Feature Columnists: Mary Hickey - Chouette and More

How The Shark Became Toothless, Part 2

30 May 2007 - by Mary Hickey

In Mary Hickey's final 'Chouette and More' column she examines what the good player is doing wrong, and how he is sabotaging himself without realizing it.


Rating:  4.44
"Chouette and More" Archive
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How The Shark Became Toothless, Part 1

30 Apr 2007 - by Mary Hickey

Last month, the "good player" admitted he may be doing something wrong. Once a player gets past cursing the dice and their forebears, and starts to explore what he or she might change and correct, a cure becomes possible.

Rating:  5.00

The Five Point Is What It Is

30 Mar 2007 - by Mary Hickey

Kit Woolsey's famous backgammon identity axiom, "The five point is the five point", has stood the test of time despite all efforts to prove that the five point is something else. This month's problems will all involve choosing between making the five point and at least one strong and plausible alternative.

Rating:  5.00

Backgammon Among the Idol Wannabes

28 Feb 2007 - by Mary Hickey

Mary Hickey's latest chouette article probes six different problems where your objective is to contain a single checker you have hit.

Rating:  5.00

Good Plays that are Wrong

30 Jan 2007 - by Mary Hickey

These problems all have several possible solutions, at least one of which is a serious error that may look right. But it's still wrong, because there is another overriding principle.

Rating:  4.83

Bringing it Home for the Holidays

30 Dec 2006 - by Mary Hickey

Sometimes we have a huge advantage in a game, but there remains a bit of contact that could cause us to stumble at the finish line instead of breezing home to victory. Today's problems represent some typical cases.

Rating:  4.75

Be Thankful for Good Rolls, and Don't Turn Them into Turkeys!

30 Nov 2006 - by Mary Hickey

Your usual game has been cancelled, so you head down to the local coffee house for a Thanksgiving chouette, where interesting backgammon problems are on the menu.

Rating:  4.00

Five Scary Cubes

30 Oct 2006 - by Mary Hickey

It's Hallowe'en time, and backgammon can get downright scary. The lurking dangers include cube errors, overindulgence in sugary trick-or-treats, and maybe even a ring-tailed rodent or two. Don't say you weren't warned!

Rating:  5.00

Greedy for Gain

30 Sep 2006 - by Mary Hickey

In finance it can be bad to be "greedy for gain". Even a greedy person who plays by the rules risks coming out on the losing end if they don't know when to stop. Who hasn't heard that Wall Street canard, "Bulls and bears can make money, but pigs can't"? In backgammon too, the bulls and bears both have their time, sometimes each within the same game.

Rating:  4.43

Play-Down: Its Causes and Cures

30 Aug 2006 - by Mary Hickey

Today's Principle: The most basic cause of Play-Down appears to be mental multi-tasking caused by counterproductive chatter. The antidote is respect for the dice and if possible, the opponent, combined with awareness and avoidance of the pitfalls of Play-Down thinking.

Rating:  5.00

Play-Down Panic!

30 Jul 2006 - by Mary Hickey

Mary's cast of chouette players encounter three problems where even after the correct move, the player's equity will be negative. This can lead to over-aggressive play in an effort to remedy this perceived injustice as speedily as possible.

Rating:  5.00

Winners Who Gloat, Losers Who Whine

30 Jun 2006 - by Mary Hickey

What really bothers Connie is that Mr. Pompose has been gloating! And if there's anything Connie can't stand, it's winners who gloat. He thinks they're even worse than losers who whine!

Rating:  4.38

Quirky Positions With Gammon Threats

30 May 2006 - by Mary Hickey

Mr. Pompose, the accountant who Connie had written off as a 1970s-pure throwback, has thrown Connie's game into a tailspin. No wonder he wants to play every day after work with Connie!

Rating:  4.60

Errors of Missed Opportunity

30 Apr 2006 - by Mary Hickey

None of the rest of you have been getting as much backgammon action as you'd like, because the former host of your chouette has been away on business for over a year now. But now he has returned, and has sent you all an e-mail telling you he can't wait to start playing backgammon again!

Rating:  4.80

Stranded Anchors

10 Apr 2004 - by Mary Hickey

A stranded back anchor isn't the end of the world! Don't panic and run from it too soon, and stand your ground if doubled if you have both race and shot chances, even if neither alone is sufficient to justify a take.

Rating:  4.82

Playing With Fire

10 Mar 2004 - by Mary Hickey

If you're playing an opponent clearly better than yourself, look for windows of special opportunity, but in general don't compound your difficulties by straying from sound principles of play.

Rating:  4.71

Frolic In The Fishpond

10 Feb 2004 - by Mary Hickey

If your money session error rate against weak opponents is a consistently high world class level, you aren't maximizing your equity! Observe your opponents carefully, and adapt your game to what you see.

Rating:  4.83

Swimming Without Sharks

10 Jan 2004 - by Mary Hickey

Snowie equities differ substantially from actual equities when the ability difference between opponents is large. Strive to maximize your actual equity, and don't sweat a few bot-dings along the way.

Rating:  4.67

Danish Props

10 Dec 2003 - by Mary Hickey

Danish props are great food for thought, but they don't make good leftovers. Never play a prop that someone offers you "cold" - that is, after he or she has had a chance to study it, but you haven't!

Rating:  4.85

Winning Against The Odds

10 Nov 2003 - by Mary Hickey

When you are the weakest player in a chouette, your equity can actually be the best of anyone's! Your opportunities rise in direct proportion to the size of your opponents' fears, misjudgements, and egos.

