Tutorial: Walter Trice - Backgammon Boot Camp

Final Exam

04 Oct 2002 - by Walter Trice

Boot camp can't last forever. If you've read and digested the previous 59 articles in this series you're not a beginner anymore. I will continue writing beginner/intermediate material for GammonVillage but in the form of match annotation.


Rating:  5.00
"Backgammon Boot Camp" Archive

Final Exam

04 Oct 2002 - by Walter Trice

Boot camp can't last forever. If you've read and digested the previous 59 articles in this series you're not a beginner anymore. I will continue writing beginner/intermediate material for GammonVillage but in the form of match annotation.

Rating:  5.00

How To Be A Winner

27 Sep 2002 - by Walter Trice

What follows is an attempt to identify the traits of the players who seem to be most successful in turning their abilities and knowledge into tournament victories.

Rating:  4.72

Attacking Priorities

20 Sep 2002 - by Walter Trice

With the right rolls a backgammon attack can be so simple but sometimes the choices are quite difficult. For instance, what if a roll can be used to hit a blot or make a point, but not both? Or, make a point and escape a back man?

Rating:  4.93

Attacking Doubles III

13 Sep 2002 - by Walter Trice

This week we will conclude our survey of doubling positions from the 1981 World Championship match between Lee Genud and Joe Dwek, the subject of Bill Robertie's first book.

Rating:  4.67

Attacking Doubles II

06 Sep 2002 - by Walter Trice

We continue our survey of attacking doubles from the match that was the subject of Bill Robertie's "Red Book," Lee Genud vs. Joe Dwek: The 1981 World Championship of Backgammon.

Rating:  4.92

Attacking Doubles

30 Aug 2002 - by Walter Trice

Good doubles based on attacking threats are quite common. An impending attack often justifies a twist of the doubling cube and successful attacking action can result in quick, large increases in equity.

Rating:  5.00

Middlegame Attacking Play

23 Aug 2002 - by Walter Trice

Skillful attacking play collects more points and wins more matches than any other phase of backgammon strategy and it's easy to overlook powerful attacking plays since they often violate what we tend to think of as positional "norms".

Rating:  4.89

Build Or Split?

16 Aug 2002 - by Walter Trice

Checker play in prime vs. prime positions can pose some thorny problems. Offensive and defensive goals are often equally valid in these positions, so it usually comes down to what goal the actual roll of the dice fits best with.

Rating:  5.00

Prime Time

09 Aug 2002 - by Walter Trice

Positions in which both sides have effective primes are unstable, and they tend to reach a crucial point quickly.

Rating:  4.88

Prime And Variations

02 Aug 2002 - by Walter Trice

Study can improve your game considerably, but it also allows you to make new and different errors. The great dangers are mis-remembering the details of a position and generalizing it further than it can safely stretch.

Rating:  5.00

Escape Or Crash?

26 Jul 2002 - by Walter Trice

Backgammon positions in which the first player to roll a 6 wins are not easy to find, even if you permit impossible ones.

Rating:  4.92

Prime Vs. Prime

19 Jul 2002 - by Walter Trice

Top experts probably consider the most difficult problems in backgammon to be prime vs. prime cube action problems, with prime vs. prime checker play also close to the top of the list.

Rating:  4.90

Don't Eat The Checkers!

12 Jul 2002 - by Walter Trice

Although too pure a style of play can be a costly tendency in general, leading to a lot of lost races, once a backgame structure has arisen both sides have good reasons to cut loose and make the bold positional plays.

Rating:  5.00

Backgame Cube Action III

05 Jul 2002 - by Walter Trice

Now we look at what happens when the backgame begins to bear fruit, and the backgame player considers doubling or redoubling. Cube action problems of this type tend to be very difficult, and good players sometimes make giant blunders.

Rating:  5.00

Backgame Cube Action II

27 Jun 2002 - by Walter Trice

What makes a backgame well-timed? Timing is mobility. A backgame is well-timed if the backgame player can reasonably expect to maintain a mobile position for at least as long as his opponent can.

Rating:  4.95

Backgame Cube Action

21 Jun 2002 - by Walter Trice

It is tempting to say "hardly ever" double a well-timed backgame and leave it at that. It isn't that sound doubles of well-timed backgames don't exist, but rather that the common reason for doubling against a backgame is that it is not well-timed.

Rating:  5.00

Forward Or Backward?

14 Jun 2002 - by Walter Trice

Some positions and rolls call for the backgame approach; others for immediate aggression. And in many situations the best play is one that balances both options, trying to grab a middle game advantage while preserving the backgame option.

Rating:  5.00

Backgame Bear-In

07 Jun 2002 - by Walter Trice

Bearing in against a backgame is a lot like bearing in against any deep anchor but there are a few tactical twists that are unique to the backgame bear-in.

