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Big Brother

From:   Mark Damish
Date:   2 October 1995
Subject:   [announce] Big_Brother matches available.
Google:   44phtc$

After my initial post about observer, enough has changed that a second
post seemed warrented. The main item is the free availability of the
recorded matches.

I've recently been running a FIBS client program which logs onto FIBS
with the name 'Big_Brother'. Several people have asked me about the
program; hence this post.

Big_Brother (name changed from 'observer' by popular demand) is a
computer program, which runs as a client to FIBS. Its purpose is to
log matches played on the server. It currently searches for matches
played between the top 150 players, and then watches the match,
recording the it to disk.

Why record matches?

  -- To make available freely, matches played between good players.

  -- I like to watch backgammon matches almost as much as playing them.
     There is much to be learned about the game from watching matches,
     expecially amoungst top level players. Since I rarely have enough
     time to log onto FIBS and watch matches, observer records matches
     much the same way a VCR records programs when you are unable to
     see them. I now also get to see matches played between players
     whom I've never met on FIBS, due to time-zone differances.

  -- It will be interesting to construct match equity tables between
     players of less than world class ranking. It will also be interesting
     to construct tables for players of differing levels (read ratings)
     of play.

  -- The creation of Big_Brother is also an exercise in itself. I'm using
     tools that are very unfamiliar to me to create a useful tool,
     which of course could lead to another useful bg tool in the future.

What about distributing the matches via the net or a CD?

   Matches are available via anonymous ftp on Patti Beadles ftp
   site: in the directory /fibs/matches/. Directory
   9508 contains matches for August 1995, 9509 for September 1995,
   A complete set of the previous months matches will also be stored on:
   The file 9509.tar.gz will contain all of the recorded matches for
   September 1995.

How can I play these matches back?

   The matches are in an 'oldmoves like' format, which is the output
   of the program 'rfibs'. The matches may be played back with the
   program 'sfibs' which is available for both ms-dos and unix.
   The output may also be run through Peter Faukhauser's program which
   will produce LaTeX output, compatable with Jeorg Richtors LaTeX
   backgammon style and font. The location of these programs may be
   found in the FAQ. Hopefully some one will write a nice graphical
   playback program, as well as programs that translate the output
   from the FIBS 'oldmoves-like' format, to something a little more

What is the filenaming convention?


   951002          Date in yymmdd.
   1209            Time in hhmm.  24 hour clock. eastern US time.
   mklein.1792.98  Invitee name, his/her/its rating, and rank on FIBS.
   ElDope.1777.121 Inviter name, his/her rating, and rank on FIBS.
   .5              A 5-point match.
   .fibslog        Some sort of match from FIBS.
   .db             Match is an 'oldmoves like' format, output from the
                   program 'rfibs', which may be played back with 'sfibs'.

   A possable useful ms-dos 8.3 name for the above file might be

What does and doesn't Big_Brother log?

   Currently Big_Brother will watch any match between two top 150 rated
   players who are playing a 1-11 point match. There is also a mloner
   switch, for ignoring mloner matches. These paramaters can
   be changed with a simple gui front end for the program. It is
   important to note that ALL kibitzes, says, and whispers are discarded,
   since the purpose of the program is to log matches, not converstaion,
   even though the converstion might be useful when looking at the match.

I REALLY don't want my match recorded for ANY reason.

   Type "blind Big_Brother". I encourage you not to, as I would like a
   wide selection of players for constructing match equity tables.

Why call it Big_Brother?

   I wanted to name it "eyeball", but the name was already in use! The
   program was initially tested with the name observer, and the name
   stuck after a few days. Several people, including Albert Steg and
   Walter Trice _strongly_ suggested calling the program Big_Brother,
   and the name was permanately changed.

I'd like to run my own Big_Brother too. Is the code available?

   Sorry, the code is not available.

Any other questions, comments or suggestions?

   Please send any correspondence to

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Match Archives

Big Brother  (Mark Damish, Oct 1995) 
Big Brother Statistics  (Peter Fankhauser, Jan 1996)  [Long message]
Big Brother file viewer  (Vince Mounts, June 1998) 
Database software  (Achim Müller, July 1997) 
Dueller: Jellyfish vs. Snowie  (Tony Lezard, Jan 2002) 
LittleSister  (Francois Hochede, May 2002) 
Monte Carlo 2001 Final  (Daniel Murphy, July 2001)  [Long message]
Standard notation/archive format  (Mark Damish, Oct 1994) 
Where to get matches to download  (Stick, Apr 2006) 
Where to get matches to download  (KaRaNLiK+, Oct 2005) 

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