$10.00
Recommend
22 
 Thumb up
 Hide
64 Posts
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 

Backgammon» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Intellectually I know playing this game takes skill, but... rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
flag msg tools
designer
ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
badge
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
mbmbmbmbmb
1. Introduction


I ill admit that in past I have openly derided and demeaned this game. Those inclined to search for such remarks from me about this game will probably find them. Yet, when I do bother to think about my experience with this game, which I have played since I was a small boy, I know at least intellectually that a level of skill must be involved in playing it. After all, given a group of players in a hypothetical tournament, the winner of the tourney would simply not be random nor close to it. So, I accept publicly that my gut feeling reaction to this game, that is mindless roll and move, must be wrong. Moreover, I want to "get" this game because I know it is a classic. Forms of this game have been played back to earliest antiquity, notably the Roman Duodecim Scriptorum. Yet, still after the better part of forty years playing, I find that however much I want to learn to appreciate the game, I simply don't.

As such, I'm going to put aside my instinctive reaction to the game, and I'm going to talk intellectually about the game. Frankly, the input of devotees of this game is entirely welcome; I want to appreciate this game. At least, I want to learn to respect it as a classic game. A game only becomes a timeless classic if generation after generation of people play and presumably enjoy the game. If they did not enjoy it, they would presumably not continue to play it, certainly not teach it to their children. In other words, I am convinced that I am failing to see the merits of this game but that the merits must be there.

2. The game I know.


First, I grew up in a nautical family. In theory, I knew (probably) that some people played with men starting on the board, but that's not how I or much of anyone I knew played. Everyone played Acey-Deucey. The rules at that link are essentially the rules that I have known since boyhood, but a few points do bear mentioning. First, if ever a player could not use all dice individually in a roll, that player loses the roll. This include doubles and acey-deucey. Bearing off is only by exact count as if the "off" position were an invisible adjacent pip. These are listed variants at the link. Where what I have always played differs is that all pieces must be entered before any can then move as if all pieces started on the bar; if thereafter a piece is bumped off so that it goes onto the bar, then that piece must be moved back into play first before any other piece. If that cannot be done, the roll and turn are lost. Second, while all pieces must be moved into the home area before any are born off, pieces can move within the home area to prevent loosing a roll.

I've never understood the point of the doubling cube. It seems to only matter if one keeps score. If I have ever played two games of backgammon in a row back to back, I cannot remember doing so. Yet the only coring I know for the game would count how many pieces are left when one player bears off his last piece. So, what is the doubling cube for exactly?

3. Gameplay?

Here I'm going to try to figure out where skill can come into play. Using the rolls wisely to avoid letting pieces be vulnerable to being bumped off onto the bar if at all possible is a given. Alternately bumping off pieces when possible to set back the other player's progress is given. Yet on has to use a roll if one can and so the margin within which to apply such skill seems markedly limited.

Even though two dice are rolled, each die is treated separately for purposes of movement. Hence the distribution of roll is not Gaussian but even, as if one simply rolled a single die twice each turn, discounting lost throws. Still, the average of possible rolls of two dice is 7. Meanwhile a player has 15 men to move along 24 pips, plus 1 extra for "off". That means that a player will minimally on average roll the dice 15*25/7 or roughly 53 or 54 times in a game. That certainly gives enough scope for the statistics to even out so that skill in utilizing the probabilities should have scope to enter into play.

So, aficionados of this game, what am I missing here? Every time I try to bring myself to appreciate what makes this game a classic, I find that for me it just falls flat. I don't perceive any of it as exciting nor tense; I don't see where skill comes into play. So, I feel like I am simply missing the appeal of the game.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Gordon
United States
Meridian
Idaho
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
So, what is the doubling cube for exactly?