Rating:  5.00

Proto-Backgame Tactics

31 May 2002 - by Walter Trice

In an early game blot-hitting contest, vying for initiative and position, one player will take the brunt of the hits, and both will need to start thinking about how their moves will affect the shape of the backgame that may arise.

Rating:  4.92

Backgame Tactics

24 May 2002 - by Walter Trice

The real problem with the backgame is that it tends to bust. To get a good backgame ending you need to be down 90 pips or so, while retaining enough mobility and structure to be able to take the offensive when you get your shot.

Rating:  5.00

Basic Backgame

17 May 2002 - by Walter Trice

The backgame player spends many rolls "on the ropes" holding a pair of anchors in his opponent's home board. He freely invites his opponent to hit blots, which often works to his advantage.

Rating:  4.93


10 May 2002 - by Walter Trice

One of the basic techniques for cooking up a little short-order luck is called diversification. Diversification is the opposite of the duplication tactic discussed last week.

Rating:  4.82


03 May 2002 - by Walter Trice

Duplication is not a tactical principle in its own right, but it is a very useful way to spot plays that limit your opponent's opportunities on his next roll.

Rating:  4.91

Gaining Time

26 Apr 2002 - by Walter Trice

There are so many good reasons for hitting blots that one can easily overlook the most basic: putting your opponent off balance for one roll. This week our backgammon recruits get a lesson about the tempo play.

Rating:  4.93

Bringing It Home

19 Apr 2002 - by Walter Trice

It's hard to distinguish between a fisherman's tale of "the one that got away" and a backgammon player's story about the "incredible dice" that cost him the big game... bad luck often results from some forgotten (or unnoticed) technical error.

Rating:  4.94

Staying Alert

12 Apr 2002 - by Walter Trice

Many amateur players of mind games like backgammon neglect their "inner" game? The development of the ability to stay focused, alert, and calm, and to strike a proper balance of objectivity and creativity are surely as important in backgammon as in golf.

Rating:  4.93

Staying Connected

05 Apr 2002 - by Walter Trice

Want to know the secret of winning one-point Nackgammon? All is revealed here. The concept of "connectivity" is one of the most important keys to backgammon strategy.

Rating:  5.00

How To Win Four Points

29 Mar 2002 - by Walter Trice

At the 4-away scores the possibility of a doubled gammon is so significant that it completely changes the nature of the game.

Rating:  5.00

Four Points To Go

22 Mar 2002 - by Walter Trice

Match scores at which one player needs exactly four points are the most crucial and the most difficult in tournament backgammon.

Rating:  4.86

Gammons & The 3-Point Match

15 Mar 2002 - by Walter Trice

Gammons loom large in the 3-point match. A doubled gammon always wins it, and after the first game one player or the other can win it with an undoubled gammon.

Rating:  5.00

Racing Cubes In 3-Pointers

08 Mar 2002 - by Walter Trice

The three-point match contains a number of distinctive doubling cube decisions which in almost all cases are quite different from money play cube action.

Rating:  4.75

What's It All About, Snowie?

01 Mar 2002 - by Walter Trice

Today you need to know the lingo even if you never play with the bots. Three-ply cubeful equity? Truncated rollout? Variance reduction? These phrases were unknown to the backgammon world a decade ago.

Rating:  4.67

Life With Snowie

22 Feb 2002 - by Walter Trice

For a new Snowie user the analysis can be quite a revelation. So what is Snowie and how does it work? Walter shows us how to save a match file on a backgammon server, enter it into Snowie and more...

Rating:  4.33

Dawn Of The Bots

15 Feb 2002 - by Walter Trice

Where did Backgammon bots come from, how do they work and what exactly can we learn from them? Walter provides the answers to these and other questions including how to use Snowie during the next couple of weeks.

Rating:  4.36

The Mysterious Two-Point Match

08 Feb 2002 - by Walter Trice

The optimal doubling strategy in a two-point match is that it rarely hurts to double when your opponent can still take. But to double with a disadvantage? From an even score?

Rating:  4.91

Match Play Basics - Part I

01 Feb 2002 - by Walter Trice

The fundamental structure of backgammon match play is simple but the significance of a lead in a match can be a little deceptive, psychologically.

Rating:  4.88

The Cube And The Ace Point

25 Jan 2002 - by Walter Trice

Good enough to double? To redouble? Good enough to take? Too good to double? If playing on makes you more than twice as likely to win a gammon as to lose the game, then playing on is the better choice.

Rating:  4.86

3-3 Opening Blitz Doubles

18 Jan 2002 - by Walter Trice

Doubling cube appraisals arise in every phase of the game, even after only the first two or three rolls. Here are some decisions that you might have to make, from either side of the board, invoked by an early 3-3 joker roll.

Rating:  4.73

End-Contact Positions

11 Jan 2002 - by Walter Trice

End-contact positions arise when contact between the two sides is on the verge of being broken and one side's chances in the race are enhanced by the prospect of hitting a blot in the next roll or two.

