Feature Columnists: Jake Jacobs - On The Road With Jake

Philet Of Fish

29 Jan 2020 - by Jake Jacobs

One of the forums for backgammon discussions that has evolved in recent years is Facebook. Using tools like XG it is easy to create and post positions, to ask the world for its opinion, and then depending upon whom you have befriended, and who might be paying attention, you will get feedback.


Rating:  5.00
"On The Road With Jake" Archive
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Charlie McCarthy or Mortimer Snerd

21 Jan 2020 - by Jake Jacobs

Once upon a time there was a backgammon player named John Brussel. John played, directed, and conducted Calcutta auctions with dubious humour. He was a nice guy, and since his passing is missed.

Rating:  5.00

Tora Tora Burning Bright

22 Apr 2019 - by Jake Jacobs

Back in the last century when I first played in the Japan Open I called readers' attention to the one Japanese player then whom I believed was playing at a world class level.

Rating:  4.75

Backgammon - Pure Strategy Reviewed

15 Apr 2019 - by 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.

Rating:  4.67

Birthday Bash and Vegas Cash

08 Apr 2019 - by Jake Jacobs

Last article I talked about picking the brains of some notable experts at the Blackjack Ball after party. The Ball and after party were enhancements to my visit, and spending time with my brother and his family were a prime motivator, but another compelling reason was that I had been "ordered" to attend.

Rating:  5.00

And Where She Stops

29 Jun 2018 - by Jake Jacobs

Last month I administered Paul Magriel's Genius Quiz. While your brains are still reeling, I'll revisit it. But first, to keep you sharp, here is a bonus quiz!

Rating:  4.20

Magriel Genius Quiz

14 Apr 2018 - by Jake Jacobs

The late Paul Magriel was one in a million. I don't mean that as a hyperbolic compliment, I mean it literally. He was a genius, and the two statements are related. Genius is an overused term. Mensa members are called geniuses, but all it takes for membership is an IQ score that falls two or more standard deviations from the mean

Rating:  4.50

Xpiration Notice

14 Mar 2018 - by Jake Jacobs

Many people knew Paul, and many knew him far better than me. Many writers have written about Paul, and many are better writers than me. Stories about him during his colorful life appeared in prestigious journals including Sports Illustrated and Esquire.

Rating:  5.00

Strategy Schmategy

07 Feb 2018 - by Jake Jacobs

In the spring of 1982 I was living in Las Vegas. Henry Watson's tournament, which included the World Amateur Championship, perhaps better known as the Plimpton Cup, was held in June most years. My friend Craig Chellstorp was ineligible, but saw it as an opportunity.

Rating:  5.00

The Backgammon Encyclopedia Vol 2 Reviewed

08 Jan 2018 - by Jake Jacobs

Thirty-five years ago Mike Maxakuli, publisher of the Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine, came to me with an idea. I should write the Backgammon Encyclopedia, which he would publish.

Rating:  5.00

Must Have Been Something They 8

27 Oct 2017 - by Jake Jacobs

I described last spring how the Japan Open moved to a new venue, and was held at a different time of year. The second biggest backgammon tournament on the calendar, the Ouisen, was traditionally held in May.

Rating:  5.00

Jerrymandering 6

02 Oct 2017 - by Jake Jacobs

We left off with me leading 17-15 to 23 in my semifinal match with Jerry Grandell. At the next board Neil Kazaross was winning his semifinal match with Dr. John Simon of Hong Kong. One of us could look forward to an interesting finals match.

Rating:  5.00

Jerrymandering 5

31 Aug 2017 - by Jake Jacobs

The horror! The horror! Those who have been following this series know that after leading 14-3 to 23, in just three games I had fallen behind 14-15. We resume with Game 13.

Rating:  4.67

Jerrymandering 4

27 Jul 2017 - by Jake Jacobs

If you have been following this match from the beginning, or if you saw only last month's installment, you know this is a match Jerry Grandell and I played in the semis of the US Open in 1998, and that when we left off I led 14-7 to 23.

Rating:  5.00

Jerrymandering 3

27 Jun 2017 - by Jake Jacobs

We took a break last month to talk about the Japan Open. Now, back to the match. For those who missed the last installment, or can't recall where things stood, I lead 6-1 to 23.

Rating:  5.00

Osaki or Oh Sake

23 May 2017 - by Jake Jacobs

If you tuned in expecting the third installment of my match with Jerry Grandell: thanks for your devotion to this column. But we interrupt that match with breaking news (relatively speaking).

Rating:  5.00

Jerrymandering 2

19 Apr 2017 - by Jake Jacobs

Readers who missed last month may benefit from a quick recap. In 1998 I went to Dallas to play in the world's greatest tournament, the World Cup. After being bumped I had to settle for trying for a repeat win one of the runner up world's best events, the US Backgammon Open.

Rating:  4.83


31 Mar 2017 - by Jake Jacobs

It's hard to believe that the last World Cup of backgammon was a generation ago. Many of the players back then are no longer playing. Howard Ring, the winner in 1998, has been dead more than ten years. His opponent, Johannes Lieberman, vanished from the scene before that.

Rating:  4.89

Hard Ten

02 Mar 2017 - by Jake Jacobs

This month I thought I'd try something different. I listened to Phil Simborg's interview with Paul Weaver, and was inspired. Paul's preferred pedagogical method is to teach the first and second moves of the game. Why not go that one better, and if we are going one, why not go eight?

Rating:  4.67

Almost XXXactly

27 Jan 2017 - by Jake Jacobs

We adjourned the match last month tied 6-6 to 11. For those coming late to the party, this was a match I played against Paul "X-22" Magriel Labor Day, 1996, for the consolation championship in Indianapolis.