The doubling cube is used mainly for two things:

1) Gambling. If you're playing a series of games for, say, a dollar a game, the doubling cube changes those odds. If I feel I am in a superior position I can offer you a double by turning the cube to the '2' side. If you accept, this is now a $2 game. If you refuse, it's game over and you pay $1. If you accept and later feel that you are in a better position, you can offer me a double. If I accept, the stakes are now $4. If I refuse, I pay you $2 and we start over.

2) Match Play. Backgammon is best played as a series of games. Let's say we're playing to 7 points. Each game is worth one point. Just like above, the player who feels he is in a better position may offer a double. If accepted, the game is worth 2 points; if rejected then the player who offered the double gets a point and the game is reset. First to reach the predetermined number of points wins the match.

In both cases, once a double has been accepted, only the player who accepted the most recent double can offer the next. Either player may offer the first double.

Doubling in this way also helps end games where one player has an obvious advantage and both players are simply going through the motions to finish the game.

Quote:
Yet one has to use a roll if one can and so the margin within which to apply such skill seems markedly limited.


I think we just disagree on this one. To me, when I first started playing Backgammon, one of the biggest strategies I noticed was how to use 'bad' rolls. The more I played, the more I felt that the winner was often the player who was better able to manage their bad rolls. They're going to happen, so learning what to do with them is a very important part of the game.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Asimakis
Australia
Sydney
NSW
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Managing all your rolls is the key.
Each roll of two dice gives you literally thousands of possible moves. (I haven't done the maths.)
There are however realistically only very few options, often one or two, that are viable moves.
Part of picking the best move is looking ahead to not leave yourself in a vulnerable position when the inevitable "bad roll" turns up, as it surely will.
You can minimize your exposure, and sometimes eliminate it.
When the bad roll comes along, deal with it the best way you can to minimize the damage from it. Hopefully your previous moves haven't left you in a really vulnerable position.
You get better at reading the board and managing all your rolls the more you play.
Practise very much improves your game.
This is not a dice fest, better players wipe the floor with newbs.
Backgammon has survived through the centuries because it has depth in its tactical play, discoverable with repeat play, and because it is a lot of fun.
Great game.

Irini Pasi,

PLB.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Games are not movies or stories; they're vehicles for creative decision making.
badge
"Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade." (Marcel Proust)
mbmbmbmbmb
kevster wrote:
To me, when I first started playing Backgammon, one of the biggest strategies I noticed was how to use 'bad' rolls. The more I played, the more I felt that the winner was often the player who was better able to manage their bad rolls. They're going to happen, so learning what to do with them is a very important part of the game.

This.

I'm no Backgammon expert by any means, but I'm a fan and have been playing for years. I have to admit that a big part of the appeal for me is simply the luck factor. As a scientist, Moshe, you'll be quick to say there's no such thing as luck--and chance is a better term ... and all that. But as an emotionally driven human being, I still like throwing the dice and hoping for just the right combination to turn up. It's very satisfying for me to get a 6-1 or 3-1 on my first roll, for instance. Or to roll double 5s at the end of a game, when I have four stones on the 5 point and my opponent has two on the 1 point. Though there was no skill involved, I still experience a rush of delight at moments like those.

But if you're looking for opportunities for rewarding application of skill, I think it comes in three ways in Backgammon:

1. Calculating the best use of your dice roll (taking probabilities into account, of course). Maybe three times out of four the best use is pretty obvious, but that fourth time you have to stop and think. And if you get a particularly bad roll, or if the board situation is very close or difficult, you have to really rack your brain.

2. Sizing up the board situation and recognizing strategic turning points--i.e., when you need to switch from a running game to a blocking game, or when a back game is in order. In the latter, you'll often want to counterintuitively leave lone pieces exposed to capture.

3. Knowing when to offer or accept a double. To do that, you have to be able to study the board situation and gauge from experience what your chances of winning are. The match score also figures in.

So, basically all you're ever doing is calculating probabilities and doing whatever is likely to give you an advantage. But the calculation (or estimation, or intuition--however you do it) occurs on various levels: the dice roll, the board position, and the match position.