Rating:  4.63

One-Checker Closeouts

04 Jan 2002 - by Walter Trice

One-checker closeout positions are an important class for cube action and can arise from a variety of scenarios in the middle game, back games or deep anchor games.

Rating:  4.86

Two-Checker Closeouts

28 Dec 2001 - by Walter Trice

This week's positions make up one of the most basic classes of endings. They are simple and everyone who plays backgammon with the doubling cube should know them.

Rating:  4.81

Adjusted Pip Count Methods

21 Dec 2001 - by Walter Trice

There are two popular adjusted pip count methods that attempt to cover the whole gamut of racing positions, including the difficult ones that have both a rolls and a pips component.

Rating:  4.75

Pips And Rolls

14 Dec 2001 - by Walter Trice

Now that we know something about cube action in pip-versus-pip and roll-versus-roll races, the next step is to learn how to compare pips and rolls through effective pip counts.

Rating:  4.78

From Pip Count To Cube Action

07 Dec 2001 - by Walter Trice

Once contact has been broken, the pip count is entirely controlled by the dice, as long as you have a checker on the 6 point or some higher point. When the bearoff begins the situation may change...

Rating:  4.74

Racing Off The Ace

30 Nov 2001 - by Walter Trice

The simplest positions in backgammon are those in which both players have checkers only on their ace points.

Rating:  4.62

Two Roll Bear-Off Positions

23 Nov 2001 - by Walter Trice

The possibilities multiply and the numbers grow larger but don't fret as Walter walks you through the formulae for doubling factors in these two roll bear-off positions.

Rating:  4.81

Let's Go Visit Mr. More!

16 Nov 2001 - by Walter Trice

Okay all you greenhorn cubists out there, fall in as Walter drills us on what the Backgammon doubling cube is all about and how to use this enigmatic weapon.

Rating:  4.77

And You Didn't Hedge?

09 Nov 2001 - by Walter Trice

The skill to mentally calculate equity, or how many of the 36 dice rolls will bear off your last checkers, are indispensable in Backgammon. Follow Walter's instructions carefully to learn shortcuts that produce the answers.

Rating:  4.85

Moving On Up

02 Nov 2001 - by Walter Trice

'Basic Training' is over and Walter is ready to march on to more distinctive strategies such as those of the doubling cube and middlegames. Here he outlines what new challenges we'll face and offers six suggestions to eager beavers.

Rating:  4.73

Premature Burial

26 Oct 2001 - by Walter Trice

In backgammon, Premature Burial results when a player's concern for short-term safety leads him to make a play that "does nothing" by moving one or more checkers deep into his home board.

Rating:  4.76

Game Plan

19 Oct 2001 - by Walter Trice

In a dice-driven game, unforeseeable things can happen. But imagining the various paths the game may take, and attempting to steer the game into one of those paths, can lead to victory!

Rating:  4.78

To Hit Or Not To Hit?

12 Oct 2001 - by Walter Trice

In Backgammon positions there can be dozens, even hundreds of ways that a dice roll can be played. With a wealth of possibilities, how does one go about finding the best plays? One begins by rounding up the "usual suspects".

Rating:  4.73

Blots, Shots, and Odds

05 Oct 2001 - by Walter Trice

Walter takes us into the area of odds and probabilities showing us how to count the shots to know where to leaves those blots.

Rating:  4.75

The Opening Roll

28 Sep 2001 - by Walter Trice

Although we don't really know the best moves for all opening rolls, we do have some extremely educated guesses backed by neural network programs that have strengthened our confidence in some of the plays, and changed our minds about others.

Rating:  4.55

High Anchors And Holding Games

21 Sep 2001 - by Walter Trice

In a holding game it might be wise to play safe while you still can, but depending on the pip-count and your opponent's homeboard, it could be just the right time to take a chance and leave a shot.

Rating:  4.50

The Defensive Ace Point

14 Sep 2001 - by Walter Trice

Walter "scratches the surface" on the theme of how to play a well-timed ace-point game by describing the main ideas and goals through some sample positions.

Rating:  4.52


07 Sep 2001 - by Walter Trice

Getting those back men moving and anchoring them on strategic points is one of the key goals in opening play as it can dramatically affect situations later in a game.

Rating:  4.41


31 Aug 2001 - by Walter Trice

When a blitz works the result is also a closeout, but the tactics are fast, very aggressive, risky and opportunistic.

Rating:  4.38

Primes And The Closeout

24 Aug 2001 - by Walter Trice

The core of backgammon checker play strategy is the tension between two conflicting goals: winning a race while at the same time blocking an opponent's runners. This week we will look at one of the basic blocking strategies.

Rating:  4.37

Backgammon Is Roller Derby

08 Aug 2001 - by Walter Trice

In backgammon, disengaging your checkers and moving them around and off the board is, lest we forget, the object of the game. How to reconcile racing and conflict, that is the problem...

Rating:  4.68
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