximation is developed. From there, the model is compared to simulated backgammon games, and the approximation is modified to fit the real data.
Enumerating Backgammon Positions: The Perfect Hash
By Arthur Benjamin and Andrew M. Ross (1997).
In order to make intelligent bets, one needs to know the chances of winning at any point in the game. We were working on this for positions near the end of the game when we needed to explicitly label each of the positions so the computer could refer to them. (First published in Interface Journal; vol. 16, no. 1, Spring 1997.) [Also see Errata prepared by Mike Mannon.]
On Doubling in Tournament Backgammon
By Norman Zadeh (1977).
A strategy is determined which takes into account a player's skill, the score of the match, the value of the current game, and the possibility of winning a double-game (a gammon). The strategy described here has worked quite well in practice.
Backgammon Ends with Probability One
By Philippe H. A. Charmoy (2010).
In this note I detail a proof that backgammon ends with probability 1, even when the players are clairvoyant, a result due to Curt McMullen in 1994.
Other Articles
 General  Introduction  •  Rules  •  Variants  •  History  •  Terminology  •  Equipment 
 Strategy  Basic Strategy  •  Vision  •  Psychology  •  Openings  •  Early Game  •  Attacking Games  •  Priming Games  •  Holding Games  •  Back Games 
 Tactics  General Tactics  •  Probability  •  Playing for/Saving Gammon  •  Taking Risks  •  Duplication  •  Hitting  •  Containment  •  Ace-Point Games  •  Unequal Players  •  Racing 
 Cube Handling  Introduction  •  Cube Theory  •  Holding Games  •  Blitzes  •  Going for Gammon  •  Miscellaneous  •  Pip Counting  •  Match Play  •  Match Equities  •  Races 
 Competition  Backgammon Clubs  •  Luck vs Skill  •  Etiquette  •  Chouettes  •  Ratings  •  Tournaments  •  Tournament Rules 
 Study  Tips  •  How to Improve  •  Book Suggestions  •  Book Reviews  •  Book Transcriptions  •  Position Lists  •  Book Lists  •  Quizzes  •  Annotated Games  •  Blogs  •  Checker Problems  •  Cube problems  •  Recorded Matches 
 Computers  Rollouts  •  Analyzing errors  •  Programming  •  Computer Dice  •  Gnu Backgammon  •  Snowie  •  Other Bots 
 Miscellaneous  Humor  •  Puzzles  •  Honors  •  Biographies  •  Stories  •  Money management  •  Mathematics of Backgammon  •  Academic Papers 

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Last updated: 30 Sep 2023