Oh, and there might be some psychology involved as well (especially when using the doubling cube, which is essentially a dare).

It's still a very dicey game, though. If you're the kind of person who wants clear feedback on the decisions you make, Backgammon may not be for you. At best, you get fuzzy feedback: any particular game might be won or lost because of chance, and skill only shows up over the long run.

I like that myself, because developing skill and getting lucky both make me happy. In Backgammon, skill can often make up for lack of luck--or vice versa.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Thompson
United States
Homewood
Illinois
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Whole books have been written about the doubling cube. Is it even backgammon without it?
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jumbit
China
Zhejiang
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm in the same boat. I have tried to like backgammon but I have come to the conclusion that I just don't like abstracts, even a unique one like this that uses dice. The gambling aspect doesn't help either.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon
United States
Redmond
Washington
flag msg tools
Plaatsvervangende Schaamte
badge
mbmbmb
whac3 wrote:

I've never understood the point of the doubling cube. It seems to only matter if one keeps score. If I have ever played two games of backgammon in a row back to back, I cannot remember doing so. Yet the only coring I know for the game would count how many pieces are left when one player bears off his last piece. So, what is the doubling cube for exactly?

...

So, aficionados of this game, what am I missing here? Every time I try to bring myself to appreciate what makes this game a classic, I find that for me it just falls flat. I don't perceive any of it as exciting nor tense; I don't see where skill comes into play. So, I feel like I am simply missing the appeal of the game.


You are missing match play. This is where the cube is used to mitigate luck. Play a series of games where the first to some number of points wins. The cube increases the number of points a given game is worth. Players use the cube to make opponents pay a penalty for trying to get lucky in bad situations. Proper cube technique is a whole game in and of itself.

A single game in isolation may appear very random, even if you have great checker technique.

Backgammon really shines in match play with the cube. Playing a match to 7 points is the bare minimum to overcome luck. Serious tournaments play matches from 17 to 29 points.

Acey-Deucey can be very luck intensive if you are not familiar with tactical checker play. Freak rolls can cause havoc in A-2, even more so than in classic backgammon. Playing A-2 consistantly for the win is a challenge. You would need long matches for the skilled player to clearly show dominance over an experienced amature.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Games are not movies or stories; they're vehicles for creative decision making.
badge
"Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade." (Marcel Proust)
mbmbmbmbmb
Tompy wrote:
Whole books have been written about the doubling cube. Is it even backgammon without it?

Yes, it absolutely is. The doubling cube is a device introduced in the 1920s by gamblers, and it's really incongruous with this classic board game that had been around for centuries before that.

Today, the cube is de rigeur among tournament players in the USA, western Europe, and some other countries. But in Greece and the Middle East, where Backgammon has been extremely popular for many generations (and is the national game of several countries), use of the doubling cube is rare.

With or without the cube, skilled Backgammon players will win much more often than unskilled players in the long run, over the course of many games. In the short run, with or without the cube, chance plays a big role in determining the winner of a single game.

What the cube does is cut lopsided games short and reward players for skill at reading the game situation (and the opponent as well) and knowing when to issue a dare or to accept or reject a dare.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Thompson
United States
Homewood
Illinois
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I was being sarcastic.

But Patrick, as usual I always learn something interesting from your posts. Or I at least have something to think about afterwards.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Spyros Gkiouzepas
Greece
THESSALONIKI
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

After a burnout in backgammon since high school until I was 24 I can tell you that in my opinion it is much simpler than it looks, especially if you compare it with other games we geeks play. It's charm is the social aspect of it, as almost everybody knows how to play (at least in Greece) and the fact that luck and short playing time make it a light hearted affair


