Backgammon --- Frequently Asked Questions.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There are no planned updates for this document. As a result, IP address, mail addresses, phone numbers are bound to change. To find current information, I recommend using a search engine, or visiting Stephen Turners site.
Last modified: Mon Dec 18 10:51:27 1995
Mark Damish <>


Section 0: FORE FAQ

Definition , Editor , Purpose , Contributions , Availability, Disclaimer , Editorial , Changes Gratitude , and News .





Section E: MISC.

Section 0: FORE FAQ


   FAQ /F-A-Q/ or /faq/ [USENET] n.  1. A Frequently Asked Question.  2. A
       compendium of accumulated lore, posted periodically to high-volume
       newsgroups in an attempt to forestall such questions. Some people
       prefer the term 'FAQ list' or 'FAQL' /fa'kl/, reserving 'FAQ' for
       sense 1.
-- from: The jargon file, Version 2.9.12, 10 May 1993


Mark Damish


The purpose of this FAQ is to answer commonly asked questions which come up on the news group and to compile a set of resources which might be useful to backgammon players in general.


Contributions will be thankfully accepted. Send E-Mail to the editor of this list for inclusion and credit in future FAQs.


The FAQ will be posted on or around the 13th (13: is such a nice opening roll) of each month to, rec.answers and news.answers.

The FAQ is also available for anonymous ftp on: /pub/usenet/news.answers/games/backgammon-faq

The ascii FAQ may also be obtained vie E-mail. Just send mail to:

           send usenet/news.answers/games/backgammon-faq

in the body of the message.

HTML version:
An HTML (hypertext) version of the faq has been created. It is currently the `source' document for the ASCII version posted to, and the rtfm archive. Within the document there are ``links'' from the table of contents, links within the document, and several links to ftp sites and other documents which make getting around the document, and the backgammon portion of internet quite easy. This version of the FAQ is called bg-faq.html, and may be downloaded for local reading with a Web-Browser, or may be read on line at: or at: The HTML version of the faq is updated at this site when the ascii version is posted to

diff file:
A diff file will created and posted to the news group at the same time the FAQ is posted. This will contain the differences between successive FAQs. It will not be posted to the *.answers newsgroups, nor will it be archived at The purpose of the diff file is to show recent changes without having to browse the entire FAQ. DO NOT use this file to update previous versions of the FAQ as it will have been edited!


This posting is provided on an "as is" basis, NO WARRANTY whatsoever is expressed or implied, especially, NO WARRANTY that the information contained herein is correct or useful in any way, although both are intended.



Changes may be spotted by examining the `diff' file, which is posted at the same time as this FAQ. In the diff file, a `<' charactor preceding a line indicates that the line has been removed. Likewise, a `>' charactor indicates an addition. The diff file is edited and should not be used for updating from previous versions.


Major and minor contributions and suggestions from the following:

         Jeremy Bagai     Matchqiz review.
         Matthew Clegg    The `What is Internet' section.
         Paul Ferguson    Mac PD BG info. FIBS Client info.
         Erik Gravgaard   This and that.
         Molly Holzschlag GEnie/RSCARDS info
         rjohnson         Additional info for rules section A2.
         Mika Johnsson    Original Backgammon article compilation.
         Rolf Kleef       Nackgammon.
         Asger Kring      Danish Newsletter, Book supply info. more.
         Andy Latto       Jacoby, Holland, Beavers, Chouette, Useful advice.
         Mel Leifer       Many critical pieces of information.
         Peter Nickless   Acey-Deucy Submission.
         Perry R. Ross    LDB (Long Distance Backgammon) mail server info.
         Mark Rozer       Inspired me to play this game.
         Gerry Tesauro    Backgammon article pointers.
         Michael Urban    Boston area playing spots.
         Kit Woolsey      Software reviews. Contributor at large.
         Michael J. Zehr  Book Review, Holland rule, Combinitorics answer.
         Vincent Zweije   FIBS description. Narde description. Proof reader

        [I apologize if I missed anybody]
Thanks for ALL corrections sent!

PLUS Thanks to all who have submitted material to the news group, whether or not it has been used here. Material from is credited where used.

May you roll above average when you need it most.


      Information that may or may not be included in the current FAQ:

   From: alberto da pra (
   Subject: Olympiad of Backgammon
   Date: 2 Dec 1995 21:18:50 GMT

   The second edition of the Backgammon's Olympiad (the first was in the
   year 1992) will be in Venice from 25th to 30th June 1996. Who is
   intersted can ask info and the invitation.
   Alberto da Pra, President WBF
   Worldwide Backgammon Federation


   Subject: TD-Gammon available for free download
   Date: 9 Nov 1995 23:52:45 -0800

   IBM has made TD-Gammon, their supposedly groundbreaking neural network-
   based version of Backgammon, available for free download.  It seems to
   be part of an attempt to promote their IBM Family FunPack.  You can get
   it by surfing to and
   following the "Read the license information" link.  You will have to fill
   out a form with your name, address, etc.  (But nothing forces you to enter
   valid information. ;)  )


   The hypertext version of the FAQ is now available at:
    Thanks Stephen for mirroring the faq in the UK, which should allow
    for quicker access from Europe and the Middle East.


A1. What is backgammon?

``Backgammon is an obstacle race between two armies of 15 men each, moving around a track divided into 24 dagger-like divisions known as points.''

..The Rules

``It's just a game.''

-- Many

``Sport of mind.''

.. Alberto da Pra, President of WBF - Worldwide Backgammon Federation

``It's a game of skill and luck. When I win I can claim it's due to my good skill. When I lose I can claim it's due to my bad luck.''

-- submitted by David Forthoffer

``Backgammon is one of the oldest games in existence, dating back some 5000 years and believed to have been developed by the ancient Egyptians. It is not a game of luck as many believe, but a strategic game of war; in many ways as difficult to master as chess or Go. A random element (luck) is certainly involved, but a champion player also uses the laws of probability, intuition, imagination and psychology to outwit his opponent''.

-- From the foward of the Expert Backgammon (Mac) documentation.

``There's an aesthetic to the game, a flow. People think the game consists primarily of math --- calculating odds and so forth. That's not true. It's essentially a game of patterns, a visual game, like chess. Certain patterns fit together harmoniously, make sense in a away that is nontrivial.''

-- Paul Magriel

Answering ``Why do you play backgammon'':
``We have become a spectator society, one that experiences excellence and creativity only by watching it on television or by reading about it in newspapers or magazines...Perhaps the best way of becoming something more than a spectator is to pursue activities that do not receive mass media coverage. We can invent our own art forms, or at least re-label existing forms as art. Backgammon, though it is very old and very common, is an excellent art form. Patterns of points and blots undergo poignant mutations. The player strains to work with them, to control them. One's identity is not entirely intrinsic, nor is it purely acquired. We can shape ourselves just as we can shape our surroundings. By playing backgammon, that is - by creating patterns of blots and points - I help to shape my identity, I set myself apart from the spectators. I become alive.''

-- Felix Yen (from Anchors, Jan 92)

A2. What are the basic rules of the game?

Backgammon Equipment

  • A Backgammon board or layout.
  • Thirty round stones, or checkers, 15 each of two different colors, generally referred to as `men'.
  • A pair of regular dice, numbered from 1 to 6. (For convenience, two pairs of dice, one for each player, are generally used.)
  • A dice cup, used to shake and cast the dice. (Again, it is more convenient to have two dice cups.)
  • A doubling cube---A six-faced die, marked with the numerals 2,4,8,16,32 & 64. This is used to keep track of the number of units at stake in each game, as well as to mark the player who last doubled.

The backgammon board

Backgammon is an obstacle race between two armies of 15 men each, moving around a track divided into 24 dagger-like divisions known as ``points''.

The Backgammon layout is divided down the center by a partition, known as the ``bar'' (See Diagram 1), into an outer and inner (or home) board or table. The side nearest you is your outer and home tables; the side farther away is your opponents outer and home boards. The arrows indicate the direction of play.

For purposes of convenience we have numbered the points in the diagram. Though the points are not numbered on the actual board, they are frequently referred to during play to describe a move or a position. Your (X's) 4-point or 8-point will always be on your side of the board; your opponent's (O's) will always be on his side of the board.

A move from your 9-point to your 5-point is four spaces (the bar does not count as a space). A move from White's 12-point to your 12-point, though it crosses from his board to yours, is but one space, for these two points are really next to each other.

