Backgammon Books

  Backgammon for Blood!

  AUTHOR: Bruce Becker
  YEAR: 1974
  PUBLISHER: A Sunrise Book, E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.
  CITY: New York
  ISBN: 0-87690-123-2
  BINDING: Hardcover
  PAGES: 176
  SIZE: 22 cm high, 15 cm wide


     "Chapter 4 outlines Becker's approach to backgammon strategy. Basically, what he advocates is building a prime by making the 5, 7, 9, and 10 points. Meanwhile one never moves the back men (unless forced to do so by an early double-six roll), and maintains the option of playing a back game to the greatest possible extent.
      Becker's map of the world is missing a couple of continents. One of them is Attack. It seems never to have dawned on him that you can win by closing out an opponent's checker.
      I was surprised to find Backgammon for Blood worse than I remembered. A great deal of the content amounts to filler. Much of what substitutes for exposition of the game's strategy is trivial, and most of the rest is wildly wrong."—Walter Trice, GammonVillage, June 2007.


     "Backgammon for Blood was a very popular book and good enough to turn many beginners into winners. Becker's writing style is entertaining, and his comments on luck, probability, doubling and attitude are worth absorbing. His recommendations on opening moves are not, and his recommended strategies are no longer good enough to beat competent intermediate level players.
      Becker hates a running game and has nothing to say about an advanced anchor holding game. His recommended strategy has two parts: First, he goes all out for a prime extending from the 5 point to the 10 point. Second, he doesn't really care if the slotted checkers get hit because he's eager to outplay his opponents in a back game."—Daniel Murphy, July 1997.


     "Backgammon for Blood doesn't stand up against modern strategy, but taken in context of the time it was a pretty radical and useful book."—PTaber, June 1999.


     "It is a terrible book that was spewed out during the backgammon craze of the early 1970's. Its catchy title fooled me into buying it, reading it, and trying out some of its principals. Unfortunately, for me, it made my backgammon play worse at the time. It tricked me into being gammoned and backgammoned more often."—Michael Fuhrmann, August 1997.


     "I was playing tournament backgammon at the time of publication of Backgammon for Blood. It was never considered to be anything but a joke."—Donald Kahn, June 1999.


     "I can't help speaking up for Bruce Becker's book. As far as books that provide a lively introduction to fundamental strategic aspects of the game go, Becker is pretty good! At least he writes in a vigorous, conversational way that doesn't put you to sleep. Magriel's book is a great work, but I would never drop it on newcomers to the game. Becker may well motivate new players to get hooked on the game."—Albert Steg, May 1994.


     "Backgammon for Blood" will help the novice player improve her game, and that will result in winning more games against other novices. More importantly, it forces the reader to think, since it poses questions and challenges the more widely accepted views on strategy such as those found in Jacoby and Crawford's 1971 introductory book. In this respect, Becker's book does some good, and we now know that the staid ideas of the old school really were in need of being challenged and refined."—Darse Billings, May 1994.


     "Despite the unsuitablity of the content as a modern learning tool, the book may still be regarded as a classic, if only for the novelty and entertainment value. Beckers passionate prose and wacky advice makes for an excellent light-hearted read and is guaranteed to not to put the bedtime reader to sleep, if only from fits of laughter."—Mark Driver, December 2001


     "Lewis Deyong, author of The Playboy Book of Backgammon, some time in or around 1980, issued a challenge to Bruce Becker. It was something like a challenge to a 17 point match, with Deyong willing to lay 6 to 5 (I think it was $6000 if Becker would put up $5000) provided that Becker would use the opening moves he recommends in his book. Either Becker never received the challenge, or he simply declined."—Shuman Lloyd Lee, August 1991


     "I bought the book with high expectations. Indeed, the title piqued my curiosity. What I found, though, was a very dry book with few diagrams after the section on opening moves. Furthermore, there was very little strategy mentioned other than 'playing the odds.' To Becker's credit, there is a good section on bearing off that I would recommend to anybody."—lekkerstuk , Customer Review at, December 2002


     "The first book on backgammon I bought was The Backgammon Book by Jacoby and Crawford that I picked up in the mid-to-late 70's. I couldn't read the whole thing and was about to lose interest in learning the game until I picked up this book from Becker. It really turned me around and I had a whole new perspective on backgammon. Becker gets you enthused about the game. I now realize Becker lacks a great deal of rational, logical and objective material but, what the heck, I still enjoy reading it to reignite more subjective emotions for the game. I'd give this one first to anyone considering learning the game and then quickly move them to Magriel's book."—Reader from the United States, Customer Review at, February 2002

1.  Science and Chance, and the Science of Chance
2.  Basics for Beginners
3.  If You Can Count to 36, You're into Probabilities and Odds
4.  Battle Strategy: The Basic Approach to War
5.  Insidious Openings
6.  Retaliations: Replies of Consequence
7.  Battle Strategy: Tactics During the Game
8.  The Pregnant Back Board: The Odds of Bearing Off
9.  The Diabolical Doubler: Betting for Blood
10.  The (Short) History of Backgammon
11.  Chouette
12.  Tournament Survival
Appendix:  The Rules of Backgammon and Their Variants in Play
  COVER: Aiming at the serious player—the money player—who wants to improve his game, Bruce Becker has taken backgammon out of the drawing room. All the no-holds-barred psychs and tactics necessary to become a consistent winner are here, plus some practically unbeatable strategies never before found in print.
      Although intended primarily for the player with some experience, Backgammon for Blood! is so simply and clearly written that relative beginners will undoubtedly find it their best introduction to the game—and the best way to move up quickly. In fact, novices who have learned by Becker's system swear by it. His advice is easy to understand and easy to apply.
      In Becker's opinion, backgammon should always be played for money, for it is a gambling game of unparalleled excitement. Throughout Backgammon for Blood!, whether discussing odds, overall strategy, openings, retaliations, the back game, or bearing off, Becker keeps in mind that the player is out to win and win big. He gives valuable points on using the doubling cube, on chouette (a variant of the game involving more than two players), and on surviving the hazards of tournament play. Backgammon for Blood! concludes with a short history of backgammon and an appendix giving the rules of backgammon and their variations in play.

  QUOTES: "... interesting and lively ... with novel approaches for the practical player."—Alan Truscott, The New York Times bridge columnist

"Backgammon for Blood! is the best thing I've read on the game. If you are looking for a book to turn you into a winner, go no further. This is it."—Bert Bacharach, King Features Syndicate columnist

Bruce Becker is a New York City lawyer and movie producer who has also been operator of a summer theatre. His own success at the backgammon board inspired him to write this, his first book.

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