Rating:  5.00

Almost XXactly

13 Dec 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

Time to climb back into the DeLorean, and return to those thrilling days of yesteryear: the Labor Day backgammon tournament of 1996. We left the Consolation finals match last month with me leading Paul Magriel 4-2 to 11. It makes sense to start there, and so we will.

Rating:  5.00

Almost Xactly As I Remember It

15 Nov 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

The year 1996 was a good one for me. I cashed in almost everything I entered, and I entered a lot of tournaments. I won the Thai Backgammon Open and the US Backgammon Open. (I am still working on the Japan Open.)

Rating:  4.83

Othello Quiz 2017

17 Oct 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

With Japanese players occupying the three top spots on the backgammon Giants list, and a number of other very successful Japanese players making their mark in world competition, foreign players may be pardoned for thinking they have seen the cream of the Japanese crop.

Rating:  4.83

Profitable Proffers and Pineapple Bluffers

19 Sep 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

Like Joe Cocker I get by with a little help from my friends. The friends helping this month are Phil Simborg and Sam Pottle. Thanks guys! Phil likes to tinker, and is constantly experimenting with variations, or new games.

Rating:  5.00

Battle of Champions

22 Aug 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

Backgammon's first World Championship was held in 1964. In the late sixties and early seventies legendary player Tim Holland won three titles while also winning the title International Champion three times.

Rating:  4.40

Third Times The Charm Backgammon Quiz

20 Jul 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

Try as the bots might to turn backgammon players into chess players with better table manners the players' roots are in gambling. Some of the most interesting bets have been made by players.

Rating:  5.00

Game of Stones: A Song of Dice and Ire

14 Jun 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

Jon looked at the position, looked at the cubes lined up in front of him, looked at his opponent's icy blue eyes. The Box had won the last three games, coming back from the dead each time; Jon was young, but had heard of runs that lasted years. Maybe winter was coming?

Rating:  4.50


10 May 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

There was a new event at the recent backgammon tournament in Las Vegas: Paskogammon. The brainchild of Phil Simborg as its name suggests, it was inspired by legendary player Jim Pasko.

Rating:  5.00

Full Philment Backgammon Quiz

15 Apr 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

Sometime in the previous millennium I shared a room with Phil Simborg. I was a night owl, yet when I turned in at two or three Phil would be logged onto some web site playing backgammon and typing a stream of messages. I'd wake at the crack of noon and he'd be gone, up since dawn.

Rating:  5.00

Blast From the Past

10 Mar 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

Once upon a time when the world was young and backgammon lore was old there lived two young lads in a faraway land called Germany.

Rating:  5.00

Backgammon Giant 32 in 2015

19 Feb 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

It is 2016 of course, but a few years back the deadline for voting was extended into the new year, while the numbering remained the same.

Rating:  3.44

Make Solving This Backgammon Quiz Your New Years Resolution

15 Jan 2016 - by Jake Jacobs

We haven't had a quiz in quite a while, so let's get the New Year off to the right start. All these problems came up in matches in Japan this past October.

Rating:  5.00

Rising Sun - Setting Checkers

18 Dec 2015 - by Jake Jacobs

The final of the Japan Backgammon Open once again pitted two gaijin against each other. Representing England was Jericho Eric McAlpine. His opponent was Razi Bobrov of Israel.

Rating:  4.89

Count of Monte Cristo

16 Oct 2015 - by Jake Jacobs

Who doesn't love pip counts? I can still recall (dimly) the satisfaction of reading Magriel's book, learning about pip counting, and knowing that I had a secret weapon in my arsenal, one most of my opponents knew nothing about.

Rating:  5.00

Numbers Game

11 Sep 2015 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs recounts the story of a chouette between a group of world-famous mathematicians.

Rating:  4.75

Backgammon - From Basics to Badass Reviewed

07 Aug 2015 - by 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.

Rating:  4.27

MP Backgammon Prop Part 3

10 Jul 2015 - by Jake Jacobs

For those who missed Part 1 in May, or Part 2 last month, after the last tournament in Las Vegas Phil Simborg and Mochy Mochizuki agreed to play a 30-game proposition where Phil would start each game with the doubling cube on his side, gammons and backgammons activated.

Rating:  5.00

MP Backgammon Prop Part 2

10 Jun 2015 - by Jake Jacobs

For those who missed Part 1 last month, after the last tournament in Las Vegas Phil Simborg and Mochy Mochizuki agreed to play a 30-game proposition where Phil would start each game with the doubling cube on his side, gammons and backgammons activated.

Rating:  5.00

MP Backgammon Prop Part 1

10 May 2015 - by Jake Jacobs

Once upon a time, when the world was young and innocent, and the gods had not wrathfully loosed bots upon the world, backgammon players would sometimes play props (short for "propositions").

Rating:  4.80

Double Back

13 Apr 2015 - by Jake Jacobs

Once upon a time backgames fascinated backgammon players. The books of the seventies told us that backgames were a powerful tool, but so complex that only experts understood them. Naturally, everyone wanted to master them, if only to be thought expert!

Rating:  4.67

Random Blunder Backgammon Quiz

11 Mar 2015 - by Jake Jacobs

There is a common theme element to this quiz. I will save mentioning it until later. It is a surprise, so don't peek!

Rating:  4.60

A First Class First Class

11 Feb 2015 - by Jake Jacobs

Backgammon has been around for five thousand years. If it were like other sports its Hall Of Fame would feature busts of players older than the pyramids. Instead, we are just getting around to establishing a Hall now.