Diagram 2 shows the board set up ready for play. Each side has five men on his 6-point, three men on his 8-point, five men on his opponent's 12-point, and two men, known as ``runners'', on his opponents' 1-point. The runners will have to travel the full length of the track, the other men have shorter distances to go. Note that play proceeds in opposite directions, so that the men can be set up in two ways. Turn the diagram upside down to see the layout if play were proceeding in the other direction.

      |   +-----------------------------< X moves this direction
      |   |
      |   |
      |   |    13 14 15 16 17 18       19 20 21 22 23 24
      |   |   +------------------------------------------+
      |   |   | .  .  .  .  .  . |   |  .  .  .  .  .  . |
      |   |   | .  .  .  .  .  . |   |  .  .  .  .  .  . |
      |   |   | .  .  .  .  .  . |   |  .  .  .  .  .  . |
      |   |   | .  .  .  .  .  . |   |  .  .  .  .  .  . |
      |   |   | .  .  .  .  .  . |   |  .  .  .  .  .  . |
      |   |   |                  |   |                   |  +----+
      ^   v   |   Outer Board    |BAR|     Home Board    |  | 64 |
      |   |   |                  |   |                   |  +----+
      |   |   | P  O  I  N  T  S |   |  .  .  .  .  .  . | Doubling
      |   |   | .  .  .  .  .  . |   |  .  .  .  .  .  . |   Cube
      |   |   | .  .  .  .  .  . |   |  .  .  .  .  .  . |
      |   |   | .  .  .  .  .  . |   |  .  .  .  .  .  . |
      |   |   | .  .  .  .  .  . |   |  .  .  .  .  .  . |
      |   |   +------------------------------------------+
      |   |    12 11 10  9  8  7        6  5  4  3  2  1
      |   |
      |   +---------------------------------------------->

      +---------------------------------< Y moves this direction

                  Diagram 1  (Numbered from X's point of view)

       13 14 15 16 17 18       19 20 21 22 23 24
      | X  .  .  .  O  . |   |  O  .  .  .  .  X |
      | X           O    |   |  O              X |
      | X           O    |   |  O                |
      | X                |   |  O                |
      | X                |   |  O                |  +----+
      |                  |BAR|                   |  | 64 |
      | O                |   |  X                |  +----+
      | O                |   |  X                |
      | O           X    |   |  X                |
      | O           X    |   |  X              O |
      | O  .  .  .  X  . |   |  X  .  .  .  .  O |
       12 11 10  9  8  7        6  5  4  3  2  1

      Diagram #2  (Numbered from X's point of view)

Object of the game

The object of Backgammon is for each player to bring all his men into his home board, and then to bear them off the board. The first player to get all his men off the board is the winner.

Starting the game

Each player casts one die. The player with the higher number makes the first move, using the two numbers cast by his die and his opponent's. In the event that both players roll the same number, it is a standoff and each rolls another die to determine the first move. In the event of subsequent ties, this process is repeated until the dice turn up different numbers. (In some games, players double the unit stake automatically every time they cast the same number; others limit the automatic doubles to one. In tournament play, there is no such thing as an automatic double.)

Moving your men

Each player's turn consists of the roll of two dice. He then moves one or more men in accordance with the numbers cast. Assume he rolls 4-2. He may move one man six spaces, or one man four spaces and another man two spaces. Bear in mind that, when moving a single man for the total shown by the two dice, you are actually making two moves with the one man---each move according to the number shown on one of the dice.


If the same number appears on both dice, for example, 2-2 or 3-3 (known as doublets), the caster is entitled to four moves instead of two. Thus, if he rolls 3-3, he can move up to four men, but each move must consist of three spaces.

The players throw and play alternately throughout the game, except in the case where a player cannot make a legal move and therefore forfeits his turn.

Making points

A player makes a point by positioning two or more of his men on it. He then ``owns'' that point, and his opponent can neither come to rest on that point nor touch down on it when taking the combined total of his dice with one man.


A player who has made six consecutive points has completed a prime. An opposing man trapped behind a prime cannot move past, for it cannot be moved more than six spaces at a time---the largest number on a die.


A single man on a point is called a blot. If you move a man onto an opponent's blot, or touch down on it in the process of moving the combined total of your cast, the blot is hit, removed from the board and placed on the bar.

A man that has been hit must re-enter in the opposing home table. A player may not make any move until such time as he has brought the man on the bar back into play. Re-entry is made on a point equivalent to the number of one of the dice cast, providing that point is not owned by the opponent.

Closed board

A Player who has made all six points in his home board is said to have a closed board. If the opponent has any men on the bar, he will not be able to re-enter it since there is no vacant point in his adversary;s home board. Therefore, he forfeits his rolls, and continues to do so until such time as the player has to open up a point in his home board, thus providing a point of rentry. It should be noted, the he doesn't loses his turn, as he still retains the ability to double his opponent before any of his opponents rolls, assuming the cube is centered or on his side.

Compulsory move

A player is compelled to take his complete move if there is any way for him to do so. If he can take either of the numbers but not both, he must take the higher number if possible, the lower if not.

[Another way of saying this...]

  • If both parts of the roll can be played legally, then this must be done. Note that you may play the roll in such a way as to move fewer pips than the larger die indicates by playing the smaller die first --- this is common in bearoff situations, and legal as long as each part of the roll is played legally at the moment you play it.
  • If only one part of the roll can be played legally, then you must play the higher die if possible; if not, play the lower die.


Bearing off

Once a player has brought all his men into his home board, he can commence bearing off. Men borne off the board are not re-entered into play. The player who bears off all his men first is the winner. A player may not bear off men while he has a man on the bar, or outside his home board. Thus if, in the process of bearing off, a player leaves a blot and it is hit by his opponent, he must first re-enter the man in his opponents home board, and bring it round the board into his own home board before he can continue the bearing off process.

In bearing off, you remove men from the points corresponding to the numbers on the dice cast. However, you are not compelled to remove a man. You may, if you can, move a man inside your home board a number of spaces equivalent to the number of a die.

If you roll a number higher than the highest point on which you have a man, you may apply that number to your highest occupied point. Thus, if you roll 6-3 and your 6-point has already been cleared but you have men on your 5-point, you may use your 6 to remove a man from your 5-point.

In some cases it may be advantagous to play the smaller die first before applying the higher die to your highest point (See Compulsory Move). For example, suppose you have one checker on your 5 point, and two checkers on your 2 point. Your opponent has a checker on the ace (one point) and on the bar. You roll 6-3. You may play the 3 to the 2 point then the 6 to bear a checker off the 2 point leaving your opponent no shots (no blots for the opponent to hit). The alternative, using the 6-3 to bear checkers off both the 5 and 2 points, would leave your opponent 20 out of 36 ways to hit your remaining blot.

Gammon and Backgammon

If you bear off all 15 of your men before your opponent has borne off a single man, you win a gammon, or double game.

If you bear off all 15 of your men before your opponent has borne off a single man, and he still has one or more men in your home board or on the bar, you win a backgammon, or a triple game.

Cocked dice

It is customary to cast your dice in your right-hand board. Both dice must come to rest completely flat in that board. If one die crosses the bar into the other table, or jumps off the board, or does not come to rest flat, or ends up resting on one of the men, the dice are ``cocked'' and the whole throw, using both dice, must be retaken.

A3. What is the doubling cube for?

The introduction of the doubling cube into the game is largely responsible for the leap in popularity of modern backgammon.

Each face of the doubling cube bears a number to record progressive doubles and redoubles, starting with 2 and going on to 4, 8, 16, 32 & 64. At the commencement of play, the doubling cube rests on the bar, between the two players, or at the side of the board. At any point during the game, a player who thinks he is sufficiently ahead may, when it is his turn to play and before he casts his dice, propose to double the stake by turning the cube to 2. His opponent may decline to accept the double, in which case he forfeits the game and loses 1 unit, or accept the double, in which case the game continues with the stake at 2 units. The player who accepts the double now ``owns'' the cube---which means that he has the option t redouble at any point during the rest of the game, but his opponent (the original doubler) may not. If, at a later stage he exercises this option, his opponent is now faced with a similar choice. He may either decline the redouble and so lose 2 units, or accept and play for 4, and he now ``owns'' the cube. A player may double when he is on the bar even if his opponent has a closed board and he cannot enter. Though he does not roll the dice, for he cannot make a move, he still has the right to double. Note that gammon doubles or backgammon triples the stake of the cube.

A4. What is the Crawford rule? (Why won't FIBS let me double?)

  From the FIBS  help screens:

  If you are playing an n-point match and your opponent is ahead
  of you and he gets to n-1 points you are not allowed to use
  the doubling cube in the next game to come

             5 point match
     game #   You      opponent
        1      0          3
        2      0          4
        3      1          4   (you were not allowed to double in this game)
        4      3          4   (you were allowed to double again)
       ...    ...        ...

   The Crawford rule is universally used in backgammon match play.

A5. What is the Jacoby rule?

The Jacoby rule is used in money games. It states, that a gammon or backgammon may not be scored as such unless the cube has been passed and accepted. The purpose is to speed up play by eliminating long undoubled games.

The Jacoby rule is never used in match play.

A6. What is the Holland rule?

This rule applies to match games and states that in post-Crawford games the trailer can only double after both sides have played two rolls. It makes the free drop more valuable to the leader but generally just confuses the issue.

Unlike the Crawford rule, the Holland rule has not proved popular, and is rarely used today.

A7. What are those critters --- Beavers, raccoons?

In money play, if player A doubles, and player B believes that he is a favorite holding the cube, he may turn the cube an extra notch as he takes, and keep the cube on his own side. For example, if A makes an initial double to 2, B may, instead of taking the double and holding a 2 cube, say ``beaver'', turn the cube an extra notch to 4, and continue the game holding a 4 cube.

If A believes that B's beaver was in error, some play that he may then ``raccoon'', turning the cube yet another notch (to 8 in the example). Cube ownership remains with B. B may then if he wishes turn the cube yet another notch, saying ``aardvark'', or ``otter'' or whatever silly animal name he prefers (the correct animal is a matter of controversy), and so forth.