(we play three variants in Greece - one after the other repeat until someone gets to 7 points, scoring double if the opponent hasn't picked any stone from the board)
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
flag msg tools
designer
ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
badge
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the replies. I suppose that I was looking for suggestions of how to think about the game figuring that I'd be playing single games.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Todd Redden
United States
Manchester
Connecticut
flag msg tools
Nut'n honey
badge
If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything - Mark Twain
mbmbmbmbmb
Avoiding capture is NOT always the best approach. What you want to do is draw the opponent in to capturing your stone while at the same time leaving their stone open for capture. You want to try to lock one of your opponents stones into their home area to get them on the bar, enabling you to get successive rolls without reply. You REALLY WANT to set up a table where the opponent thinks he is in a better position so he will accept the double, then turn it around. It is really not a simple game.
3 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
flag msg tools
designer
ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
badge
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
mbmbmbmbmb
tmredden wrote:
Avoiding capture is NOT always the best approach. What you want to do is draw the opponent in to capturing your stone while at the same time leaving their stone open for capture. You want to try to lock one of your opponents stones into their home area to get them on the bar, enabling you to get successive rolls without reply. You REALLY WANT to set up a table where the opponent thinks he is in a better position so he will accept the double, then turn it around. It is really not a simple game.

What does the doubling cube actually do during any single game?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simon Blome
Germany
Herne
NRW
flag msg tools
Essen 2011
mbmbmb
whac3 wrote:
tmredden wrote:
Avoiding capture is NOT always the best approach. What you want to do is draw the opponent in to capturing your stone while at the same time leaving their stone open for capture. You want to try to lock one of your opponents stones into their home area to get them on the bar, enabling you to get successive rolls without reply. You REALLY WANT to set up a table where the opponent thinks he is in a better position so he will accept the double, then turn it around. It is really not a simple game.

What does the doubling cube actually do during any single game?


You shouldn't think of Backgammon as a single game experience. That would more often give you random results (e.g. an opponent in a worse endgame position rolls several doubles in a row). That can happen and if you play only 1 game, Backgammon could feel luck-driven.

Modern Backgammon is about playing up to a certain number of points using the doubling cube. That's where Backgammon truly shines and I promise you a unique experience of tension. The doubling cube is essential for that experience because of different aspects:
it shortens decided games, there is always a potential threat to end the game immediately, it adds another layer of interesting psychological decisions.

We usually play until 7 points. Like in exciting sport events you can achieve glorious victories, great comebacks and memorable games.
Try and enjoy it!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
flag msg tools
designer
ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
badge
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
mbmbmbmbmb
1. How then does scoring work if you play only to 7 pts?
2. What exactly happens if the doubling cube is declined?

EDIT:
Also the responses I'm getting above seem to be saying that there rally just isn't much skill in a single game and that I'd have to play this *7*!! times in a row for the skill to show up. To use an analogy, this seems like saying if you don't see the attraction of poking yourself with a sharp stick, just do it over and over again.

Surely there has to be something about individual games that would make me want to play it over and over? Can somebody who loves the game please explain to me the basic principles of skilled play, i.e., the key notions and what they mean, so that I'll want to play the game more than once?

I'm not trolling here but am feeling frustrated that I think they must be an aspect to this game I'm just not perceiving and I want to.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Games are not movies or stories; they're vehicles for creative decision making.
badge
"Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade." (Marcel Proust)
mbmbmbmbmb
whac3 wrote:
1. How then does scoring work if you play only to 7 pts?

As you probably know, a single win in Backgammon is worth 1 pt; a double win (gammon) is worth 2 pts, and a triple win (backgammon) is worth 3 pts. So, you just play game after game until one player has 7 pts or more, whereupon that player wins the match.

Quote:
2. What exactly happens if the doubling cube is declined?

That game ends immediately, and the player who offered the cube gets 1 pt times the number showing on the cube. If neither player has reached 7 pts yet, the next game begins.

Quote:
EDIT:
Also the responses I'm getting above seem to be saying that there rally just isn't much skill in a single game and that I'd have to play this *7*!! times in a row for the skill to show up. To use an analogy, this seems like saying if you don't see the attraction of poking yourself with a sharp stick, just do it over and over again.