Rating:  4.89

Peachy Michy Backgammon Quiz

10 Jan 2015 - by Jake Jacobs

My first match during last fall's Japan Open was against Michy Kageyama in the Super Jackpot. That match is the source of the following problems. Play these well and you will have the satisfaction of playing them well.

Rating:  4.33

Joust In Japan

19 Dec 2014 - by Jake Jacobs

I read an online comment recently by a player looking back to the days of yore when he first began playing competitive backgammon, all the way back to 2004. He said that while the top players had improved, the biggest change was in the level of play below the top.

Rating:  4.88

American Fish Visit Tuna Paradise

10 Nov 2014 - by Jake Jacobs

I do my best to attend the Japan Open, held each year during the second weekend of October. In the past fifteen years I have only missed two or three. One of those years my best backgammon buddy, Carter Mattig, slipped into town.

Rating:  4.80

A Classique Revisited

10 Sep 2014 - by Jake Jacobs

Thirty years ago while living in Las Vegas I had a series of roommates. My brother owned a three-bedroom condo. It was a typical bachelor pad, if typical bachelors keep stacks of computer printouts listing backgammon cube equities in the kitchen cabinets.

Rating:  4.63

Kelly's Heroes II - Baby Got Bank

12 Aug 2014 - by Jake Jacobs

Last month I introduced the idea of using the Kelly Criterion to decide how much you should put at risk. The lead in was a discussion of books by Michelin Chabot, who used, or abused, Kelly. As a refresher, let me repeat the details of his Incredible Chabot Paradoxical Proposition.

Rating:  4.00

Kelly's Heroes

10 Jul 2014 - by Jake Jacobs

Have you heard of "The Incredible Chabot Paradoxical Proposition?" Probably not. A recent post at BG Online reminded me of some obscure backgammon books I read many years ago. The author, Michelin Chabot was a French-Canadian player with a mathematical bent.

Rating:  4.50

A Loaded Forty-Five

10 Jun 2014 - by Jake Jacobs

Back in 1980 I had been playing backgammon for one year, and was at a point in my learning where I could begin to evaluate the concepts I had picked up from reading in terms of how strong players were actually playing the game.

Rating:  5.00

Tokyo Story

10 May 2014 - by Jake Jacobs

There is a quiz given at the Japan Open, actually a full-fledged test, the Backgammon Proficiency Test. Test takers have to answer fifty multiple choice questions based upon position diagrams in sixty minutes. Some are simple, some quite difficult.

Rating:  4.75

No Steaming or Screaming When You Are Streaming

10 Apr 2014 - by Jake Jacobs

I drew Nishikawa in the first round of the Super Jackpot of the Japan Backgammon Open 2013. The match was streamed on the web. What follows are some of the interesting decisions from our match.

Rating:  4.83

Nothing Sweeter Than a Repeater

05 Mar 2014 - by Jake Jacobs

Even in the days when I averaged forty hours of live backgammon play every week, it seemed to me that warming up with a match or two before the start of a big tournament was a good idea.

Rating:  5.00

Past Thais

17 Feb 2014 - by Jake Jacobs

One problem the Thai backgammon tournament has had the past few years is a lack of continuity. During its first fifteen years, save one transition year when Karsten Neilsen directed the largest turnout in the event's history, there were only two directors, Goran Hasselquist and Guy Michalet.

Rating:  4.80

Well Matched

22 Oct 2013 - by Jake Jacobs

Minakami Tsuyoshi, playing at the Chicago Backgammon Open under the nom de guerre Minak, arrived in Chicago with a cold, but luckily brought along a healthy supply of prophylactic face wear.

Rating:  4.63

Got A Match?

10 Sep 2013 - by Jake Jacobs

A commitment by Rory Pascar to make available online the matches from the Giants Invitational and Chicago Open, part of a welcome trend, means that I have quite a few complete matches from those events. Today we will look at a match played between me and Mochy.

Rating:  4.80

Not Open and Shut

14 Aug 2013 - by Jake Jacobs

The Giants converged on Chicago last Memorial Day weekend, for the Chicago Backgammon Open and the Giants Invitational. After a long weekend, with a format designed to maximize the number of matches played, a few folks emerged as winners, and the others as wieners.

Rating:  4.40

Look Homeward Angel

24 Jul 2013 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs travels to his childhood home in Des Plaines, Illinois, and reports on the 2013 Chicago Backgammon Open along the way.

Rating:  4.63

Off With Their Heads

14 Jun 2013 - by Jake Jacobs

Perhaps this quiz will prove too easy? Sometimes it is the plays we think we know that trip us up. Let's hope you bump off your opponent, and grind out a win.

Rating:  4.33

Still In The Hunt

10 May 2013 - by Jake Jacobs

I have another backgammon match with Wil that was recorded back in the nineties. The transcriber missed the beginning, so the match began with Wil leading 5-0.

Rating:  5.00

Good Wil Hunting

10 Apr 2013 - by Jake Jacobs

Not all of the backgammon matches from the good old days looked like a slugfest between punch-drunk palookas. During the first half of the 1990s Wilcox Snellings was perhaps the world's best player.

Rating:  4.83

23 Skidoo Backgammon Quiz

12 Mar 2013 - by Jake Jacobs

Spring break is coming, and whether you are planning to head to Florida and feed yourselves to the swarm of sharks or not, you need a backgammon quiz to see you on your way.