Beavers and the rest of the animals may be played or not in money play, as the players wish.

Beavers and other animals are never used in match play.

-- Andy Latto

It should be noted that the original cube turner can drop a beaver. For example, suppose I miscount a bearoff and double, you accept and say you want to beaver. I realize something is wrong and recount. If I am horribly behind, I can drop the beaver, paying you the value on the cube before you beavered.

-michael j zehr

A8. What is a Chouette?

A Chouette is a social backgammon variant for more than 2 players. One player is ``the box'', and plays against all other players on a single board. One other player is the captain, and rolls the dice and makes the plays for the team that opposes the box. If the box wins, the captain goes to the back of the line, and the next player becomes captain. If the captain wins, the box goes to the back of the line, and the captain becomes the new box.

Customs vary as to the rights of the captain's partners: In some Chouettes, they may consult freely as to the way rolls should be played. In others, consultation is prohibited. A compromise, where consultation is allowed only after the cube has been turned, is popular.

Originally, Chouettes were played with a single cube. The only decisions that players other than the captain were allowed to make independently concerned takes: If the box doubled, each player on the team could take or drop independently. Today, multiple-cube Chouettes are more popular; each player on the team has his own cube, and all doubling, dropping, and taking decisions are made independently by all players.

-- Andy Latto

A9. Basic Strategy for Beginners.

Single checkers (blots) on a point are vulnerable to enemy attack and must start over if hit by n opponent's checker. Two or more checkers on a point are safe from attack and can also be used for blocking or trapping your opponent.

Essentially backgammon is a race to see who takes off all of his checkers first. However, the shortest distance between two points is not always a straight line. Most beginners, rarely leave exposed checkers and hit as often as they can. As you will find out, this seemingly logical approach is not the best strategy. The following is a simplification of some of the factors that you should consider in forming a winning game plan:

Distribution is how evenly your checkers are divided among the points occupied. It is usually better to have 3 checkers each on two different points rather than 4 checkers one and 2 on the other. You should rarely have six checkers on a point and almost never have any more. A player with even distribution will seemingly get "luckier" dice than his less flexible opponent.

Don't be afraid to leave shots early in the game to establish a strong offense or defense. Be more cautious as your enemy's home board gets stronger. The more points he has in his home board, the more difficult it will be for you to re-enter after being hit. Conversely, the more points that you control in your enemy's home board (anchors) the bolder you may play. Even if his board is weak, limit the number of blots (single checkers) to no more than four. If you are significantly ahead in the race or position, then restrict your exposure to maintain your lead.

Blocking and Priming.
Try to build points without gaps between them directly in front of the enemy checkers in your home board to prevent their escape. Establishing these critical points as early as possible in approximate order of importance: 5, 4, 7 to start your blockade. Six points in a row is called a prime. This makes it impossible for your opponent to escape for as long as you can maintain that structure.

Try to hit checkers that are the most advanced or checkers that your opponent would like to cover to establish an important point. Attack only when it is advantageous to do so. For example, if you already have two enemy checkers on the bar, it is more critical to make another point in your home board than to hit a third checker. Also refrain from hitting if it makes you more vulnerable than your opponent. Keep your objectives in mind and don't be side-tracked. However, there is an old backgammon adage that still carries weight, "When in doubt, hit."

Anchoring is establishing a defensive point (anchor) in your enemies home board. This gives you a landing spot to come in on should you get hit and prevents your opponent from making his home board. Early in the game try to establish anchors on the higher points (20,21). If you become significantly behind in the race, the lower points (22,23,24) have more value as your strategy is to build your home board and wait for a shot. If you have two anchors try to keep them on adjacent points.
These are just a few ideas for the beginner to get started and is not meant as a tutorial. There are many fine books available if you awant more information.

From Macintosh Expert Backgammon Documentation by Tom Johnson

A10. Opening Rolls.

From: (Kit Woolsey)
Subject: Re: What are the best ways to play the opening rolls?
Date: Sun, 19 Mar 1995 05:19:43 GMT


Now, on the what I believe is an accurate synopsis of the 15 possible opening rolls:

2-1: The slotting play 13/11, 6/5 and the splitting play 24/23, 13/11, the two most common plays, seem to be about equal. Nothing else is a serious contender.

3-1: 8/5, 6/5 is obviously the only play.

4-1: The splitting play 24/23, 13/9 has come out clearly superior to the slotting play 13/9, 6/5. Probably the reason is that with the builder on the 9 point there are so many good pointing numbers next turn anyway that you don't need the 5 point slotted.

5-1: The splitting play 24/23, 13/8 has come out a bit better than the slotting play 13/8, 6/5. A third less common alternative, 24/18, came out clearly worse.

6-1: The obvious 13/7, 8/7 is correct. Magriel's experiment of 13/7, 6/5 is awful.

3-2: The splitting play 24/21, 13/11 came out a bit better than building with 13/10, 13/11.

4-2: 8/4, 6/4 of course.

5-2: The normal play for years has been 13/11, 13/8. However the newer splitting play, 24/22, 13/8, (shunned because of the crushing 5-5 threat) has come out a bit better. The slotting play of 13/8, 6/4 (which used to be my choice) did not survive the rollouts -- it was clearly inferior.

6-2: The splitting play of 24/18, 13/11 comes out fairly clearly superior. Running with 24/16 is 2nd, but the run isn't far enough. Slotting with 13/5 (a common choice several years ago) was definitely in third place.

4-3: The building play of 13/10, 13/9 and the common splitting play of 24/20, 13/10 were just about tied. The alternative split of 24/21, 13/9 was only a little behind.

5-3: The simple 8/3, 6/3 is clearly best. The once common 13/10, 13/8 has been found vastly inferior.

6-3: The splitting 24/18, 13/10 comes out best, but the running play of 24/15 is not too far behind.

5-4: Splitting with 24/20, 13/8 and building with 13/9, 13/8 come out quite close (that builder on the 9 point is powerful), with the split generally a tiny bit better. 24/15 is weaker still.

6-4: Both running with 24/14 and splitting with 24/18, 13/9 are about equal. However the once laughed at 8/2, 6/2 has reared its head as a serious contender and comes out about equal with the other choices -- nice play to try if you get familiar with it, since your opponent probably won't be.

6-5: The simple 24/13 is clearly better than any other possibilities.


B1. FIBS (First Internet Backgammon Server)

FIBS Introduction

On July 19, 1992 at 10:56:22 GMT, Marvin announced the birth of the FIBS. FIBS is an abbreviation for First Internet Backgammon Server. It is a server program written by Andreas Schneider Praise to him!

After using a site in Aachen Germany, It moved to the present site ins Sweden on December 3, 1993.

You can connect to FIBS using telnet; the server runs on machine (raw address Be sure to telnet to port 4321, because telnetting to the default port will give you a regular unix login prompt, which will be of no use to you since you probably have no account on that machine. For instance, on a unix machine which is connected directly to the internet, you issue one of the following commands:

        telnet 4321
        telnet 4321

and then you are connected to FIBS.

Now you have to log in to FIBS. If you already have an account on FIBS, you use the login name and password you selected. If you're a first time user, you must log in as guest. Then you are granted a limited kind of access, until you make yourself known by choosing a FIBS user name and a password. From that moment on, you can use FIBS to play against other players, human or otherwise, from all over the world.

Here is an example connect and login sequence for new users:

   %telnet 4321
   Trying ...
   Connected to
   Escape character is '^]'.

            _______   _          ______            _____
           |  _____| | |        |  __  \          / ____|
           | |___    | |        | |__|  |        | |____
           |  ___|   | |        |  __  <          \____ \
           | |       | |        | |__|  |          ____| |
           |_|irst   |_|nternet |______/ackgammon |_____/erver

         If something unexpected happens please send mail to: (Andreas Schneider)
                      Bug reports are welcome.

       This server is on the net to meet people from all countries.
     All sorts of racists and fascists are not allowed to login here!
        Rude language will not be tolerated on this server. Be nice.

		     One account per person only!

   Friday, September 30 10:23:10 MET   ( Fri Sep 30 09:23:10 1994 UTC )
   login: guest
   Welcome to FIBS. You just logged in as guest.
   Please register before using this server:

   Type 'name username' where username is the name you want to use.
   The username may not contain blanks ' ' or colons ':'.
   The system will then ask you for your password twice.
   Please make sure that you don't forget your password. All
   passwords are encrypted before they are saved. If you forget
   your password there is no way to find out what it was.
   Please type 'bye' if you don't want to register now.

   > name Newbie
   Please give your password:
   Please retype your password:
   You are registered.
   Type 'help beginner' to get started.

Once logged in, you are wise to read the help screens of FIBS. Read about how not to hear other people's shoutings, how the rating system works, how to watch other people play, how to talk to other people, how to invite people to play, and of couse, how to play. Everything you need is in the help screens. One thing: if you wish to read the help screens without logging into FIBS, they have been made available to WWW by Mike Quinn at Mark Damish made a version available for ftp or online reading from

When you are a little accustomed to FIBS, you can enter tournaments, which are organised occasionally by volunteers. Read newsgroup, check out FIBS' login message, or listen for rumours spreading. Also, if you like FIBS, it will pay you to take the trouble to install/use a more friendly interface than a simple telnet client program. Several of these are available, see section Are there any GUI's for FIBS?.

