Backgammon Books

  Can a Fish Taste Twice as Good?
Doubling in an Unequal Backgammon Match

  AUTHORS: Jake Jacobs
Walter Trice

  YEAR: 1996
  PUBLISHER: ToBak Press
  CITY: Chicago
  BINDING: Softcover, spiral-bound.
  PAGES: 114
  SIZE: 28 cm high, 22 cm wide

     "Jake Jacobs books are very entertaining, but they aren't filled with theories and techniques for the game. The 'Fish' book is an extremely mathematical approach to changing play style based on skill differences between the players; interesting but obscure."—Gregg Cattanach, August 2000


     "Jake and Walter's book touches on some uncharted waters by using mathematical models to derive match equity tables for unequal opponents. While it is probably not possible to incorporate the exact type of unequalness, I think this book begins by giving us some new benchmarks and points of reference.
      Much of the book is spent explaining the various match equity tables and their origins, but some of the most valuable information is contained in Jake's thoughtful ruminations about backgammon matches in general.
      All in all, I must give Jake and Walter a lot of credit for writing a book that touches on a very complex subject. While I don't think this book is for everyone, I believe it has enough solid insight to be of great value to any open player."—Howard Ring, Flint Area BackgammoNews, September/October 1996

Chapter 1:  History of the search for a theory covering doubling in mismatches. Barclay Cooke. Norman Zadeh. Danny Kleinman. Bill Robertie. (Wherein we drop names, not doubles.)
Chapter 2:  Walter's program—the little engine that could.
Chapter 3:  Rating the competition. Larry Kaufman and the K.G. rating system.
Chapter 4:  Your table is waiting! Match Equity Charts. Enough tables to open a restaurant!
Chapter 5:  Using the tables. Now that we've got'em, what do we do with 'em?
Chapter 6:  From the tables to the table. Advanced considerations. (If he's good enough to double, am I good enough to drop?)
Chapter 7:  Unforgettable! Learning the tables. Let's see: match length, divided by square root of e, times 1.974 ... I'm not holding up your tournament, Carol?
Chapter 8:  Calcuttas and other black holes. Tournaments and calcuttas. What's a trifecta pay, Emil?
Walter Trice:  Walter was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (12/17/48) where his Dad had worked on the Bomb. He had the usual Tennessee childhood, which I believe includes shooting b'ars, attending high school with Elvis, and dating Dolly Parton. He attended Wesleyan University from 1966-1970 majoring in mathematics ("How many papers does it take to roll one of these suckers?").
      Finding no available openings at The Village Voice for mathematicians, Walter went to work for an insurance company (1970-1988). He spent a few of those years (82-85) with a software company in Indianapolis. It was there he learned backgammon, and might have stayed, a happy Hoosier, but it was discovered that he knew how to spell potato, and the natives ran him out of town.
      Since 1988 he has lived quietly in the Massachusetts woods, meditating, and writing backgammon articles and software.
      He is a top rated palyer, on FIBS, in KG's list, and in Yamin's Giant 32. He is winner of many tournaments including: Indianapolis 4/91, Indianapolis Labor Day 1993, and the NEBC Championship 6/91 (defeating Bill Robertie in a best out of seven series of 9 point matches).
      Walter credits Herb Gurland, Wilcox Snellings, and Paul Weaver with teaching him the most about the game.

Jake Jacobs:  My Life story is more prosaic. I was born 6/25/53 in Chicago. My Daddy did his part in making things go boom by producing 3 sons during the 1950's. I dropped out of Roosevelt University in 1969, but have since attended UICC, the Honeywell Institute, Oakton Community College, and Ewha Korean Women's University in Seoul, and acquired an AA in philosophy along the way.
      I have tried my hand at various things including: law clerk, computer operator/programmer, pizza delivery, cab driver/dispatcher, blackjack player, telephone sales, video store manager, actor, magazine editor, film production, pit boss/casino manager, screenwriter, club manager. I seem to be running out of new occupations, but some of the ones left on the list—cosmetic surgeon, CEO of a Fortune 500 company—pay well.
      In April 1987 I traveled to Seoul, Korea, where I was first introduced to Oriental verbs, and Oriental women. I have been trying to conjugate them ever since.
      I started playing backgammon at 3 A.M. one Saturday morning in June of 1979. I was in a bar, I was bored, and someone was looking for a game. I won 4 Heinekens, and decided to study the game before I lost them back.
      Generous fellow that I am, I prefer to let other people win tournaments, but I have managed to win the very first Nevada State Championship (1/84), the Pattaya Open International Championship (2/96), the Midwest Championships (3/96), and the U.S. Open (8/96).
      The people I owe the most to as a player are John Elliott, my brother Munchkin, Tim Wisecarver, Craig Chellstorp, and Michael Maxakuli. [See the Jake Jacobs's personal web page.]

   A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Four-Point
The Backgammon Writings of Jake Jacobs (1990-1996)
Jake Jacobs
1997: ToBak Press, Chicago
   Backgammon Boot Camp
Walter Trice
2004: The Fortuitous Press, San Francisco

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Copyright © 1996-2016 by Tom Keith

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