Rating:  5.00

Grand Old Time

10 Feb 2013 - by Jake Jacobs

In late 1997 the third Giants of Backgammon list was published. Leaping from 56th place on the 1995 list to 9th place, at that time perhaps the most impressive jump in the list's young history, was Jerry Grandell.

Rating:  4.78

In Search Of Lost Thaim

10 Jan 2013 - by Jake Jacobs

I went to Thailand for a backgammon tournament, and all I got was ... Four books, five shirts, four Nasacort refills, four boxes of Micardis, thirty movies, and three pairs of jeans.

Rating:  3.75

From Hachiko To Eternity

10 Dec 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

A certain Japanese professor owned a Japanese Akita puppy named Hachiko, and trained it to meet him every afternoon at the station. One day the professor dropped dead and never did catch the train home. Nevertheless, for the next ten years Hachiko trotted to station every afternoon to greet his master.

Rating:  4.67

Big Do, Ya! In Shibuya

10 Nov 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

Few outside Japan are aware of it, but the Japan Open is a very old event. If I read the banners correctly this was the "42nd Japan Backgammon Festival."

Rating:  5.00

The Way We Were

10 Oct 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

Rick Janowski has been compiling error ratings for backgammon players from the pre-bot era. Digging through the archives, exploring dark chambers full of cobwebs and grinning skeletons on my hard drive, I unearthed three dozen of my own matches that range from ten to twenty years old.

Rating:  4.83

Settle This

11 Sep 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

For many years, if asked, or even if not asked, I could state unequivocally that my best day as a backgammon player was in January, 1984.

Rating:  4.60

LA Stands For Late Analysis

10 Aug 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

Actually the analysis isn't all that late. The LA tournament was last month (as I write this), but since then there have been major backgammon tournaments including Michigan, the World Championships, and Cannes.

Rating:  5.00

Making His Mark

10 Jul 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

Phil Simborg, who conducted it, calls it a Peoria Auction. I call it a Chinese Menu Auction. I'm pretty sure the Peorians call it a Peoria Auction, while Chinese restaurant owners, if you asked what they call it, would say: "Wo buzhidao!"

Rating:  4.86

A New Beginning

10 Jun 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

When I started playing backgammon there were many books for beginners - in retrospect they were all books for beginners. But in the past thirty years hardly any books have been aimed at beginners.

Rating:  4.71

Only 16

10 May 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

It seems my assumption, that the backgammon problems were similar enough that from the answers, and a bit of thought, all would be revealed, was wrong.

Rating:  4.83

Sweet 16 In The Prime Of Life Quiz

10 Apr 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

Spring is here, and prom season is in full swing. "All the cats" may want to dance with Sweet Little Sixteen, but I am sure that for this quiz you are glad she came in off the bar instead of dancing.

Rating:  4.00

Backgammon News Update

10 Mar 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs brings us the latest backgammon news compiled from his extensive list of contacts throughout the world. Some of it may even be true.

Rating:  3.73

A Thaitanic Quiz

10 Feb 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

The following quiz features plays that came up during the Thai Open. And since this year happens to be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic I've dubbed it the Thaitanic Quiz. In memory of the Titanic there are 100 points at stake.

Rating:  5.00

The Tally At Talay

10 Jan 2012 - by Jake Jacobs

We are back on track! Last year the Thai Open came close to becoming the Thai Closed. This year a new director, Joe Somchai took the helm. The new View Talay Villa complex was a definite upgrade.

Rating:  4.83

As Easy As Counting To Ten

10 Dec 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

It is that time of year when you are thinking about other things. Either you are thinking about your Christmas shopping, or thinking about how to convince your wife that you are going Christmas shopping, when you are really planning to drop by the chouette.

Rating:  5.00

From The Trick Or Treat Bag

10 Nov 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

One more Japan Open has come and gone, and once more you all failed to go! Come on! This was a great time to make the trip. Because of the tragic events of last spring prices, while never cheap, are certainly down.

Rating:  5.00

Merely An Expression Of Expediency

13 Oct 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

I've been thinking about ethics lately, in backgammon, and in the wider world. The stories that follow are all "real," but keep in mind that rumors and allegations are only rumors and allegation.

Rating:  5.00

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

22 Sep 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

Here are some reasons that money play is superior to match play, and why the game needs more of it. Today top tournament players, Giants such as Mochy, MCG, and Falafel, are also dominant money players if they can find a high stakes money game to dominate.

Rating:  4.08

I'm Just A Donkey Blues

10 Aug 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

Last month at Gammon Village I posted the "Singing The Blues Quiz," a set of problems from the Chicago Open. Last week Phil Simborg wrote to me, saying that one of his students had rolled out a couple of my positions, and his answers did not match mine.

Rating:  5.00

Singing The Blues Quiz

10 Jul 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

Chicago, home of the blues! When you are feeling sad and lowdown, sing the blues and before you know it... If you have a voice like mine, they will be throwing rotten tomatoes at you.

Rating:  5.00

Play Sixteen Giants, And Whaddya Get?

10 Jun 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

Living in Singapore I don't play in many US tournaments these days. When Rory Pascar called me last winter, to invite me to the Chicago Open, I don't think he really expected a "yes." Nor did I expect to give him one. Three factors made me change my mind.

Rating:  5.00

Denmark Versus The World

10 May 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

For the past two years the Nordic Open has held an event called "Denmark versus the World." Two teams, one with seven Danes, the other, with seven players from anywhere else, compete.

Rating:  4.92

Heavyweight Boxing

10 Apr 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

Once upon a time, when the world was young, so young that the Ents hadn't yet lost the Ent wives, I had never heard of a box take. Hard to believe, but true.