FIBS description last updated on October 4th, 1994 by Vincent Zweije (


FIBS Command Help Summary. (One liners)

  • about - display information about the server
  • accept - accepting doubles and resigns
  • address - make your email address known to other users.
  • autologin - how the tinymud style autologin feature works
  • average - show average number of users
  • away - leaving a message for other users before leaving the terminal
  • back - back again after the away command was used
  • beaver - offering an instant redouble that is a beaver
  • beginner - very short introduction to the server
  • blind - Stop people from watching you.
  • board - displays the board again
  • boardstyle - the various boardstyles
  • bye - leave the first internet backgammon server. Aliases for bye include: adios, ciao, tschoe, end, exti, logout, and quit.
  • client - one way to use a client
  • cls - clear the screen on a vt100 terminal
  • commands - how commands are entered.
  • complaints - how to complain about cheaters
  • countries - where do the players live
  • crawford - The Crawford rule
  • date - equivalent to the time command
  • dicetest - show statistics about the dice
  • double - Ship that cube!
  • erase - How and why accounts are erased
  • formula - The formulas used to calculate rating changes
  • gag - Inhibit yourself from hearing a players shouts etc...
  • help - help on different topic
  • hostnames - how to interpret hostnames given by the who command
  • invite - invite another user to play a game of backgammon
  • join - accept an invitation from another player
  • kibitz - talking to players and watchers
  • last - Display information about login times
  • leave - leave and save a game
  • look - Take a short look at a game
  • man - alias for help
  • message - Leave a message for a user
  • motd - Display the message of the day
  • move - Moving pieces on the board
  • names - name completion
  • off - bear off pieces with every possible move
  • oldboard - Display the board of a saved game.
  • oldmoves - Display the moves of a saved game.
  • otter - Offering an instant redouble that is an otter
  • panic - save a game to a special file
  • password - change password
  • pip - Display pip count
  • raccoon - Offering an instant redouble that is a raccoon
  • ratings - Display information from the rating list
  • rawboard - how to interpret the raw board output
  • rawwho - A version of the who command for client programs.
  • redouble - accepting doubles by redoubling
  • reject - Drop a double. Reject a resignation.
  • resign - resign a game
  • roll - roll the dice
  • rules - The basic rules of backgammon
    • rule1 - how the board looks like
    • rule2 - the direction you move pieces
    • rule3 - the goal of the game
    • rule4 - rolling the dice
    • rule5 - moving pieces
    • rule6 - moving pieces
    • rule7 - bearing off pieces
    • rule8 - winning
    • rule9 - doubling
  • save - save your current toggle settings
  • say - talk to your opponent
  • screen - how to tell FIBS about your screen
  • set - how to set variables that are not toggles
  • shout - say something to all users
  • show - Display information
  • shutdown - shutdown the server (privileged users)
  • sortwho - how the 'who' command sorts it's output
  • stat - display system usage information about the server
  • tell - say something to a specific player
  • time - display the current time
  • timezones - How the server supports different timezones
  • tinyfugue - a few hints on using the TinyFugue client
  • toggle - display or change the value of toggles
    • toggle-allowpip - Enable/Disable the servers `pip' command.
    • toggle-autoboard - Enable/Disable automatic board redraws.
    • toggle-autodouble - Enable/Disable Auomatic doubles on the 1st roll.
    • toggle-automove - Enable/Disable Automatic movement of forced rolls.
    • toggle-bell - Enable/Disable the bell in talking or invites.
    • toggle-crawford - Enable/Disable Crawford. Both players need to agree.
    • toggle-double - Enable/Disable automatic rolling.
    • toggle-greedy - Enable/Disable automatic bearoffs if possible.
    • toggle-moreboards - Redraw every move, or every move and roll.
    • toggle-moves - Enable/Disable listing of moves at end of game.
    • toggle-notify - Enable/Disable server notification of players logging in and out.
    • toggle-ratings - Enable/Disable the display of the rating calculation.
    • toggle-rawboard - Replaced by set boardstyle <1..3>
    • toggle-ready - Toggles wether you are ready to play games.
    • toggle-report - Enable/Disable server messages when other players start or finish a match.
    • toggle-silent - Enable/Disable hearing players shouts.
    • toggle-telnet - Toggles extra newlines.
    • toggle-wrap - Toggles whether you or the server wraps lines larger than 80 charactors.
  • unwatch - stop watching a player
  • version - display version number of the server
  • watch - watch a player
  • wave - wave goodbye before leaving to players who receive shouts
  • where - display full hostnames
  • whisper - say something to watchers of a game
  • who - display information about currently logged in users
  • whois - Display information about a player
  • !! - repeat the last command

[Last updated June 1995. Are there any missing commands?]

For more detailed information on FIBS commands, type ``help'' at the while on FIBS or check out Michael Quinn's Guide to FIBS at:

FIBS Ratings

FIBS Rating Formula [From the FIBS man pages.]

formula - The formulas used to calculate rating changes

These are the formulas used to determine the ratings of a player: Let's say that two players P1 and P2 were playing a n-point match. The ratings of the players are r1 for P1 and r2 for P2 .

  • Let D = abs(r1-r2) (rating difference)
  • Let P_upset = 1/(10^(D*sqrt(n)/2000)+1) (probability that underdog wins)
  • Let P=1-P_upset if the underdog wins and P= P_upsetif the favorite wins.< /LI>< /LI>< /LI>< /LI>< /LI>< /LI>

  • For the winner:
    • Let K = max ( 1 , -experience/100+5 )
    • The rating change is: 4*K*sqrt(n)*P
  • For the loser:
    • Let K = max ( 1 , -experience/100+5 )
    • The rating change is: -4*K*sqrt(n)*P

The 'experience' of a player is the sum of the lengths of all matches a player has finished. Every player starts with a rating of 1500 and an experience of 0.

ratings (Gerald E Mortensen)
   Subject: fibs ratings formula plots
   Date: 23 Dec 1994 22:28:16 GMT
i made these plots from the fibs ratings formula. experience >500. if you can't read these try setting your font to fixed or courier.

                      P(win) vs. ratings difference
    0.8 ++-----+-------+------+-------+------+------+-------+-----++
        +      +       +      +       +      +      +       +  C   +
        |                             :                     C      |
    0.7 ++                            :                 C      B  ++
        |                             :             C       B      |
        |                             :                 B          |
        |                             :          C  B              |
    0.6 ++                            :      C   B          A  A  ++
        |                             :      B      A   A          |
        |                             :  B   A   A                 |
    0.5 ++                        A   A  A                        ++
        |                 A   A   B   :                            |
        |          A   A      B       :                            |
    0.4 ++  A  A          B   C       :           1 pt match  A   ++
        |              B  C           :           5 pt match  B    |
        |          B                  :           9 pt match  C    |
        |      B       C              :                            |
    0.3 ++  B      C                  :                           ++
        |      C                      :                            |
        +   C  +       +      +       +      +      +       +      +
    0.2 ++-----+-------+------+-------+------+------+-------+-----++
      -400   -300    -200   -100      0     100    200     300    400

              ratings change for a win vs. ratings difference
     10 ++-----+-------+------+-------+------+------+-------+-----++
        +      +       +      +       +      +      +       +      +
      9 ++  C                         :                           ++
        |      C   C                  :                            |
      8 ++             C              :           1 pt match  A   ++
        |                             :           5 pt match  B    |
        |                 C           :           9 pt match  C    |
      7 ++                    C       :                           ++
        |   B                     C   :                            |
      6 ++     B   B                  C                           ++
        |              B  B           :  C                         |
      5 ++                    B       :      C                    ++
        |                         B   B          C                 |
      4 ++                            :  B          C             ++
        |                             :      B   B      C          |
        |                             :             B   B   C      |
      3 ++                            :                     B  B  ++
        |   A  A   A   A  A           :                            |
      2 ++                    A   A   A  A   A   A  A   A         ++
        +      +       +      +       +      +      +       A  A   +
      1 ++-----+-------+------+-------+------+------+-------+-----++
      -400   -300    -200   -100      0     100    200     300    400
                   ratings diff (your rating - opponent's)

ratings change is the same for both players if both have experience > than 500 (or have equal experience < 500).

jay (wilfo)

