Best of the Backgammon Books - Part II

by Stick
30 October 2013


This month we'll continue with hand selecting positions from previously published written material covering Backgammon with the Giants Neil Kazaross by Ortega and Kleinman and Greiner Versus Marmorstein by Kit Woolsey. The first goes through three important live matches of Neil's from 1999 and includes commentary from Neil himself. Woolsey's book is from the final match of the Championship of Great Britain held in Malage, Spain in 1991 though not published until 1994.

I purposely listed the dates of publishing because for newer players to backgammon like myself it's quite fascinating to see how far the game has come in a seemingly short period of time thanks to the bots (JellyFish, Snowie, GNU, Extreme Gammon, etc...) To me it would be quite a trip to sit down with Kit today and go through his commentary from '94 and see how much his opinion has changed over the last two decades. Kit, as we all know, is one who has kept up with the bots and reshaped his game over the years. I noticed early game checker play theory especially was blindingly awful when re-reviewing these works. It is easy to see why a new player to the game with some real drive can improve at a rapid rate nowadays. I've always considered myself blessed in a way to not have played in the days before the bots. I didn't get all these bad habits in my game like those who have been playing for the last 30+ years have. Having to relearn something you have been doing for years on end is much harder in my opinion than starting from a clean slate.

Enough with the small talk, let's skip ahead to the finals of the Venice tournament where Neil played another opponent you may recognize, Francois Tardieu. We are already at Neil leading 5 away 12 away with an early game 63 to play. We will run into a similar problem often enough. Do we anchor up? If so, which anchor is better?

is Player 2

score: 3
pip: 138
15 point match
pip: 148
score: 10

is Player 1
to play 63

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