Rating:  4.67

Inside Out

10 Mar 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

Two of the most fundamental concepts in backgammon are hitting a blot, and building a prime. Which is better? If that question had an answer, backgammon would be a boring game, and we'd all be playing something else.

Rating:  5.00

Memories (May Be Beautiful. And Yet...)

08 Feb 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

According to legend when elephants compliment each other they say "you have a memory like Jake," but the stories of my memory are exaggerated. I have always had a good natural memory, but it peaked in my early teens.

Rating:  4.50


10 Jan 2011 - by Jake Jacobs

I know you are all groggy from Christmas grog, and New Year's Eve has left you uneven, so while you are in a weakened state I'll hit you with a pop quiz. Perhaps this will inspire a New Year's resolution: never take quizzes while you've been drinking.

Rating:  4.80

Sporting Propositions

10 Dec 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

The Danes play Prop Chouettes with several variations on this theme: that when players disagree the disputed move or double is played ten times. They learn a lot from playing this way, one of the reasons Denmark now dominates world backgammon.

Rating:  4.83

Suzuki Scoots To Victory

09 Nov 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

I remember quite clearly where and when I first saw a man juggle a chainsaw. The place was Venice Beach, the year 1983. He asked those of us gathered around him if there were any cops in sight. Chainsaws are noisy, and they had threatened to ticket him for noise pollution.

Rating:  4.17

Bento Box Quiz

10 Oct 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

The quiz below is packed with positions from past Japanese tournaments. With the Japan Open looming (it isn't too late to book a flight!) it seems like the right time to snack on this assortment until you arrive in Tokyo for the main course. UPDATED

Rating:  4.50

Box, Clocks, and Well-Thrown Rocks

10 Sep 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

Over the past year I've seen, in public and private forums, debates about the merits of baffle boxes, the use of clocks in tournaments, etc. These topics have been kicked around for decades.

Rating:  4.47

The Legendary Beer Off

10 Aug 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

I am not blind, like Homer, but give me a few beers and I'll try my best. Have a few yourself. You see it was beer that inspired this tale. I was thinking about beer, I'll explain why in a minute, and it reminded me of bearoffs.

Rating:  4.89

Open Minded

10 Jul 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

Twain chronicled life on the frontier. Hammett invented a new genre. The Beats captured the ferment underlying Ike's supposedly placid America. And there I was, a writer in San Francisco, and what did I see?

Rating:  4.22

I Left My Entry Fee...

10 Jun 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

...In San Francisco. Otherwise, the US Open was a fine tournament. The name US Open was waiting to be scooped up, waiting since 1998, so it was past time when Chiva Tafazzoli did the honors last year and held the first US Open of the 21st Century on the East Coast.

Rating:  4.67

Peculiar Pairs

10 May 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

Recently Phil Simborg came up with an interesting quiz. It featured unusual positions; the sort that would come up rarely, if at all, in a real game. I thought it was fun, in an offbeat way, so I have devised a similar quiz.

Rating:  4.25

Jake and the Beanstalk

10 Apr 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

The votes are in. If Knights are dubbed and Kings are crowned then the Giants of Backgammon are supersized. Let's climb up to the realm of magic harps and geese that lay golden eggs and take a look at the current inhabitants.

Rating:  4.17

Shovelling the Snowie

10 Mar 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake digs up ten checker play problems of the kind that confronted the ancients, that legendary race of backgammon players who strode the earth like colossi in the olden days. That is, ten years ago.

Rating:  4.73

Siamese Menageries

10 Feb 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

World Traveller Jake Jacobs brings us this report on the 2010 Thai Backgammon Open, by way of Yosemite.

Rating:  4.06

A Backgammon HOF Without A Beer

10 Jan 2010 - by Jake Jacobs

The HOF I refer to is the Backgammon Hall Of Fame. Voters might make mockery of my title by nominating 1974 World Champion Claude Beer, but I'll chance it.

Rating:  4.19

You Better, You Better, You Best

10 Dec 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

We know which backgammon player is the best shogi player; there is no room for debate. But what about other games and sports? I have opinions on a number of them.

Rating:  4.61

Tokyo Backgammon Brain Teaser

09 Nov 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

Last month you lisped your way through the Tokyo Tongue Twister. This month we'll find out if your brains are as nimble as your tongues.

Rating:  4.86

Tokyo Tongue Twister

10 Oct 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

World Traveler Jake Jacobs reports from the 2009 Japan Backgammon Open and Japan Championship, held from September 20 to September 22 in Tokyo, Japan.

Rating:  4.43

A Sharp Stick

10 Sep 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

I was eager to meet Stick. I had heard he was the best young backgammon player in America. I had heard he was the best player in America, period. Of course I've heard many things over the years.

Rating:  4.14

LA Proved Too Much For The Man

10 Aug 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs reports on his trip to the American Backgammon Tour (ABT) 2009 Los Angeles Open, held from June 12-14, 2009 in Los Angeles.

Rating:  4.30

A Burger in Bunkyo-ku

10 Jul 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

In Japan, a hamburger can cost more than 1000 yen. Speaking of burgers with lots of stuff between the bun, this article contains some tough backgammon decisions crammed into a very few rolls.

Rating:  3.00

King Of Backgammon

10 Jun 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs reports on the 2009 Japan Open, held during the "Golden Week" of four national Japanese holidays. Backgammon players take advantage of Golden Week by running a tournament to crown the King of Backgammon.

Rating:  4.56

All We Need

10 May 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs spins a backgammon tale containing the three important literary elements: a brilliant play, a stupid play, and incredible luck.