   FIBS - Rating Changes                                2/16/95

                change in rating when favorite wins
   rate                    points in match
   diff    1       2       3       5       7       9       11
   0       2.00    2.83    3.46    4.47    5.29    6.00    6.63
   40      1.95    2.74    3.33    4.24    4.97    5.59    6.13
   80      1.91    2.64    3.19    4.01    4.65    5.18    5.63
   120     1.86    2.55    3.05    3.79    4.34    4.77    5.14
   160     1.82    2.46    2.92    3.56    4.03    4.38    4.67
   200     1.77    2.37    2.78    3.35    3.73    4.01    4.22
   240     1.73    2.28    2.65    3.13    3.44    3.65    3.79
   280     1.68    2.19    2.52    2.93    3.16    3.31    3.39
   320     1.64    2.11    2.39    2.73    2.90    2.99    3.02
   360     1.59    2.02    2.27    2.54    2.65    2.69    2.68
   400     1.55    1.94    2.15    2.35    2.42    2.41    2.37
   440     1.50    1.86    2.03    2.18    2.20    2.15    2.08
   480     1.46    1.78    1.92    2.01    1.99    1.92    1.83

                   change in rating when underdog wins
   rate                     points in match
   diff    1       2       3      5        7       9       11
   0       2.00    2.83    3.46    4.47    5.29    6.00    6.63
   40      2.05    2.92    3.60    4.70    5.61    6.41    7.14
   80      2.09    3.01    3.74    4.93    5.93    6.82    7.64
   120     2.14    3.10    3.88    5.16    6.25    7.23    8.13
   160     2.18    3.19    4.01    5.38    6.56    7.62    8.60
   200     2.23    3.28    4.15    5.60    6.86    7.99    9.05
   240     2.27    3.37    4.28    5.81    7.14    8.35    9.48
   280     2.32    3.46    4.41    6.02    7.42    8.69    9.88
   320     2.36    3.55    4.53    6.22    7.68    9.01    10.2
   360     2.41    3.63    4.66    6.41    7.93    9.31    10.6
   400     2.45    3.72    4.78    6.59    8.17    9.59    10.9
   440     2.50    3.80    4.89    6.76    8.39    9.85    11.2
   480     2.54    3.88    5.01    6.93    8.59    10.1    11.4

                  ratio  -  points lost to points won by favorite
   rate                     points in match
   diff    1       2       3       5       7       9       11
   0       1.00    1.00    1.00    1.00    1.00    1.00    1.00
   40      1.05    1.07    1.08    1.11    1.13    1.15    1.17
   80      1.10    1.14    1.17    1.23    1.28    1.32    1.36
   120     1.15    1.22    1.27    1.36    1.44    1.51    1.58
   160     1.20    1.30    1.38    1.51    1.63    1.74    1.84
   200     1.26    1.38    1.49    1.67    1.84    2.00    2.15
   240     1.32    1.48    1.61    1.85    2.08    2.29    2.50
   280     1.38    1.58    1.75    2.06    2.35    2.63    2.91
   320     1.45    1.68    1.89    2.28    2.65    3.02    3.39
   360     1.51    1.80    2.05    2.53    2.99    3.47    3.95
   400     1.58    1.92    2.22    2.80    3.38    3.98    4.61
   440     1.66    2.05    2.40    3.10    3.82    4.57    5.37
   480     1.74    2.18    2.60    3.44    4.31    5.25    6.25

         Batting Average for favorite to maintain rating
         points in match

   diff   1    2    3    5    7    9   11
    0  .500 .500 .500 .500 .500 .500 .500
    40 .512 .516 .520 .526 .530 .534 .538
    80 .523 .533 .540 .551 .561 .569 .576
   120 .534 .549 .560 .577 .590 .602 .613
   160 .546 .565 .579 .602 .619 .635 .648
   200 .557 .581 .598 .626 .648 .666 .682
   240 .569 .596 .617 .650 .675 .696 .714
   280 .580 .612 .636 .673 .701 .725 .744
   320 .591 .627 .654 .695 .726 .751 .772
   360 .602 .642 .672 .716 .750 .776 .798
   400 .613 .657 .689 .737 .772 .799 .822
   440 .624 .672 .706 .756 .793 .820 .843
   480 .635 .686 .723 .775 .812 .840 .862

FIBS ratings tables submitted by William C. Bitting

FIBS ratings reports are posted regularly to Back issues are available from:

Computer Programs On Fibs

Currently there several computer programs on FIBS:
tesauro (the original neural net bg program TD-Gammon)
mloner (neural net)
idiot (neural net (JellyFish))
jellyfish (nn)
loner (The 1-pt version of mloner)
fatboy (nn)
fattest (nn)
jemina (Algrithmic, entering cocoon, to emerge as a nn)
Big_Brother (only logs matches)

Some programs play with humans entering the data, while others are full fledged bots.

FIBS Misc.

FIBS (and FIBS/W) Instruction book.

Hunter Jones has put together a very nice reference to FIBS and FIBS/W. It is nicely typeset and printed on heavy paper stock. The contents make a nice reference to FIBS and the FIBS/W interface. Commands are pre-sorted by catagory, and it makes looking for an answer extremely easy. It is 8 pages on 6 sheets of paper, and is especially worthwile for the new player. It is not just a rehash of the man pages.

Price is $4 for U.S. addresses, $6 US for foreign addresses. All payments must be in US funds (check, money order or cash). If you wish expedited shipment, enclose suitable payment. (For example, $10 additional for US FedEx overnight.) Be sure to enclose your address (FedEx and the like cannot deliver to PO Boxes.)

Contact Hunter Jones at:

6617 Struttmann Lane
Rockland MD

   Subject: online FIBS help for OS/2 users
   Date: 7 Mar 1995 03:45:57 GMT

   For FIBS players who use OS/2:

   I recently created an online help file (.INF) for all the FIBS
   commands.  It's basically the same help you get from the FIBS server
   but with hyper-text links to related commands.

   If you're new to FIBS, I'm sure it will help - although I can't
   guarantee it will increase your FIBS rating ;)

   Email me if your interested, I can send it via uuencode mail.


B2. What is the Internet and how do I get onto it?

[This is copied verbatim, with permission, from OK.FAQ. References to 'OK' are referring to the bridge server.]

[Permission from (Matthew Clegg) for use here.]

In addition to having access to a Unix system, you must also be connected to the Internet. The Internet is a worldwide computer network which was founded for the sake of promoting research and education. Recently, the Internet has been broadening its mission and it's likely that soon the Internet will be open for commercial as well as educational uses.

Already it is possible for the general public to obtain access to the Internet for a modest fee in many metropolitan areas of the US. A few representative Internet providers include:

   Area Served    Voice No.     Email                Organization
   -----------    --------      -----                ------------
   West Coast     408-554-UNIX      Netcom Online Comm. Svcs
   Boston         617-739-0202 The World
   New York City  212-877-4854     PANIX Public Access Unix

Many OKbridgers play from home using a PC or Mac and a modem. Frequently, these people have obtained access to the Internet by purchasing an account from a "public access Unix system connected to the Internet," which is the jargon describing the service provided by the above companies. Having obtained such an account, it is usually a simple matter to obtain OKbridge and begin playing (see below).

If you will be searching for a means to use OKbridge, it is important to remember the wording, "public access Unix system (directly) connected to the Internet." There are a number of BBS operators who have Email connections to the Internet, but this is not sufficient. Also, there are several network services which provide access to the Internet but which are not Unix based (Delphi is a notable example).

For more information about the Internet, which is an amazing and wonderful resource, see the books:

Krol, Ed, The Whole Internet: User's Guide & Catalog,
O'Reilly & Associates, 1992.

Kehoe, Brendan P., Zen and the Art of the Internet: A Beginner's Guide,
2nd ed., Prentice Hall, 1993.

LaQuey, Tracy, with Jeanne C. Ryer, The Internet Companion:
A Beginner's Guide to Global Networking, Addison-Wesley, 1993.

These books are filled with useful information about Unix and the Internet, including how to send electronic mail, how to download free software, and how to access some of the many information services which are available on the Internet.

The World Wide Web (WWW or 'Web' for short) is a system by which text, pictures, audio files and movies can be transmitted across the internet. Old resources you may have heard of -- telnet, news, gopher, ftp -- can all now be regarded as part of the Web.

Many of the 'pages' on the Web are written in a language called HTML. This language allows basic formatting of the text, and images to be included within the text, but also it allows 'links' to other documents which may be local or on the other side of the world. For example, I could say 'I have information about cows' and the word 'cows' would be highlighted somehow (underlined or in a different colour). If you select that word -- typically by clicking your mouse on it or pressing Enter if you have no mouse -- you will be taken to a page about cows which could be another page of mine or of someone in Australia. It does not take much imagination to see how I can then hop all over the world, following these links and reading all manner of information.

In order to access the Web, you need a so called 'client program' or 'browser'. The two most popular are called Mosaic (for graphical terminals) and 'lynx' for text based terminals. If you have got one of these programs, you can start browsing the Web immediately. If not, do what you can to get one!

[The Netscape browser is also now worth a mention. It was only in beta test at the time I originally wrote this, and a bit buggy, but now it's my preferred browser. You can get it via anonymous ftp from in the directory /netscape : it's free for academic and non-profit use. S.T. 30/1/95]

Stephen R. E. Turner


Good places to find local internet providers are listed at the following web sites:

B3. Are there any GUI's (Graphical User Interfaces) for FIBS?


Tinyfugue is a telnet client program which breaks the screen into separate 'panes' for input and output. A specialized version exists where a non scrolling backgammon board is displayed in a third pane. The specialized version is available for anonymous ftp from in the directory /pub/misc/FIBS_client.

The FIBS command "help tinyfugue" will provide some hints on using this program.