Surely there has to be something about individual games that would make me want to play it over and over? Can somebody who loves the game please explain to me the basic principles of skilled play, i.e., the key notions and what they mean, so that I'll want to play the game more than once?

I'm not trolling here but am feeling frustrated that I think they must be an aspect to this game I'm just not perceiving and I want to.

Well, here's a short article on five Backgammon strategies.

Though your moves are limited by the dice you roll, you still always have to think about what you're doing with your pieces: running, blocking, setting up a point, hitting a blot, filling your home table, setting up an anchor on the opponent's table, or whatever. Every move serves a particular purpose--sometimes more than one. Yet, the intended purpose may change shortly if you don't get the rolls you need; you might have to abandon your effort to block and try running instead, for instance.

There is room for skill even when playing single games. You'll generally lose if you play randomly and your opponent plays intelligently. But a beginner can get lucky enough to beat an expert in a single game every now and then.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simon Blome
Germany
Herne
NRW
flag msg tools
Essen 2011
mbmbmb
whac3 wrote:
1. How then does scoring work if you play only to 7 pts?
2. What exactly happens if the doubling cube is declined?


Some examples:

Game #1 starts
Player A wins without any doubling action (1 point).
A 1-0 B

Game #2
Player B offers doubling in a better position. A declines and the game immediately ends with a win for B (1 point).
A 1-1 B

Game #3
A offers doubling, B takes (the end result of game #3 will be doubled). From this point on only B can double again before he rolls his dice. Player A wins with a Gammon (2 points).
2 points x 2 (doubling cube) = 4 points for A
A 5-1 B

Game #4
Player A offers doubling, B takes (result x2). B offers doubling. A declines and the game ends with a win for B (1 point x2).
A 5-3 B

and so on until one player reaches 7 points.


There is an important rule which you can use for match play (we always play with it):
Crawford rule - When a player first reaches a score one point short of winning, neither player may use the doubling cube for the following game (Crawford game). After the Crawford game doubling is allowed again.


An extreme example in a match up to 11 points:

Game #1
A offers doubling, B takes (x2). B offers doubling, A takes (x4).
Let's say B wins:

case a) B wins (1 point) -> A 0-4 B (pretty bad start for A)
case b) B wins with a Gammon (2 points) -> A 0-8 B (match almost over)
case c) B wins with a Backgammon (3 points) -> A 0-12 B (Overkill!)


If A had declined the x4-double:

A 0-2 B (nothing special)
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Games are not movies or stories; they're vehicles for creative decision making.
badge
"Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade." (Marcel Proust)
mbmbmbmbmb
whac3 wrote:
What does the doubling cube actually do during any single game?

If declined, it ends the game before it's played out and determines how many points the winner gets. If accepted, it increases the point value of the game.

Hence, it's basically a dare. The player who pushes the cube is saying, "I'm so sure I'm going to win that I'm willing to double the stakes. Do you think your chances of winning are good enough to risk that?"
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Games are not movies or stories; they're vehicles for creative decision making.
badge
"Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade." (Marcel Proust)
mbmbmbmbmb
Tompy wrote:
I was being sarcastic.

Oops.
blush
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon
United States
Redmond
Washington
flag msg tools
Plaatsvervangende Schaamte
badge
mbmbmb
whac3 wrote:
I'm not trolling here but am feeling frustrated that I think they must be an aspect to this game I'm just not perceiving and I want to.


It is entirely possible that backgammon is not your cup of tea. Trying to force yourself to enjoy a game you don't would be frustrating.

My love of backgammon is linked to my love of dice. As it turns out, there is enough skill in backgammon to make it exceptionally attractive to me.

If you don't like the basics of play, playing a long series to find the skill associated with the doubling cube may not be productive.