Rating:  4.15

Backgammon Easter Eggs

10 Apr 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

Easter is just around the corner, and digging around in my mailbox I have found some Backgammon Easter eggs for all of you. These all came from the Easter Bunny himself. Almost.

Rating:  5.00

A Board Walk

10 Mar 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

World traveller Jake Jacobs reminisces about backgammon boards he's encountered over the years. Some obscure, some famous, some infamous.

Rating:  4.45

Thai Die'd

10 Feb 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs reports from the 14th Thai Backgammon Open, held at Somboom's Restaurant in Pattaya, Thailand from January 2 to January 4, 2009.

Rating:  4.31

Chou Year's Eve

10 Jan 2009 - by Jake Jacobs

World traveler and backgammon expert Jake Jacobs rings in the new year by bringing us a quiz from an interesting chouette. How many questions can you answer correctly?

Rating:  4.75

Dropping Anchor In Pattaya

10 Dec 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

I was in Pattaya two weeks ago, and dropped in on some old friends. In the midst of the various celebrations I found myself free one afternoon to ride to Jomtien Beach for a visit to Somboon's Restaurant, where the 14th Thai Backgammon Open will be held.

Rating:  3.93

Backgammon Me In Nakano

10 Nov 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs finds one of the world's best sushi restaurants, and delivers this report on the 2008 Japan Backgammon Open, held from October 11-13, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan.

Rating:  4.44

The Backgammon's In Japan, and Where Are You?

10 Oct 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs posts a list of problems recorded by Masanori Itikawa, an online backgammon player known as Othello. If Othello was tricked by these positions perhaps there lurks within the essence of backgammon itself an Iago waiting to snare us.

Rating:  4.67

Ships On The Horizon

10 Sep 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs recounts a tale of his visit to Anchorage, Alaska by way of San Francisco, California. He meets friends and family along the way, and ponders the possible end of a backgammon era.

Rating:  4.55

Backgammon Races: Checkers Don't Get Tired, Do They?

10 Aug 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

As the Olympics gets under way we are off to the races. As the race gets longer the number of total pips you can overcome increases, but the percentage of total pips goes down. Jake Jacobs looks at which backgammon racing formula gets the gold.

Rating:  4.00

Race To Finish This Backgammon Quiz

10 Jul 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

Backgammon, as some sage noted, is a race. Writing backgammon articles can be a race, too. Jake Jacobs presents this quiz with a racing flavour. How quickly and accurately can you complete it?

Rating:  3.86

Snow White Backgammon Checkers

10 Jun 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

Once upon a time there was a wicked queen who played a mean game of backgammon. One of the other players in her chouette was a very beautiful girl they called "Snow White Checkers," because those were the only ones she'd play with.

Rating:  4.17

Backgammon Inside Moves

10 May 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

Backgammon is a game where a single pip matters. The three positions today have a couple of things in common. First, they were all recent forwards from Phil Simborg. Second, they all offer Black a chance to use small numbers to hit inside his board.

Rating:  4.45

Backgammon Settlers Hang In There-Here Comes The Cavalry

10 Apr 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

I have two stories about settlements - a seldom discussed area of backgammon. (Really I have many more, but two is all I am going to tell you right now, so plan your evening accordingly.)

Rating:  4.75

I'm Getting Married In The Morning

10 Mar 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

It was backgammon indirectly that brought me to Lomsak, Thailand; it was backgammon that introduced me to a number of my guests; and thus backgammon that put us all on a bus venturing ever deeper into the Thai countryside.

Rating:  2.82

The Last Backgammon Roundup?

10 Feb 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

World traveler and expert backgammon player Jake Jacobs tells a tale of romance, adventure, friends, a wedding, and backgammon in Thailand.

Rating:  4.27

Minding P's Qs

10 Jan 2008 - by Jake Jacobs

I have selected ten checker problems from Chicago backgammon player and raconteur Phil Simborg. He records every tough position he encounters while playing live or online and emails them all to his friends. These are ten very tough problems indeed!

Rating:  4.57

The Backgame Before Christmas

10 Dec 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

The holiday season has come around again, and my friends are on my mind. Here is a backgammon-themed holiday tale based upon the "other" most famous Christmas story.

Rating:  4.09

Backgammon Grab Bag

10 Nov 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

This month's column is comprised by odds and ends that individually don't merit a full article, but are still worth a mention. The first of them is a television documentary about one of our notable backgammon players.

Rating:  4.71

World Backgammon Championship Quiz

10 Oct 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

Perhaps the problems aren't really tougher, but when backgammon's crown is up for grabs it sure seems like they are. Here are some of the more interesting decisions that arose.

Rating:  4.86

Backgammon World Championship: The Die Is Cast

10 Sep 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

Backgammon is a dice game, but in the World Championship finals a single die nearly made all the difference. Last month was all about the glitter; this month we'll look at the nitty and the gritty.

Rating:  4.90

Backgammon High Times and High Life

10 Aug 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

The jet setters may have flown away, and there aren't many tournaments that still require coats and ties, but the World Backgammon Championship in Monaco is special: a link to backgammon's golden past.

Rating:  4.69

How Little We Know

10 Jul 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake ruminates upon the two essential concepts he learned in his early career in Las Vegas, right after the backgammon boom and the backgammon bust of the 1970s.

Rating:  4.13

Summer Vacation Hasn't Started Yet!

10 Jun 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

It may be sunny outside; the birds are singing, the crickets are chirping, and the waves are gently lapping the shore - too bad, there's still time for a backgammon quiz before school lets out!