Patches made by:

David Eggert
(window routines)

Andreas Schneider
(board printing routines and /board command) /pub/misc/FIBS_client

   Subject: OS/2 Native FIBS-Tinyfugue Client Available now!
   Date: 11 Dec 1994 01:49:27 GMT

   I just uploaded my port of the fibs-tinyfigue client to the incoming
   directories of the hobbes and ftp-os2/cdrom OS/2 sites.  It only works
   via TCP/IP connections (SLIP/TIA are fine!) and requires the
   support, so be sure to get that too.  The included text file tells about
   the port so have a look all OS/2 fibsters!

   Send along any bugs, etc, and I'll see what I can do.

   John J. Lehett
   Land-J Technologies

   [ It has been reported (95-06) That this e-mail address is no longer in use]


xfibs - graphical interface to FIBS (First Internet Backgammon Server)


XFibs is a Motif-based interface to FIBS. FIBS allows you to play backgammon against other people (and an increasing number of computer programs). Unfortu- nately, FIBS is text-based and moves must be typed in numeric notation. XFibs graphical interface provides a mouse-driven board, which minimises text input. Below is an explanation of the various feautures of XFibs, and what you may do to further customize it according to your own desires. At the very end you'll also find the backgammon rules.


XFibs draws two windows, one to display a backgammon board which is fully resizable and scalable; and another for the text information. FIBS is a vibrant and lively place, often with lots of banter going on as well as matches starting and finish- ing. With XFibs you'll only really use the text window occasionally because you can forget all about how the board is numbered, in XFibs you move your pieces with the mouse.

The right button brings forward a popup-menu with several choices like "roll dice", "double" etc., selecting "roll dice" when it's your turn will cause two dice to appear.

The left button allows you to click on a piece and drag it to where you want to put it. You can then release the left button to drop the piece. If the move is valid, XFibs will draw the piece at the new location. (You can now pick-up a piece and move both dice in one action: i.e. 24-13 with 6-5, pick up from 24, drop on 13. The left-hand die is the default first die of a move, the the right-hand die. If the left-hand die can't move, XFibs will try the reverse combination. So If you have a roll in both combinations are legal, but only one hits an opponent, you may need to drag-and-drop to guarantee a hit or a miss).

Alternatively, you can double-click on the middle button over a piece to have XFibs move it (again the left-hand die is the default first die of a move).

If you decide that you didn't want to move a piece, you can take it back (either by drag-and-drop or by popup).

Once you are happy with a move, it has to be sent to FIBS. This is done by clicking your right mouse button again. This popup menu changes according to what is going on. Now it says "accept move", "undo move" etc. Between games in a match it says "join" "leave". Try it out!

If you get a text description of the board in the output window, you have to issue a 'set boardstyle 3' to FIBS. You may then save your setup my typing 'save' or include this command after a 'on_login' command in your startup file. (see below)

All in all, just fool around with it, it isn't that hard to figure out... (At least I hope it isn't)



Torstein Hansen
Minor patches made by David Eggert (Snoopy)
Changes since version 0.7 made by Mike Quinn (mikeq)

Available from: and/or

The source is available from:


MacFIBS greatly enhances the virtual backgammon experience; it's backgammon played "The Macintosh Way".

MacFIBS provides a multi-window, graphical front end to FIBS , vastly superior to the "dumb terminal" telnet scrolling text format that FIBS uses underneath. It also makes excellent use of sound to reinforce the backgammon playing experience.

Rather than viewing backgammon positions as a series of X's and O's in a crude character-based text window, MacFIBS offers a full color backgammon board. Instead of typing cryptic commands like 'm 24 22 15 14', you drag colored checkers around the board, exactly like playing a real game. The user can select from two board sizes and choose which color and direction to play. Real-time pip count information is also displayed.

Other windows include: a Player window to invite, get info, or watch other players, an elegant Chat window for conversing with other players, and a Terminal window for full access to FIBS and telnet. The user can color code and keep private notes about other players (the color coding is also used in the Chat window).

MacFIBS is freeware and is my contribution to the 'net. The program requires a color Macintosh and MacTCP, and is available via ftp at the Info-Mac Archives ( as well as numerous mirror sites around the world.

MacFIBS 2.0* is a self-extracting archive file:

Paul Ferguson

[MacFIBS is also available on AOL, as well as Info-Mac mirror sites.


   From: keithv@chiwaukum.CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Vetter)
   Subject: TkFibs - an X interface to FIBS  available
   Date: 4 Apr 1994 19:31:41 GMT
   Organization: University of California, Berkeley

   Announcing TkFibs, an X based, graphical user interface to Fibs.

   TkFibs is a tcl/tk client that provides a better interface to Fibs. It
   displays two windows: one a graphical depiction of the board, the other
   session window with Fibs ala the bottom two windows in tinyfugue.

   I've been using the program for over 5 months now so it should be very
   solid. I've run it on DecStations, SparcStations, HP 735 and Alphas.

   The biggest caveat is that it requires TCL/TK to run. TCL/TK is a
   very nice scripting / user interface package for X. It is available
   from in /ucb/tcl.

    TkFibs is located at

   Send comments, suggestions, bugs, etc to:

   keith vetter


FIBS/W is a Microsoft Windows(TM) based client for FIBS. FIBS/W provides a graphical game board and mouse-driven interface to the FIBS server. Most operations required to play a game can be executed using mouse, keyboard, menus or toolbar buttons.

Powerful configuration options for many common Internet host systems, and communications service providers, and a built-in communications scripting language allow FIBS/W to automatically dial and connect to FIBS via the Internet with a single mouse click.

To use FIBS/W you must be able to satisfy one of two conditions:

  • You must have modem access to a host computer providing telnet services. If you can connect to the Internet using Windows Terminal, you can probably use FIBS/W.
  • You must have access to the internet via network TCP/IP, PPP or SL/IP via the Winsock software interface. If you can find the file WINSOCK.DLL on your system, you can probably use FIBS/W.
FIBS/W requires version 3.1 or later of Microsoft Windows, or any version of Windows for Workgroups or Windows/NT. FIBS/W will also run as a Windows application under OS/2 2.X. FIBS/W does not currently support OS/2 Warp, or Netcom Netcruiser accounts (although Netcom shell accounts do work).

FIBS/W is provided as Shareware. The registration fee is US$40. This version of FIBS/W includes a Nag Screen (a mildly annoying dialog which is displayed every time the program is run) but is otherwise fully functional.

FIBS/W is available via anonymous FTP at: in the directory /pub/pc/windows/games/fibsw. FIBS/W is available via the web at

A WWW page for FIBS/W is available at

Best regards,

Robin Davies.


   From: (Jesper Blommaskog)

   "xibc" is an X11 client to the First Internet Backgammon Server (FIBS). It
   is using the freeware packages Tcl, Tk and Expect. Normally, you have
   to fetch and compile those to be able to run xibc, but not anymore
   (provided you have a SunSparc!).

   # If you need an executable (Sun-SparcOS 4.1.x only):

   # If you need an executable and don't have a Sparc, then you need
   # to compile Tcl, Tk and Expect on your own. Here's the ftp addresses:

      (all but the patch are present at

   Features of xibc include:

    * Log out from FIBS but keep the interface on the screen (maybe
      iconified). Permits you to start xibc in your X startup files
      and keep it up all time.

    * X resource Tk*xibcLogfile that names a file where to log match
      results. Example from my own file ~/.Xdefaults:

   Tk*xibcLogfile:   ~/spel/backgammon/xibc.log

    * Resource Tk*xibcDelay that sets the programmed delayes in the
      interface (the time interval between the different moves in a
      sequence). Time is in milliseconds. May also be changed during
      a session from a menu (but may not be saved).

      Example: Tk*xibcDelay:   500

    * The command line has some emacs/tcsh-style "cooked" line features:
           C-n next line in history
           C-p previous line in history
           C-a first on line
           C-e last on line
           C-u delete whole line
           C-d delete the character after the insertion marker
   and also
           C-s toggle "autoscroll" mode of the text window
           C-l toggle logging of game to a log file
           C-c log out from server and quit the interface

    * There is a menu option called "Emergency". It may also be invoked
      with "M-e". It reloads the whole board position from the server.
      Nice when the interface screws up (it does sometimes).

    * A menu option "Empty textwindow" will delete all rows in the text
      window in access of 500. May someday become an X resource.

   Don't try to push the interface to hard, that is, don't try to break
   it. You will most definitely succeed (not hard at all, I guess). Since
   I'm sort of an artist, I don't like breaking my own things so I
   haven't really tried to find the bugs.

   Special features (also called known bugs):
    * Try the "look" command.
    * Play a game against "You".
    * Do several things at "the same time".
    * Answer questions like "Accept double" or "join/leave" from the
      command line, not by using the interface.
   If you try them out, remember there's always the "Emergency" command

   -Jesper Blommaskog, author of "xibc"


   [Just a reminder to client writers. Some of us live behind 'firewalls',
    or can only obtain phone access. Please remember us!]

B4. What is LDB? (Long Distance Backgammon. BG by Email)

Long Distance Backgammon. Play backgammon by E-mail.
Program written by Perry R. Ross (

From the ldb man page:

Ldb allows two people to play backgammon over a network using electronic mail. It runs on character-oriented terminals, or emulators thereof, using the curses screen package. It will run on most UNIX dialects, as well as VAX-C under VMS 5.0 and above. Ldb handles all aspects of starting, playing, checking, and scoring games. It enforces all normal game rules, as well as several optional rules, and will not let you make an illegal move. When you have made your moves, ldb will automatically package your move and send them to your opponent.

