Do you want to get trounced in backgammon?

September 14, 2006 | By | 3 Replies More

Yesterday I met an anesthesiologist who brought up the topic of backgammon at a deposition.  I mentioned to him that, many years ago, a friend tried to teach me how to play backgammon.  At first, I thought it was essentially a game of chance.  When the friend and I first began playing, we each won about half the time. 

That was before I read a book about basic backgammon strategy.   A couple of hours of reading changed my stats dramatically.  I started winning 4 out of 5 games against that same friend, simply by using about a dozen basic tips.

Yesterday, the anesthesiologist lit up as we discussed backgammon.  He has spent considerable time (much more than I have) learning higher level strategies.  

“If you want to really improve your game,” he said, “there is a free shareware version of backgammon that will trounce you.  It plays world class backgammon.” 

It’s called GNU backgammon and you can download it right here. Here’s what the About page says about GNU backgammon: 

GNU Backgammon (gnubg) is for playing and analysing backgammon positions, games and matches. It’s based on a neural network. In the past twelve months it has made enormous progress. It currently plays at about the level of a championship flight tournament player.

The software is loaded with features and options, including numerous ways to analyze an ongoing game.  It is a great learning tool, also thanks to the “hints” function.  If you want a further tutorial on using GNU backgammon, check out this page from the Backgammon International Group.

I downloaded it tonight and promptly got trounced.  I’m sharing this link with anyone else who wants to get trounced. Maybe we can all form a masochist’s club.  Truly, good luck.  You’ll need it.

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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. BG says:

    I too have benefited from a little big of reading about backgammon. That also goes for games like texas hold'em, chess, and probably most things in general. Rather than try and figure out the best strategies over repeated trials and failures, simply copy the experts, and then go from there. I can't wait to download this program, I will let you know how my games turn out, but I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to split games with the comp.

  2. Scholar says:

    You may enjoy this link to Kramnik vs Deep Fritz.
    http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2006/11/kra
    The greatest blunder by a grandmaster ever, you should be able to spot it, although I didn't for some reason or other.

  3. Dr. Smug says:

    Here is a spectacular compilation of chess "brilliancies" which can change your whole perception of the game. It really shows how different the game is played at higher levels. What seems (to the amateur) like utter disregard for the normal values of the pieces, can result in positional advantages which far outweigh the material losses.
    http://www.chessmaniac.com/Games/MyChessViewer/Br

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