Rating:  4.67

Odds Bodkins!

10 May 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake comments on some mathematical oddities, curiosities in backgammon, and some mind-bogglingly large numbers.

Rating:  3.63

A Prince of a Fellow

10 Apr 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs tells a tale of backgammon, bridge and nobility in his latest article from Singapore.

Rating:  2.63

Play These Like There Is A Million Bucks At Stake

10 Mar 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

Last month Jake focused on the ambience of the Million. This month, as promised, he looks at some positions.

Rating:  4.50

One In A Million

10 Feb 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs reports on his experiences at the first ever Backgammon Million tournament held in the Bahamas. The winning player took home more than $500,000.

Rating:  4.53

That Thaim Again

10 Jan 2007 - by Jake Jacobs

He may have bombed out in the tournament, but at least he wasn't bombed out! Jake Jacobs reports from the Twelfth Thai Open.

Rating:  4.50

Rainy Day

10 Dec 2006 - by Jake Jacobs

Jake Jacobs uses the torrential rain in Singapore as a good reason to explore these rainy day backgammon problems.

Rating:  3.33

A Taste For Backgammon

10 Nov 2006 - by Jake Jacobs

If you would give up food, sleep, and sanity just to get in a few more games in the chouette, Japan probably isn't for you. But if you like good food and good company, then in early October Tokyo is where you ought to be.

Rating:  5.00

There Goes The Neighborhood!

10 Oct 2006 - by Jake Jacobs

The neighborhood referred to in the title, is the neighborhood of Illinois. I would guess that if someone said: "Quick, name a neighbor of Illinois?" you would quickly respond "Indiana!"

Rating:  4.40

Math Flakes and Box Takes

10 Sep 2006 - by Jake Jacobs

If you have ever chouetted you must have seen Box Takes, if not made a few yourselves. The player aspiring to get or keep the Box takes a cube that he normally should pass, paying a premium for the privilege.

Rating:  4.25

The Expert Mind

10 Aug 2006 - by Jake Jacobs

The ability to make an analysis both swiftly and accurately is called apperception. Developing this is part of the process of becoming an expert.

Rating:  5.00

Mochy's Monday Monaco Madness

10 Jul 2006 - by Jake Jacobs

The Fjord's menu includes rib eye steak, curried shrimp, spaghetti, and various tapas dishes. Let's see: it has a Swedish name, and foods associated with England, India, Italy, and Spain. Nope, nothing there to distinguish it from thousands of other Japanese restaurants. Ah, but wait, it has one distinguishing feature: it has backgammon!

Rating:  4.75

Gee Whiz Quiz

10 Jun 2006 - by Jake Jacobs

It is, as you may have noticed, June. Think of me as your grumpy teacher, doing just what teachers do on lovely June days: hitting you with a pop backgammon quiz.

Rating:  4.50

Siamese Dream

10 May 2006 - by Jake Jacobs

"Climb up here Ben, and I'll tell you a story!" That's the great thing about having a baby around: they haven't heard all your stories – yet. Jake Jacobs spins a new story about backgammon being a metaphor for life.

Rating:  4.80

Four Into Three Won't Go

10 Apr 2006 - by Jake Jacobs

A frequent correspondent sends me positions. These come in two categories: times where Snowie disagrees with his play or cube decision - he is surprised by those; times where Snowie agrees with his decision - he is even more surprised by those.

Rating:  4.50

Lisle Style

15 Apr 2004 - by Jake Jacobs

I tend to collect more positions that involve cube decisions than positions featuring checker plays, and my articles are consequently overloaded with cubes. Today we'll look only at checker plays.

Rating:  5.00

Test Your Thai

15 Mar 2004 - by Jake Jacobs

Call your local Thai delivery service for a plate of 'Pad Thai', crack open a 'Singha' and take on the 10 positions in this month's quiz. If you achieve a perfect score, someone should pay your way to next year's Thai Open.

Rating:  4.83

Shooting For Par

15 Feb 2004 - by Jake Jacobs

On our last full day in Pattaya, several days after the 2004 Thai Open, my roommate Max Modesti planned a backgammon cruise on a 52-foot cabin cruiser... next time, I'll do the organizing.

Rating:  4.89

End Of The Season

15 Jan 2004 - by Jake Jacobs

Nine of the top 25 ABT point amassers for 2003 attended the 52nd Gammon Associates Invitational. It was one of the last opportunities to improved their standings... none did. The rest of us were merely there to improve our fiscal position.

Rating:  3.70

An Anthology Of Pros

15 Dec 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

A side benefit for me in attending the Pro Am is the chance to review the play of many of the world's top players just in time to help me fill out my ballot for the Giant 32. Let's look at some of the action.

Rating:  4.88

Time And Tide In Tokyo

15 Nov 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

Running out of time while playing with clock is fairly rare - this is the only match I know of where it has happened twice.

Rating:  4.88

Chinese Technology

17 Oct 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

The Chinese cosmologists long ago expressed a concept of the universe based upon yin and yang, two forces both opposed and complementary. If you lack yin you must have yang, or vice versa. Fine in theory, but what does this mean in practice?

Rating:  4.40

Of Meese And Men

15 Sep 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

The men, the women, the kids, and the Meeses were at the 51st Indiana Open. I had a mediocre tournament – if you are going to play badly, it is poor strategy to roll badly too – but I did have one good evening.

Rating:  4.64

A Big Finish

15 Aug 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

"Take a look at this one!" cried the Philanthropist. It was the last game of the night, so those not busy with important matters, like complaining about the bad dice they had rolled all night, moved close for a look.