The latest version is 1.3.2. Version 1.3 can be found in directory volume36. Patches can be found in subsequent volumes at your favorite comp.sources.misc archive site. Patch 1 is in volume 39. Patch 2 is in volume 41. Use: 'unix_prompt$ archie ldb' to locate the sources.

[from Perry]
I mentioned in that patch that, for people who can't figure out how to get ldb or how to apply patches, I'd be happy to send them a complete copy of the latest version. You might want to put the same offer into the faq.

[Has anybody written a PC/Mac version using CC-mail via a Novell network?]

[from Perry...]
Well, I'd always intended to do a PC port, but just never got around to it. I was a bad boy, 32-bit wise, so there would be a little effort involved making it 16-bit clean. There's a package that simulates curses on a PC, I've heard. As far as the particular mail transport, ldb doesn't really care. It puts outgoing messages into a text file and executes a user-defined command to send the message. Incoming mail can be read from a user-defined file (or pattern, to read multiple files), which ought to be pretty transport-independent. It wouldn't be that hard to port, I don't think.

[Anybody have a little ambition?]

The ldb 'game starter' operated by (Leo Gestetner) has been shut down. [ Are there others? ...Mark]

LDB may be obtained on the net from: and

B5. What other ways are there to play people via nets/modems/e-mail?

Netgammon backgammon server

Garrett has shut down Netgammon as of late February 1995. It will be remembered and missed.


RSCARDS Backgammon on GEnie

GEnie (General Electric's Consumer Information Service) offers on-line multi-player games in RSCARDS including backgammon.


  • Graphic User Interface (GUI) is available for the following computers: IBM, Atari ST, Apple IIgs, Macintosh Mono, Macintosh Color, Amiga and Commodore 128 Mono
  • TTY [text only] for non-supported formats.
  • Friendly and fun atmosphere. Peak playing times are evenings and weekends.
  • Regular monthly prizes for eligible, high-score players.
  • Regular tournaments (see below).
  • Game transcripts available immediately.
  • Technical support and gaming discussion available in the Multiplayer Games RoundTable.
  • Access to other on-line multiplayer games including RSCARDS chess, checkers, reversi, poker, blackjack and bridge.
How to Access RSCARDS Backgammon on GEnie:

To sign up to GEnie, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Set your communications software for half duplex (local echo), at 300, 1200, 2400 baud.
  2. Dial toll free: 1-800-638-8369, or in Canada, 1-800-387-8330. Upon connection, enter HHH
  3. At the U# prompt, enter JOINGENIE then press <RETURN>
  4. When asked to enter a code enter: MMC524 [This will waive your first $8.95 month subscription fee and give you an additional $50.00 online credit during your first month on GEnie!]
  5. Have a major credit card ready. In the U.S. you may also use your checking account number.
For additional information including subscriptions and fees call: 1-800-638-9636

Once you have a GEnie account, simply type RSCARDS from any GEnie prompt. This will take you to the main area, where you can download GUI's and get general information on RSCARDS.
You can reach the Backgammon page directly by typing M877. This will bring you to a menu with specific backgammon information and access to play.
For questions and technical support, visit the Multiplayer Games RoundTable. Type M1045 from any GEnie prompt and set to CATegory 29. There are a variety of Backgammon, GUI and RSCARDS TOPics available.


GEnie Backgammon Tourneys are held quarterly. Sign-ups start:
January 1st, April 1st, July 1st and October 1st

Tourney play starts the third Wednesday of those months

[Section on tourney rules is available online at GEnie]
[Note: GEnie is a service like compuserve... They have a monthly fee and you pay by the hour for use. Contact GEnie for rates.]


Backgammon is among a package of eight Macintosh only internet games offerred for a flat monthly fee ($9.95) by the on-line service Outland, Inc. The games are advertised and offerred for ftp and free trial at Judging from the web page it appears to share many features with FIBS plus providing a nice built-in graphical (draggable pieces) interface.


Play By E-Mail

While not quite in thte same league as FIBS, I have a PBeM Server that supports Backgammon as one of its' games. Send mail to: with 'help' as the Subject: line for details, or visit Richards page at:


This appears to be a backgammon server that allows players with the hotjava browser to play other players. The server has been created by Lee Smith. JavaGammon Info on Java extensions, programs, etc...

B6. Are there any electronic tournaments?

There are tournaments on FIBS and GEnie.

Tournaments on FIBS have been organized by David Escoffery (davide), and David Eggert (snoopy).



GEnie has a quarterly single elimination tournament. $25 entry fee. Cash and credit prizes for first-fourth place. Hourly fee in effect while you play. The draw is non random, in that previous winners are placed such that they do not play each other in the first several rounds.

B7. Do other game servers exist?


There are no backgammon servers other than FIBS in operation on the internet at present.


Get 'OK.FAQ' from or for info on the Internet bridge server.

   Reported servers:

           telnet 4321
              login: okbridge  password: okbridge

              login: bridge    pasword: bridge.0

   [The above servers have been reported to have an annual fee.]


   [Free guest trials are availble for the above server.]

   A further source of information is available at:


       telnet 7777                or

Chinese Chess (Xianqi)

      USA:     telnet 5555       or 5555
      Sweden:  telnet 5555  or  5555
      Taiwan:  telnet 5555
A Xianqi Web page may be read at:


   Othello(tm)/Reversi: telnet 5000

Chess 5000 5000 5000 5000 5000    5000

   It has been reported that the chess servers now charge an anual fee.

Go 6969 6969


   It has been mentioned that it is possible to play chinese chess on this


Information about the checker playing program ``Chinook'' may be obtained by visiting the web page:

Besides information, the Chinook page lets you play a game on-line against the computer program which has beaten the human world champion.

Other Games Servers and Web Pages
    YAHOO WWW Games Directory
    Games and Puzzles on the Internet

     A list of game servers
     A list of game servers.


Commercial backgammon playing programs

C1. Are there any BG programs out there for my computer? Where are they?


Ever since Gerry Tesauro finished TD-Gammon, it was only a matter of time before a neural network program would become available to the public. That time has come. Fredrik Dahl's masterpiece, Jellyfish, is a breakthrough for backgammon. Both the checker play and cube action of the program are at an expert level, making Jellyfish a truly enjoyable and challenging competitor. In addition the program looks over your plays and points out when you have made a serious error, making it extremely valuable for learning purposes.

Jellyfish is run under Windows for the PC. Moves are made with the mouse, and can be done very quickly and efficiently. The display is nice and easy to see. Some additional features of the program:

Plays both single games and matches (yes, it understands match equities). Allows the user to construct positions and save them. Gives the user the program's evaluation of the equity of a position upon request, and the evaluation function is surprisingly accurate. Tells the user when he has made an error in checker play or cube decision, making the program the most valuable tutor in the world.

In addition, a separate version is expected which will also permit the user to roll out positions. In the past computer rollouts were always suspect because the program didn't play well enough so the results could be very distorted. This is no longer the case, since Jellyfish definitely plays well enough to handle almost any position adequately. Results from its rollouts can be trusted, and we will be able to find the answers to many backgammon questions which we previously did not know.

For the casual player, Jellyfish provides an excellent opponent and a way to improve while playing. For the serious student of the game, this program is an absolute must. Our knowledge of the game is about to take a quantum leap, and the player who does not have access to Jellyfish will be left far behind.

Kit Woolsey

JellyFish Tutor 1.2 for MS-Windows. US$ 110.
JellyFish Analyzer 1.0 for MS-Windows US$ 220.
The Analyzer, will in addition to the Tutor, contain a rollout module It will be release Jan 16 1995. If you own the Tutor, the Analyzer may be purchased for the difference in price. If you order the Analyzer before Jan 16 1995, the Tutor will be shipped immediately, followed by the Analyzer when ready.
Order from:
EFFECT Software A/S
P.O. Box 56 Skoyen
N-0212 OSLO
Please use International Postal Money Order, or Visa. If you use Visa, send the account number, date of expiration, amount and signature. You may also send a check, but in that case please add $10 for expenses.

Hardware requirements: 386sx or better
Software requirements: Windows 3.1
The JellyFish programs come on 3.5'' diskettes.

Also available from: The GAMMON PRESS , Carol Joy Cole and The Dansk Backgammon Forlag.

The program, and technical support are also available from Larry Strommen within the USA. Contact:

L. A. Strommen; 6866 Meadow View Dr.; Indianapolis, IN 46226
Tel: (317) 545-0224 E-mail:
Fredrik Dahl may be contacted at

It should be noted that JellyFish uses a copy protection scheme. The program requires that you ``confirm'' your installation once a month, at the first of the month, by inserting the original disk. There are no limits to how many machines you may install the program on. The DOS rollout module is not protected at all, although the rollout files must be created using JellyFish.


From Sat Sep 16 20:40:09 PDT 1995
Article: 9552 of
From: (William C. Bitting)
Subject: TD-Gammon & IBM Family FunPak
Date: 14 Sep 1995 22:41:22 -0700

Excerpted from:
OS/2 Warp Monthly Newsletter September 95 (starting at p86
of 176, ascii version)

by Jeri Dube

(This section is out of sequence as presented in original article.)

