New Backgammon Positions

by Douglas Zare
1 February 2009

Douglas Zare

Backgammon remains exciting to experienced players and comprehensible to beginners because most games have both easy and tough decisions. Several moves in a row may present simple decisions, but a few decisions per game are difficult even for experts, whether we realize they are difficult or not.

It is likely that the person with the most backgammon experience ever is still alive, and indeed, may be under 40. While the checker play rules of (international) backgammon have not changed much for hundreds of years (see Hoyle's 1745 book on backgammon), computer backgammon allows us to play much more, both against other people on servers such as FIBS, and against bots. I've been playing backgammon seriously for just under 10 years, but I've played tens of thousands of games. It would have taken several decades of live play to get as much experience before computer backgammon. And yet, I often encounter decisions I recognize as new, or even of new types, and I believe this is true even for those who practice more intensely than I do.

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