Rating:  4.10

Notes From Ningbo

15 Jul 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

Introducing over a billion Chinese to backgammon might someday rank with other highlights of the China trade like KFC, the most popular fast food franchise in Ningbo, where some blocks have fewer than two outlets.

Rating:  4.38

Making Her Point

15 Jun 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

Lose to your teacher awhile - the first ten years, say - and then "when you can take this race from me with seven consecutive sets of double sixes Grasshopper, then you may leave this place".

Rating:  4.07

Return Of The Native

15 May 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

"When we told you to stock the club with pigeons," I said to Bill, "this wasn't what we meant!"

Rating:  4.91

Would You Eschew The Chou?

15 Apr 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

The backgammon population of Thailand swells during the year-end holidays and the chouette action gets wild and exciting.

Rating:  4.78

Quick And Dirty

15 Mar 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

In last month's column I promised coverage of a certain match with David Brown. One game was pivotal. I'll let you judge whether I deserved to lose it or not.

Rating:  4.90

Every Daugbjerg Has His Day

15 Feb 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

The good thing about taking was that soon I would either enjoy a big lead in the match, or be able to hail the waitress and say: "Nong, ow neung Sing, krab!"

Rating:  5.00

Jackpot Of Gold

15 Jan 2003 - by Jake Jacobs

Aside from the ProAm, the two most prestigious events held in the USA are the Super Jackpots offered during the spring and fall Las Vegas tournaments.

Rating:  4.73

The Biggest Little Tourney

15 Dec 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

What tournament has the highest concentration of top players, and the richest first prize? If you said the World Championship in Monte Carlo, think again.

Rating:  4.81

Seeing Stars

15 Nov 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

The Japan Open is all about a well-organized schedule, great food and of course, exciting matches! Jake fully enjoyed his trip, and best of all, won the Star Online added money event.

Rating:  5.00

The 2002 Vietor Cup

15 Oct 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

Backgammon may have been around for 5000 years, but contemplating its history I think not of Babylonian despots chouetting outside the temple of Marduk, but rather of Saturday morning cartoons.

Rating:  4.92

Not Sure If It's Fifty

15 Sep 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

Until they dig up downtown Indianapolis and find primitive dice cups, we may never know precisely when a Hoosier first thought to fling a cup up towards the heavens and scrutinize the position of the fallen bones.

Rating:  4.73

A Proper Bostonian

15 Aug 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

The proposition, or "prop," is vanishing from the backgammon scene. A prop arises when two or more players cannot agree on some feature of a position. Here, Jake presents some interesting props from his recent travels.

Rating:  4.80

Enduring "X"-Cellence

15 Jul 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

In the early 1970s Paul Magriel – X-22 - was already recognized as one of the world's best, and in the view of the top players of today he retains that ranking. At the recent Las Vegas Masters, Paul had a chance to show why he is so highly regarded.

Rating:  4.88

Closing Out The Open

15 Jun 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

While kibitzing the Kazaross/Trice match at the Chicago Open, a player walked up, laid two fives on the table and said, "Those are yours if you will go over to the match at the next table, count the pips, come back, and write down the answer for me."

Rating:  5.00

GA 48 II

15 May 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

In Hollywood, when they make a movie with the same cast, and the same story, they give it the same name and slap a Roman numeral on the end.

Rating:  4.30

It Was Down At The Balinese

15 Apr 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

"We fly the salmon up from Tasmania (is the difference between Tasmanian and Australian salmon – the accent?); the swordfish and tuna are caught locally (does one of the waiters go out with a net when your order is placed)".

Rating:  4.89

China Trade

15 Mar 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

Hong Kong is a nexus of trade. People don't walk along the streets, they bustle. Perhaps that is why it seems like every game is an 8-cube.

Rating:  4.80

Snowie Day

15 Feb 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

Snowie has been giving me grief. So I'm declaring a "Snowie day." No hard work, no tedious study of the best ace to play in a bearoff, no match equities, just a bit of fun.

Rating:  4.89

Wills Has A Way

15 Jan 2002 - by Jake Jacobs

Interesting creatures are drifting around the beaches of the world...

Rating:  4.43

Hit Or Stand Pat

15 Dec 2001 - by Jake Jacobs

Eleven is no longer considered a lucky number in Las Vegas.

Rating:  4.63

California Dreamin'

15 Nov 2001 - by Jake Jacobs

The AR Club of Beverly Hills is a splendid Backgammon venue.

Rating:  4.81

Fun Down In Tokyo

14 Oct 2001 - by Jake Jacobs

Sushi, karaoke and backgammon under an "excellent moon".

Rating:  4.70

Kazaross Is Back!

15 Sep 2001 - by Jake Jacobs

Neil Kazaross plays every roll like it is life or death.

Rating:  4.45

Crazy Chouette

15 Aug 2001 - by Jake Jacobs

Figure out the score in this chouette to win a prize.

Rating:  4.08

Michigan 2001

17 Jul 2001 - by Jake Jacobs

Chicago star David Wells had reason to smile on the last Saturday in June.

Rating:  5.00

Wide Chicago Open

15 Jun 2001 - by Jake Jacobs

Why did the doubling cube cross the board?

Rating:  4.67

Crouching Beaver - Hidden Gammon

15 May 2001 - by Jake Jacobs

The flick was a hit in the USA, but in Hong Kong they were not impressed...

Rating:  5.00

Midwest 2001

15 Apr 2001 - by Jake Jacobs

GammonVillage welcomes aboard Jake Jacobs as our second monthly columnist.

Rating:  5.00
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