Fun and frustration

Forum Archive : Fun and frustration

Backgammon by mail

From:   MelRae
Date:   10 August 1997
Subject:   Re: Backgammon by e-mail?

adrian smyth wrote:
> Have any of you played backgammon by e-mail? Is it possible or just
> too awkward and any ideas how to avoid cheating? I don't know if this
> has been discussed before since I'm new to this group.  Thanks.
>                 Adrian

The following article was submitted by me recently for publication in
the Hong Kong Backgammon Club newsletter and I offer it here for the
amusement of all and as a cautionary example to Adrian.  (It is an
adaptation of a humorous essay by Woody Allen: The Gossage - Varbedian
Hope you like it,
Don Rae.

Dear John,

Thank you for your latest letter received today with your 14th move of
our fifth game.  I found it somewhat confusing at first since the move
you make (41 to make your 5 point) is not possible due to the fact that
I have held this point since the third move of the game.
However, by laboriously retracing each move made so far, I believe I can
identify your mistake (I played a 22 on the 3rd move to make your 5 from
my one point, perhaps you failed to record it correctly) and am
supplying below a diagram of the true position.  I have assumed that you
will correctly play the 41 to your 3 point, now that you are appraised
of the true state of affairs.  For my next play I have thrown 66 and am
leaving this anchor to make my 8 point and take a substantial lead in
the race.

Trusting that you will find my solution equitable,

Best regards,


Dear Don,

It was with some astonishment that I read your recent confused
communication.  What can you be thinking?  Has your delicate mental
condition taken a turn for the worse?  You include a match score in your
diagram of  5-4 in your favour in our 7 point match.  May I remind you
that I gammoned you on a 2 cube in our last game and that I am leading
Crawford-5?  The 22 that you mention to make my 5 point was in fact a 11
(I have checked the correspondence carefully).
I have therefore adjusted the position accordingly (as shown here).  You
will observe that you are unable to move sixes.  Bad luck!  66 was not
your best roll but actually your worst!
I throw a 55 to clear my 9 point (2) and move two (yes, two!) from 13 to
8.  The race situation is therefore quite the reverse!

Best wishes,


P.S.  Sorry about the stain on the page!  Bolognaise!

Dear John,

It is with a heavy heart that I conclude you must be completely cuckoo.
I cube.



Dear Don,

I have always enjoyed our matches by mail and valued your friendship.
For these reasons I am striving to take the most charitable view of your
recent extraordinary letter.
As explained in my last letter, the score is Crawford-5 to me.  You
therefore cannot cube.  Please take your roll.  I have triple checked
the position previously supplied to you and it is indubitably correct.

Best wishes as always,


P.S. I trust that the curry remnants have not rendered this illegible!

Dear John,

I confess to some difficulty in coming to terms with your assertion that
you are leading Crawford-5.  I suppose however that this is possible (I
am unable to conclusively verify this since I have recently started
recycling your correspondence for use in the bathroom) and for old
times sake am prepared to accept this and your diagram which locates my
anchor on your 3 point.
I roll 56 to hit your blot on my eleven point.  Since I have a closed
board I continue to roll 43, 32(picking up your other two blots), 65 and
finally 66 to open my six point and take off four men.  Your turn to
roll.  Looks like I will gammon for the match!  Such are the vagaries of
a dice game of course.  Sorry about that!

Warmest personal regards,


My dear Don,

I am speechless at your audacity.  gammon for the match.! 32 picking
up my other two blots!  WHAT other blots, may I ask.  I can only
recommend you waste no further time in seeking out the best professional
help, and I dont mean with your backgammon (which has always been
beyond salvation).
Frankly (and it pains me to be so blunt), I doubt that you genuinely
threw a 65 in the first place and have therefore rolled for you in an
effort to conclude this match in as orderly a way as possible.  You
throw 21 (bad luck!) and the only sensible option is for you to play 6
to 3, which I have done for you.  I throw 44 playing 8 to 4 (2) and 14
to 5.
(Editors note: A sentence is obliterated here by a crusty substance)
I trust that you will have recovered your feeble senses by the time this
reaches you,


Dear John,

I can see no other course of action at this point than to resign a
gammon on your behalf.  You lose $1000, neatly clearing our account.
Quits!  I suggest that we take a break for the moment from our contests
by mail as I now realise that I will never be able to communicate
effectively to you the importance of fair play and common decency, since
your odious letters have exposed you finally as an unprincipled weasel.
See you at the club on Monday then,

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Fun and frustration

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