Backgammon - From Basics to Badass Reviewed

by Jake Jacobs
7 August 2015


Jake Jacobs

I don't know Marc Brockmann Olsen, a testament to how long it has been since I played in the Nordic Open, his rapid rise to the heights of backgammon proficiency, or both. Marc is a former professional soccer player, an economics student, a Nordic Open Champion, and a captain of the Danish team for the Denmark versus the World event. He is the author of a previous book which is available only in Danish, but this current book, in the two years since its Danish-language edition appeared, has been purchased by "roughly half the members of the Danish Backgammon Federation," according to the book's back cover.

That's a great title. It is also indicative of the problem I had with the book.



This is from Page 34, "Concept no. 3, "The Prime." I think you can guess the correct play, but I see a few problems with this position.



This position is of my own devising. What's the answer here? I will let you think for a moment.

Marc deals succinctly with most positions in a single page. For the potion above under the "Concept" he urges the reader to: "Build a prime as soon as possible." And then he explains that advice: "One of the primary goals in the opening and middle game is to build a strong prime (a blockade). For this purpose points built in your prime zone are obviously very good. Points built in the outer board (the quadrant on your side of the board outside your home board, i.e. from the 7-point to the 12-point) are also good. Although they are often not directly part of your prime they are still functioning as blocking points when the opponent's back checkers are trying to run away from your home board. Outer board points also act as active building checkers for your prime."

Back to my problem; have you solved it? The correct answer is: Four. Because if this were a beginner's book the question I would be asking is: How many different new points may be built with this role? For a beginner seeing the possibilities is momentous. It is a learned skill, truly "basic."
 
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