The Backgammon Pentathlon

by Douglas Zare
3 May 2011

Douglas Zare

Backgammon match play is like a pentathlon from track and field. An athlete training for a pentathlon usually concentrates on one of the five events at a time, perhaps running one time, and then throwing a javelin another. In many mixed games, it is good to train for the components separately, but without a score for each event as in a pentathlon, it is easy to overlook weaknesses. Backgammon players tend to play matches to prepare for matches without separating the component scores. If you play matches to 7, which scores do you understand best? Where do you tend to make the most checker play errors, and where do you make cube errors? A tie at 5-away each is more similar to 2-away 4-away than running is to throwing a javelin, but they still deserve to be studied separately.

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