There are many good games in the world, spend time loving another one.
8 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
flag msg tools
designer
ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
badge
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
mbmbmbmbmb
JonPrud wrote:
whac3 wrote:
I'm not trolling here but am feeling frustrated that I think they must be an aspect to this game I'm just not perceiving and I want to.


It is entirely possible that backgammon is not your cup of tea. Trying to force yourself to enjoy a game you don't would be frustrating.

My love of backgammon is linked to my love of dice. As it turns out, there is enough skill in backgammon to make it exceptionally attractive to me.

If you don't like the basics of play, playing a long series to find the skill associated with the doubling cube may not be productive.

There are many good games in the world, spend time loving another one.

My goal is not to love the game but to learn how to respect it. Think of it like reading a novel in a high school or college English class. You don't enjoy the novel personally but want to appreciate how and why others regard it as a classic piece of literature.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon
United States
Redmond
Washington
flag msg tools
Plaatsvervangende Schaamte
badge
mbmbmb
whac3 wrote:
My goal is not to love the game but to learn how to respect it. Think of it like reading a novel in a high school or college English class. You don't enjoy the novel personally but want to appreciate how and why others regard it as a classic piece of literature.


An admirable goal.

To draw upon your analogy - trying to judge backgammon without either a gambling perspective or match play (i.e. only a single game experience), would be like judging a work of literature by reading a random chapter.
9 
 Thumb up
0.50
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simon Blome
Germany
Herne
NRW
flag msg tools
Essen 2011
mbmbmb
whac3 wrote:

My goal is not to love the game but to learn how to respect it. Think of it like reading a novel in a high school or college English class. You don't enjoy the novel personally but want to appreciate how and why others regard it as a classic piece of literature.


In short:

thumbsup 13 dice (those nasty little traitors) BUT:
thumbsup luck is a minor factor (at least in tournaments)
thumbsup feeling of a race
thumbsup several different strategies (meaningful long-term decisions)
thumbsup lots of tactics (short-term calculations like captures, possible traps)
thumbsup statistical knowledge is helpful
thumbsup doubling cube as a double-edged weapon
thumbsup no draws
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Koppang
United States
Westmont
Illinois
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
"It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy..."
badge
"For the listener, who listens in the snow, and, nothing himself, beholds nothing that is not there and the nothing that is." -- Wallace Stevens
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't mean to seem flippant, Moshe, but perhaps a review of the doubling cube rules would help you. Backgammon Galore has a very readable set of rules. Just scroll down to the doubling section.

If you would like more information on match-play, and some of the longterm decisions involved, I would also recommend that you take a look at their page on the subject. The amount of forethought and math involved can be staggering.

That all said, there is plenty of skill involved in a standard, single game of Backgammon. Have you only played Acey-Duecy, or have you tried the now standard setup? Deciding how to play your checkers properly can be infuriatingly complex in many situations. While there are patterns to memorize, the same sort of look-ahead that one would use in, say, Chess, doesn't always work well. You need pattern recognition, look-ahead, and a firm grasp of odds. You also need to be able to take calculated risk that may leave you exposed. The article Patrick linked to above is a very nice overview of basic strategy (also check out the home page for Backgammon Galore for additional articles), but, as many have already said, that is just the tip of the iceberg.

If anything, perhaps you need to play against a skilled opponent just to see how often he will beat you. Rather than words here on a forum, the path to respecting a game may be a demonstration of skill. How about a computer opponent, like Motif?
7 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Games are not movies or stories; they're vehicles for creative decision making.
badge
"Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade." (Marcel Proust)
mbmbmbmbmb
Here's another short online article to take a look at.

It focuses on just one particular move in Backgammon--making the opponent's 5 point. Reading the article should give you an appreciation of how important that one move is. And after you've read it, you can sit back and think, Man, that was just one move out of all the moves in a game of Backgammon! If so much thought goes into that particular positional consideration, how much more is there to this game?
6 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.