Forum Archive : Jellyfish

Review of JF Player 3.0

From:   Geoff Oliver
Date:   29 April 1997
Subject:   Some ramblings JellyFish 3.0 beta
Google:   01bc5472$8d7cc2e0$LocalHost@default

Here's some observsations on JF Player 3.0 beta after my first
look...There's quite a few things mentioned here - some trivial - and I'm
sure I'll be told if I'm mistaken on anything :-).... Also, as some of
these points are subjective, I thought some sort of discussion was in

This is mostly about the interface and whilst certainly not of paramount
importance to me I think it deserves comment as a) JF is still
extortionately priced compared to other games (Analyzer, anyway), and b) a
little tweeking would go a long way re selling outside the specialist
marketplace where the 'feel' of the game is perhaps more important than the
quality of play. Hey ! With bigger sales it'll be cheaper for all of us !

JF 3.0 looks much like 2.01 but there are a few things that niggle

- I cant find a way to change the colour of the printout. Shouldn't the
  print look like the screen ? (Under JF 2.01 I did this with edit of
  analyz20.ini file )
- When running in Demo mode JF played itself continuously. Interesting.
  But game after game??? It appears to be absolutely unstoppable!!!
  None of the usual keys or key combinations paused or stopped it. Closing
  from the taskbar caused invaid page faults and once my system locked
  requiring a reboot.
- Still no on-line help file. I'd recommend one - at least with the
  registered version.
- The is no 'Save settings on Exit' option.
- I periodically notice that JF resets itself to play in Level 5 despite
  the fact that I've repeatedly reset to Level 7 in both game and match
  play modes. Is this a bug anyone else has noticed ?
- Re View menu: Whilst the display of Number, Pipcount, Seed (selected
  from the View menu) IS automatically saved on exit it is impossible to
  save the turning off of the Status Bar or the Toolbar.
- The choice of checker Movement (from the Settings menu in 2.01) has been
  removed. This is a bit of a bummer for me as I like using left-click for
  the left die and right-click for the right die. Now I have to right-click
  on the dice to swap them over before moving a checker. That's a lot more
  clicks per game :-(
- When asking JF to Take-back it not only takes back its move but it takes
  back its roll as well! This really pisses me off sometimes! Having to
  switch temorarily to manual dice throw is a real pain.
- Re log Files: I havn't found a way to apend a log file. (This problem
  was noted in a BIBAfax published last year.) It would appear that JF 3.0
  is like 2.01 in that if you close the program whilst logging a match
  there is no way to resume logging if you wanted to finish the match
  later. (You can retain the match score if you save to a .pos file but
  that's not what I want.) Does anyone know a way round this?
- When recording a log file it is possible to insert positions. However,
  there's still no option to insert Comments. I'd like to see the option
  of being able to insert a) JF evaluation either continuously or
  manually), and b) user text.
- Having said that I do really like the new feature of being able to play
  through matches now.
- Printing a match log file is not straightforward. One cannot open the
  file to review it and then print it. ie The option on the file menu is
  greyed-out. I have to pretend to start a new game or match and only after
  selecting these menu options can I print a log file. This dosen't seem
  right.  Am I missing something here ?
- Full file management a la Win95 from within the program is now possible
  from the File/Open menu. Essential if you've several hundred positions
  as I have!
- Long file names are allowed! Hooray!
- Old position files '*.pos created by JF 2.01 can be opened by version
  3.0. However, the reverse does not appear to be true. Whilst this pissed
  me off when I was doing my comparison of the two versions who else would
  want to do this anyway??
- The new 'Automization' option is most welcome. It allows automatic
  rolling of the dice and play of forced moves and moreover this can be made
  dependent on cube availability. A big timesaver ! Though confusingly these
  settings had to be made twice, once during game play and once during match
  play. I havn't worked out exactly how greedy the 'Greedy Bearoff' automize
  option is yet. I guess the Manual may provide an insight into that.
- Another menu item I'm not clear on yet is the 'Use Caution' option from
  the Settings menu. What is it? Can anyone shed some light on that one too?
- A new 'Seed' option is also available. One can now set the Seed and the
  counter at any time during play. This should serve to reassure the
  sceptics about the random number generator though I guess for practical
  purposes it's only of much use when conducting a set of rollouts - which
  one can't do with this beta of Player 3.0 :-(
- Another new option is available when selecting the top Level 7 - an
  aditional box is available which allows setting of a 'Time Factor' , ie a
  number from 1 to 1000. One to a thousand what, I ask. I've got a P150 and
  amending the default of 10 to 1000 I havn't noticed any difference yet.
  Has anyone else? Or perhaps this feature only kicks in in certain

Enough on the interface. But does it play better? I havn't played enough
yet to really notice a difference so to get a handle on it I looked at 10
backgame positions from Robertie's Advanced BG as we're told there's much
improvement in this area.

Position        Book                    2.01                    3.0

163             Double/Take             Double/Drop             Per book
167             11-8, 13-8              11-6, 13-10             11-6, 8-5
168             7-4, 5-3                8-5, 8-6                7-4, 8-6
183             13-3*, 7-2*, 6-1*       8-3(2)*, 7-2(2)*        Per book
184             Bar-23, 24-23           Per book                Bar-23, 6-5
185             Bar-23, 23-22           Bar-23, 10-9            Bar-23, 10-9
188             6-2, 6-3                24-17                   24-17
189             24-15                   21-12*                  21-12*
192             8-4*, 6-5               8-4*, 4-3               8-4*, 4-3
196             Bar-22, 5-3             Per book                Per book

Differences on all sides! I havn't done enough work yet to decide if any
of the above is significant. The main thing I've  learnt from this is that
there are typo's in Robertie positons 174 and 190 which I'd never noticed
before! Count the white checkers in both cases if you don't believe me!
So I left them out of the above list. It's difficult to gleam a lot from
this small sample as Player 3.0 dosn't allow 2-ply evaluations which would
allow comparison of gammon frequency in the above positions.

I'm sure the Reviewers of the final product be able to shed more light on
improvements on play. In the meantime I'm going to continue to steer for
complicated positions and backgames where I think I have (or had?) the
edge over JF. From what I've seen so far I'm definitely going to fork out
my 50 quid upgrade regardless of any of the above quibbles.

Geoff Oliver
Ealing, London, UK
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Backgame play  (Brian Sheppard, Feb 1997) 
Bearoff database bug  (Vince Mounts+, May 1998) 
Cube strategy  (Fredrik Dahl, July 1995) 
Doubling at 2-away, 2-away  (Michael Bo Hansen, May 1998) 
JF tackles New Ideas in Backgammon  (Nigel Gibbions+, Mar 1998) 
Review of JF Player 3.0  (Geoff Oliver, Apr 1997) 
Review of JF Tutor 1.0  (John Bazigos, Feb 1995)  [Long message]
Showdown in Texas  (Chuck Bower, July 1997) 
Strengths and weaknesses  (Daniel Murphy, Jan 1998)  [Long message]
What is a Jellyfish?  (John S Mamoun, Dec 1996) 
Why the name?  (Fredrik Dahl, Dec 1996) 

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Match Play at 2-away/2-away
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