Backgammon Books

  501 Essential
Backgammon Problems

  AUTHOR: Bill Robertie
  YEAR: 2000
  PUBLISHER: Cardoza Publishing
  CITY: New York, NY
  ISBN: 158042-019-2
  BINDING: Softcover
  PAGES: 384
  SIZE: 23 cm high, 15 cm wide
  NOTE: Timothy Chow has performed rollouts of many of the positions in this book:

     "This book is aimed at intermediate to expert players. Robertie provides problems covering all aspects of the game from the opening to the bear-off. It would be better if some of the explanations were a little longer, but Robertie has a concise style of writing and gets his points across well."—Chris Bray, in What Colour is the Wind?


     "I recommend this book. It is cheap (you will find it for less than 20$), detailed, goes through all the parts of the game and will help players from amateur to mid-level a lot."—Nikos Albanopoulos, August 2000


     "I think this book is excellent. Each area of the game is headed by a chapter which provides some general guidelines. In the chapter you will find a series of problems to solve, but the meat of the book is in the solutions where you not only find the reasons supporting the author's choice, but sometimes even advice for similar situations."—Albert Silver, November 2002


     "This is different from other books in that the analysis for each problem is short, but the number of problems is large. The short analysis works because each position is supposed to have a clear answer. It is the opposite approach to Woolsey's New Ideas in Backgammon, where the problems are all taken from experts' errors. The nice thing about 501 Problems is that I don't feel there are any problems beyond my capabilities, yet still get a fair number of them wrong."—Daniel Hollis, May 2000


     "An excellent book for intermediate or stronger players. The strength of the book is that it is cheap, contains a lot positions, and the positions are well categorized and illustrative. The only minus is that there are sometimes alternatives not mentioned which are equally good to the given solutions. Also, the analysis is not in-depth, but maybe that's a good thing."—Tore Fredriksen, July 2002


     "Robertie has attempted to create a book of reference positions whose characteristics the reader can hopefully remember and apply and adapt over the board. For each problem, he typically gives a succinct 8-10 line analysis. The problems are typical of positions that appear in everyday backgammon and not unusual or tricky positions that an expert may get wrong.
      The target audience is everybody from beginner to expert level. The only group that maybe wouldn't find many parts of this book valuable would be world-class players.
      My only major criticism on the book is that in some of the checker play problems, Robertie doesn't analyze all the potential choices or rejects one when in fact the equities are quite close. And on a personal note, I prefer to see the pip count in diagrams. Overall, this is an excellent book suitable for either beginners who have learned the very basics or a good refresher book for more advanced players."—Michael Depreli, GammonVillage, March 2000


     "I've just read the first section and it gave me a headache. The rub is that the problems are grouped together followed by the solutions. This means you spend your whole time skipping back and forth from problem to solution. And the biggest shame of all is that the content is excellent, so I'm reluctant to toss the thing because I know I'd be missing out. So, I'll struggle on ... flip flop, flip flop. A great book spoiled by a clumsy layout ... too bad."—Shaun Harris , Customer Review at, May 2003


     "I absolutely loved this book and recommend it to all those between beginner and world-class. It's systematic and it explains the issues well. However, it has one flaw. Robertie often skips indications about the marginality or otherwise of the actions. For example, in Problem 173 Robertie's analysis is basically that without a blot to shoot at, there aren't enough market losers—no double. Well, that is the correct result. But a more accurate commentary would have said that there are reasons to double and reasons to hold, and that the decision is ultra-marginal."—Paul Epstein, July 2005


     "501 is a lot. That was the first thing I learned from Bill Robertie's new book. I believe the players of all skill levels will find the collection to be challenging, entertaining and enlightening. Many will get half or more of the answers wrong on their first run through the book.
      Robertie's answers are concise and pithy, running about four to a page, focusing on principles and game plans, and avoiding the more intricate technical details. Rarely, though, do they slide into superficiality."—Walter Trice, Flint Area BackgammonNews, April 2000

1.  Introduction
2.  How to Use This Book
3.  Backgammon Notation
4.  General Principles: Counting Dice Combinations, Counting Dice Rolls, Counting Pips, Doubling, Taking a Double, Offering a Double, Too Good to Double, Beavers
5.  The Opening: Problems 1-59
6.  Flexibility: Problems 60-84
7.  The Middle Game: Problems 85-162
8.  The 5-Point: Problems 163-172
9.  The Blitz: Problems 173-206
10.  One Man Back: Problems 207-216
11.  Holding Games: Problems 217-244
12.  Priming Games: Problems 245-267
13.  Connectivity: Problems 268-275
14.  Hit or Not?: Problems 276-283
15.  Breaking Anchor: Problems 284-287
16.  Crunch Positions: Problems 288-290
17.  Action Doubles: Problems 291-295
18.  Late Game Blitz: Problems 296-300
19.  Post-Blitz Turnaround Games: Problems 301-307
20.  Too Good to Double? Problems 308-312
21.  Ace-Point Games: Problems 313-335
22.  Back Games: Problems 336-368
23  The Containment Game: Problems 369-384
24.  Post-Ace-Point Games: Problems 385-418
25.  Playing for a Gammon: Problems 419-423
26.  Saving the Gammon: Problems 424-429
27.  Bearing Off Against Contact: Problems 430-450
28.  Various Endgames: Problems 451-459
29.  The Race: Problems 460-469
30.  The Bearoff: Problems 470-501
31.  Next Steps
  COVER: A complete approach! Thirty-one chapters cover every part of the game, from the opening roll to the art of endgame settlements. You'll learn when to attack blots, how to master the blitz, and about anchors, primes, crunched positions, mastering a race, calculating bearoffs, the back game, checker play problems, doubling, and much more!
      The world's best backgammon players think and react in decisive situations, how they plan their strategies, and how you can approach every game situation with a winning plan.
      A must read for every player! This all-encompassing book challenges you with 501 essential problems to transform you into a thinking, aggressive pro-level player. Strategies and situations covering every aspect of the game, from playing positions to doubling maneuvers, are carefully explained and illustrated so that you understand the winning concepts of play. This book will take your game to the next level.

Bill Robertie is the world's best backgammon player and the only two-time winner of the Monte Carlo World Championships. In addition to this book, Robertie is the author of six other books on winning at backgammon and the co-publisher of Inside Backgammon, the world's foremost backgammon magazine. He's also a chess master, winner of the U.S. Speed Chess Championship, and the author of sixchess books. His club and tournament winnings have allowed him to travel the world in style. Robertie currently makes his home in Arlington, Massachusetts.

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