Forum Archive : Learning

Getting better than "awful"

From:   Morph
Address:   deepthought42@ntlworld.com
Date:   21 May 2004
Subject:   GNU-BG awful rating
Forum:   rec.games.backgammon
Google:   2yurc.476$3d1.372@newsfe6-gui.server.ntli.net

Just downloaded and installed GNU, seems a great program, however even
though I havent been playing long I cant seem to get my rating above
'awful'. Played about 20 5-game matches so far.

I know Im not that good but "awful" come on........ lol

Anybody else in the 'awful' league who can perhaps give me a few pointers
as to were to look on web so I can improve my game.  No silly replies like
more practice please, I no I need loads more practice what I would like is
help/tips on improving my strategy.

Thanks for any help you guys/gals can offer.


Peter Schneider  writes:

0. Even fairly good players (better than me, that is) get an "awful" from
time to time; do not lose fun or faith. Gnubg, like any modern robot
player, has a pretty sobering effect on anybody who encounters it for the
first time; except, perhaps, Zaphod Beeblebrox ;-).

1. Read good books. Tom Keith maintains a list on his site:
http://www.bkgm.com/books/. I personally enjoyed a lot Magriels book as a
solid, well-written classic, and I like Kit Woolsey's/Heinrich's "New
Ideas in BG" which can surely be read at any level; experts just will find
it more surprising ;-). I have heard that the new book by him and Jones,
"Understanding bg", is excellent as well.

2. Play good players. Depending on where you live, good players may be
difficult to find; in this case, you can find good players on the net,
probably gamesgrid is the place to go. The best players will only offer
lessons for money (best option if you want to spend it) or just play for
money (worse option). I believe that bg lessons are by far the best way to
learn. Reading some books first just saves money, that's why I listed that

3. I found that playing a bot itself is good training for your own neural
net, if you look at the analysis later. It is much inferior to a human
because the bot does not yell in dismay at your bad moves, and does not
tell you why it was bad. It provides neither the motivation nor the
insight that a teacher does. But I believe that you can become an online
expert player quickly just by playing bots. You should play it at the
strongest settings that your machine and patience permit.

Have fun,
Peter aka the juggler

George Savdar  writes:

Play around 1.000 games against GNUBG or Jellyfish or Snowie or me
and your brain will start creating patterns and rules of how you
should play top class Backgammon. Make rollouts at 400 or more
positions to see the "best" move and understand why it is the best.

 To make my reply less silly, i would advice you also, to see some
annotated games, for example look here:
or try to solve some test-positions which you can find for example
along with BGBlitz program that you can find here: http://www.bgblitz.com

 And one question: How many plies do you look ahead in your game? I
mean do you consider only your move, or also the opponents reply, or
also your reply after his reply?

Jim Segrave  writes:

Turn on gnubg's tutor mode (Settings->Options->Tutor.

when starting out, tell it only to warn about bad or very bad
mistakes. Now when you play it, if the tutor pops up a warning, try to
look at the position, rethink and enter another move, don't simply
press hint to see what's better. Gnubg won't help by telling you why a
move is better, but it will show you where you are going wrong at the
time it happens, which for some people, me at least, is more helpful
than finding out later that you made a mistake, because you know what
you were thinking when you made your choice.

To understand the why, Magriel's backgammon is an invaluable resource,
other books, in particular Kit Woolsey's Understanding Backgammon and,
for somewhat later, New Ideas in Backgammon are very useful.

On the other hand, after Magriel, http://www.gammonline.com (US $35/year),
has a large collection of articles, a match, one move per day, between
Kit Woolsey and the other subscribers together, with full commentary
on the moves, the whys and wherefores of the moves, etc. It has a
lively web forum with continuous discussions of positions and how they
should be played and why from some of the best players around today.

Finally, try http://www.redtopbg.com. and http://www.bkgm.com for web
sites with a plethora of useful instructional material on all the various
aspects of the game.

And of course, you will have to practice. Lots

Jim Segrave           jes@jes-2.demon.nl
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Advancing beyond intermediate  (James Eibisch, July 1998) 
Beginners' mistakes  (Alan Webb+, Nov 1999)  [Long message] [Recommended reading]
Best way for a beginner to learn  (Koyunbaba+, July 2007)  [Long message]
Committing to memory  (RobertFontaine+, Feb 2011) 
Getting better than "awful"  (Morph+, May 2004) 
How to excel in backgammon  (Max Levenstein+, Aug 2011) 
How to improve  (N Merrigan, Jan 2007) 
How to improve  (Albert Steg, Feb 1996) 
How to improve cube handling  (RealNick+, Jan 2011) 
How to learn and improve  (Hristov, Aug 2005) 
Lowering your error rate  (Stick Rice+, Apr 2009) 
Maintaining your game  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, Apr 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Matchqiz and Jellyfish  (Gilles Baudrillard, May 1997) 
Missing candidate plays  (Klaus Evers+, Apr 2009) 
Most efficient way to learn  (Stick+, May 2007)  [Long message]
Practice and preparation  (Ian Shaw+, Mar 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Practice/study plan  (Marcus Brooks+, Nov 1995) 
Reference positions  (Chuck Bower, July 1999) 
Study Methodology  (Phil Simborg, Dec 2012) 
Study method  (Jason Lee+, Jan 2012) 
Study plan  (Tenland+, Nov 2012) 
Taking your game up a level  (CW+, Aug 2002) 
Taking your game up a level  (Ron Karr, Aug 1996) 
The backgammon cake  (Daniel Murphy, Nov 1997) 
The best way to learn  (Chuck Bower+, Oct 2003)  [GammOnLine forum] [Long message]
Three steps to better play  (David Montgomery, July 1998) 
Using Jellyfish tutor  (Stephen Hubbard, Sept 1997) 
What more can I do?  (Alison Wylie+, Apr 2000) 
Zen in the art of backgammon  (Robban+, Aug 2009) 

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