Climbing Jacobs Ladder

by Stick
5 March 2014


This month's article comes from a Phil Simborg recommendation. So, if you end up hating the article and think it was a waste of your time you know who to blame. However, if you find it insightful and useful then all the praise should be bestowed upon me as I'm the one who wrote it. It's a win/win for everyone.

Phil recently asked me how to take his game to a higher level. He seemed a bit concerned over the leaps he has seen some people make whereas he hasn't been able to make that large of an improvement when he feels he is logging a sufficient amount of backgammon hours. He mentioned other things that I will delve into but that's the basic question that I paraphrased.

First we need to separate the players into different groups. I think that players such as Phil who have been around backgammon for however many decades have a much tougher path when it comes to improving their game than someone who starts fresh and puts in the same amount of effort. The pre bot players played backgammon for years and years developing bad habits. They didn't have any all knowing bot to slap their hand when they'd make what we might even consider the simplest of mistakes today. Some of these bad habits became learned habits because the players of that era thought they were making the correct decisions. A couple easy example of this might be making the two point (or even three point) with an opening roll. In decades past before the onset of the computer age most players thought this was a horrible way to start off the game. They contended that you're putting two checkers deep into your inner board too early in the game. This aligned with another bad habit of theirs, playing backgames. They didn't like making these points because bg wisdom of the time said if things go wrong, no big deal, fall into a backgame! That's why they didn't like checkers so deep so early. It wasn't pure play and so many more of their games turned into attempted backgames than do today. The bots have helped teach us how hard it is to play a well timed backgame and that we should often strive to free ourselves from any such position as early as possible.

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