Rating:  4.40

The 5 is the 5 or...

10 Oct 2003 - by Mary Hickey

When one of your options is to make the five point, an alternative play needs to accomplish something quite serious to compete with it.

Rating:  5.00

A Long, Strange Trip

10 Sep 2003 - by Mary Hickey

Nobody can actually go back in time, knowing what they know now; but you can live that daydream by playing the backgammon of the future in the present!

Rating:  3.78

Doin' The Time Warp...

10 Aug 2003 - by Mary Hickey

It's back to the backgammon bar at the Haymarket Square Bistro for Mary's continuation of last month's "A Walk On The Wild Side".

Rating:  4.23

A Walk On The Wild Side

10 Jul 2003 - by Mary Hickey

The city becomes a maze of one-ways, dead ends, nameless alleys, and no-parking zones as you search for the corner they mentioned. You find 17th street, but Yolanda isn't a familiar name, and you somehow miss it twice as...

Rating:  4.62

A Day At The Coffee House

10 Jun 2003 - by Mary Hickey

You silently move your chair back a few inches and try to look inconspicuous. You don't know if anyone in this crowd has been known to throw a dice cup, and you also don't know how good their aim is.

Rating:  4.62

Tech Picks Take Precedence

10 May 2003 - by Mary Hickey

When the game is close to won, technical decisions take on greater importance than in the game's early and formative stages.

Rating:  4.92

Back To Mogadore

10 Apr 2003 - by Mary Hickey

Knowing when to speak up and when to keep silent takes more than a lifetime to learn. Do the best you can to discern the best course!

Rating:  5.00

A Venue For Stephen King

10 Mar 2003 - by Mary Hickey

Imagining yourself making a living playing backgammon can be fun, but like many fantasies, it may not survive a reality check.

Rating:  5.00

Yet Another 2-6 From The Bar

10 Feb 2003 - by Mary Hickey

Weird dice patterns are more normal than not. Don't let them throw your game off stride.

Rating:  4.62

Rational Risk-Taking

10 Jan 2003 - by Mary Hickey

If the odds favour playing boldly and risking an instant loss, will you have the courage to do it? When the odds favour waiting, will you be able to see the difference and not rush in where it's best not to go?

Rating:  5.00

Courage Vs. Weeniety

10 Dec 2002 - by Mary Hickey

What should you do when the cube gets high and it's almost impossible to play exactly as you normally would?

Rating:  5.00

Tailored Cubes & Plays

10 Nov 2002 - by Mary Hickey

Sometimes you must customize your cube decisions, and occasionally your checker plays, according to what you know about your individual opponents.

Rating:  5.00

Substance Versus Style

08 Oct 2002 - by Mary Hickey

Today we'll discuss matters of substance versus matters of style - whether you should expend some of your political capital to try to convince the Captain to make your play, or just let it go and save your argument for something more important.

Rating:  4.86

Dream Team Quiz

08 Sep 2002 - by Mary Hickey

In the following four quiz problems, you're playing in a private chouette at the home of Cornelius V. D.B. Magnuson, the wealthy castoff son of that notorious robber baron of the Ohio steel industry, Ramses Grendel Magnuson II.

Rating:  4.60

The Secret Fears Of Steamers

08 Aug 2002 - by Mary Hickey

Steamers enjoy the game more than anyone. For them the thrill of winning really does exceed the pain of losing, often by a substantial margin, though they do experience both the ecstasy and the agony far more intensely than other players.

Rating:  5.00

Principles Of Chouette #9

08 Jul 2002 - by Mary Hickey

If the late radical community organizer/activist Saul Alinsky had played backgammon, he would have got this cube action right. He said that power is what the enemy thinks you have, urging one go outside the experience of the enemy.

Rating:  5.00

Principles Of Chouette #8

08 Jun 2002 - by Mary Hickey

Today we'll follow the thought process of a player trying to maximize his score by judicious use of the power that the cube gives us to raise the stakes.

Rating:  5.00

Principles Of Chouette #7

08 May 2002 - by Mary Hickey

Now we'll begin to explore our options for doubling from the Box when the game's going our way. In this article, we'll deal with technical endgames situations where the answer's the same no matter who you're playing with.

Rating:  5.00

Principles Of Chouette #6

08 Apr 2002 - by Mary Hickey

For most of us, the Nightmare of the 15th Checker is a rerun of a documentary. Grab some popcorn and watch in horrified fascination as cruel fate reduces a sure backgammon win to a rapidly shrinking gammon chance.

Rating:  4.73

Principles Of Chouette #5

08 Mar 2002 - by Mary Hickey

This month we look at some problems where who you're playing with matters a lot, and in some cases will override the numbers as the key component of the decision.

Rating:  5.00

Principles Of Chouette #4

08 Feb 2002 - by Mary Hickey

Why would a Backgammon player not always try to maximize equity, the same as he would if playing "heads-up"? One of the many reasons frequently cited is "controlling the swings".

Rating:  4.78

Principles Of Chouette #3

08 Jan 2002 - by Mary Hickey

Of pigeons, fish and other tasty menu items.

Rating:  4.61

Principles of Chouette #2

08 Dec 2001 - by Mary Hickey

When nothing but the best will do.

Rating:  4.70

Chouette Principles

01 Nov 2001 - by Mary Hickey

Chouette is a popular Backgammon variant for three or more to play.

Rating:  4.06
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