Backgammon - Pure Strategy Reviewed

by Jake Jacobs
15 April 2019


Jake Jacobs

Marc Brockmann Olsen is certainly ambitious. His previous book promised to take the reader from "basics to badass;" his new one wants to teach us how to "think like a neural net." After reading both you can be on the toughest bar in town, and take on the toughest rolls, mowing them down by firing your eXtreme synapses! Or so one hopes.

I heard when I bought my copy that feedback was generally favorable, but ... English is Marc's second language, and for those obsessive about grammar and spelling the writing may be distracting. I won't join the chorus. His English is so much better than my Korean I wouldn't dream of criticizing it. He gets his ideas across, which is better than some who deploy their English as natives. And I found his frequent references to a "Rule of Thump" rather endearing, especially since it nearly always involved hitting.

I did find a recurring error that belongs not to him but to XG! Here is an example from page 40.



The book lists this as ND at -.026 and DT at -.426 for a loss of -.399 (the odd .001 due to rounding). It adds that to make this double correct one would need the opponent to drop 21.9% of the time.

Read in haste, repent at leisure. Which I did. I had the vague thought: "This doesn't seem right," but only pursued it when I returned from a nocturnal visit to the toilet, and instead of falling back asleep began analysing it. I did turn on the light, after many sleepless minutes, and thus found what I had begun to suspect, that there was a match score of 0-0 to 11. Why most of his positions, but not all, are at that score I can't say. (Nor can I say why his diagrams switch directions for four positions between pages 341-347.) It isn't quite "money," but it isn't otherwise an interesting score. Anyway, for money it would be a beaver, and one would need to take that into account. But for money, if DT the answer would not be 21.9%, it would be more like 28%. Hard to believe the given score changed things that much.
 
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Article text Copyright © 1999-2019 Jake Jacobs and GammonVillage Inc.

 
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