Although playing backgammon on a computer that plays as well as a world class master seems somewhat awe-inspiring, you can work up to it. The game comes with five skill settings, where each higher setting uses an increasing larger and more complex neural network as its underlying engine. If you want to use TD-Gammon to improve your backgammon skills, it is quite good as a learning device. Not only do you get feedback from the results of your playing but the system is quite supportive of you. It gives a modest, `I win' message when you lose and a hearty `Congratulations, you win!', when the computer loses.

To embody this expert backgammon-playing neural network into an OS/2 game, IBM Research hired Keith Weiner, a professional PC game developer, to add a front end written for OS/2's presentation manager. TD-Gammon is fully 32-bit and takes full advantage of OS/2 Warp's multi-threading capabilities. Like all presentation manager programs, TD- Gammon comes with a settings notebook where you can set things such as the background color and the animation speed.

Given the success of the TD-Gammon game, I asked Gerry what his next neural network game would be. He told me that researchers have used other games such as Chess, Othello, and Go with varying degrees of success to study neural network learning. None have been as successful as backgammon. Gerry theorizes that the stochastic element of backgammon (i.e. throwing the dice) is what makes backgammon so useful in modeling the self-learning process. With that in mind, Gerry's next venture into self-learning is with financial time series analysis. If that project is as successful at learning as the backgammon game, then I'm really looking forward to that program.

For more information on Gerry's work, you may want to read his article ``Temporal Difference Learning and TD-Gammon'' published in Communications of the ACM, volume 38, number 3, pp. 58-68 (March 1995).

(The newsletter article starts here and ends with the above 4 paragraphs.)

When most people think of IBM Research, they tend to think of fractals, scanning- tunneling-electron microscopes, or high temperature superconductivity. Games are not usually one of the thoughts that come to mind. However, the TD- Gammon game included in the IBM Family FunPak for OS/2 Warp was developed by IBM Research.

By virtue of being created at such an auspicious place, you would think that this version of backgammon is quite special. Well, to be quite honest and not so humble, it is! TD-Gammon is the most advanced computer version of backgammon. It can play at the most advanced levels. If the system were a human, it would be rated as a World Class Master.

TD-Gammon was developed by IBM Research Staff Member, Gerry Tesauro. Gerry is not a game developer, rather he is a theoretical physicist who has been working in the area of neural networks and artificial intelligence for several years. He did not initially intend to develop an OS/2 game for the Family FunPak. All he wanted to develop was a basic research project to study learning algorithms that would enable a computer to teach itself a task.

Gerry chose backgammon as the task because it appeared to be a good domain in which a neural network might work well. At this point you may be wondering now that I've mentioned it twice, what is a neural network? Well, in short, it's a model of interconnected neurons (also known as nodes) that was inspired by the logical neurons in the human nervous system. Each connection between neurons has a particular weight value associated with it.

In the case of backgammon, the state of the backgammon board is fed into input neurons that have connections to hidden neurons (or units). These hidden neurons in turn connect to an output layer that holds the value of the state (that is, the chances of winning from that particular state). The computation between the input neurons and the hidden neurons is a weighted linear summation of all the input neurons. The result of the summation is put through a thresholding function. This function compresses the value to lie within a certain range of probabilities. (In case it ever comes up in conversation, the function is known as a squashing function.) The squashing function is a non- linear function. The non-linearity allows a system to learn more complex functions.

To use this model to teach a system backgammon, all the initial weights between the neurons are randomly set. The neural network starts from the opening backgammon position and plays both sides until one of the sides wins. The outcome of the game is used as a reward signal for reinforcement learning. That is, the neural network takes the outcome of the game and adjusts the weights accordingly. The adjustments improve the network's ability to evaluate board states for subsequent plays of the game.

This learning process is repeated hundreds and thousands of times. Using an RS/6000 computer, the learning actually took about two weeks. Gerry and his colleagues were amazed at how well the neural network learned to play backgammon. The system kept getting better and better until it reached the world class master status. Actually, the neural network could improve its play even more with further training and a larger network.

TD-Gammon is available on the new IBM Family FunPak for OS/2. The FunPak may be purchased from Indulable Blue [add url] or from a number of other mail order software houses.

From: (Jim Little)
Subject: TD-Gammon available for free download
Date: 9 Nov 1995 23:52:45 -0800

IBM has made TD-Gammon, their supposedly groundbreaking neural network- based version of Backgammon, available for free download. It seems to be part of an attempt to promote their IBM Family FunPack. You can get it by surfing to and following the "Read the license information" link. You will have to fill out a form with your name, address, etc. (But nothing forces you to enter valid information. ;) )

From their web page: "TD Gammon requires OS/2 2.1 or higher, an Intel 386-SX or higher, with Advanced and Expert levels requiring a 486-DX 33MHz or higher, and a minimum of 6 meg of memory is recommended."

-Jim Little (

[md] The original article is available at:

   From: (Gerry Tesauro)
   Subject: TD-Gammon paper available by FTP
   Sender: Gerald Tesauro (
   Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1993 18:06:35 GMT
   Disclaimer: This posting represents the poster's views, not necessarily
               those of IBM.

The following paper, which has been accepted for publication in Neural Computation, has been placed in the neuroprose archive at Ohio State. Instructions for retrieving the paper by anonymous ftp are appended below.

      TD-Gammon, A Self-Teaching Backgammon Program,
             Achieves Master-Level Play

                 Gerald Tesauro
        IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center
                  P. O. Box 704
            Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
TD-Gammon is a neural network that is able to teach itself to play backgammon solely by playing against itself and learning from the results, based on the TD(lambda) reinforcement learning algorithm (Sutton, 1988). Despite starting from random initial weights (and hence random initial strategy), TD-Gammon achieves a surprisingly strong level of play. With zero knowledge built in at the start of learning (i.e. given only a ``raw'' description of the board state), the network learns to play at a strong intermediate level. Furthermore, when a set of hand-crafted features is added to the network's input representation, the result is a truly staggering level of performance: the latest version of TD-Gammon is now estimated to play at a strong master level that is extremely close to the world's best human players.


        unix% ftp (or
        Name: anonymous
        Password: (use your e-mail address)
        ftp> cd pub/neuroprose
        ftp> binary
        ftp> get
        ftp> bye
        unix% uncompress
        unix% lpr

For a list of articles written by Gerry Tesauro, check out: A List of Backgammon Articles in Science and Business

Expert Backgammon

Expert Backgammon 2.1 for PC: List of features.

Mark Damish E-Mail:

Here is some initial information on Expert Backgammon version 2.1 for the IBM PC.

I remember November 92, the first time I walked into a backgammon club to participate in a tourney. After playing on FIBS for a month, I thought that I was already a decent player. Wrong. I won a match, and lost a match. Afterwards, I played a few games for $1/point. I reached a simple and common holding game position where I was doubled, and thought surely it was worth 25%, and took. My opponent, being helpful to a newcomer, pointed out that the position was only worth about 15%. Later, I was able to verify his claim using Expert Backgammon, and had my first 'benchmark' position. I have since used Expert Backgammon to benchmark many other simple positions, as well as to play hundreds of games against it.

What it is:
Expert Backgammon, (EXBG), is a program which allows you to play backgammon against the computer either in a `money' or `tournament' format. It also allows you enter a position, and let the computer `roll it out' --- that is, to let it play both sides many times, and show you the results. Expert Backgammon is currently one of the stronger computer program available commercially, and the game version is quite affordable!

Brief Description of EXBG versions:
Expert Backgammon is currently available in two releases: 1.61, and 2.1. Release 2.1 has 3 different versions, with different features
      EXBG 2.1  GAME VERSION    $50.  Plays the game of backgammon.
      EXBG 2.1  EXPERT VERSION $150.  Plays BG, and Rolls out positions.
      EXBG 2.1  PRO VERSION    $300.  Plays BG, and Rolls out positions. Has
                                      some advanced rollout features.

      EXBG 1.61 EXPERT VERSION $100   Plays BG, and Rolls out positions.

      Upgrades from EXBG 1.61[expert] to EXBG 2.1[expert]  $60
      Upgrades from EXBG 1.61[expert] to EXBG 2.1[pro]    $200
      There are other upgrades available for the other versions as well.
Some Random Features (pro version):
  • Fast non mouse interface for moving the checkers.
  • Match or Money play options.
  • Optional Jacoby rule.
  • Cube profile statistics.
  • Save positions for future evaluation.
  • Save games to be played back later.
  • Computer can suggest a move.
  • Shot counter.
  • Computer can finish game, when it becomes routine.
  • Woolsey or 35% (Friedman?) match equity table for matches.
  • Pip count.
  • Quick or Extended cube searches. Speed vs. accuracy.
  • Rollouts:
    • Random dice.
    • Sequenced dice for one or two sides. That is all 36 possible starting combinations for one or two sides.
    • Rollout multiple positions simultaneously in batch mode.
    • Duplicate dice when rolling out multiple positions.

Less than 5 seconds per game to play a game from the starting position on a 486DX2-66 processer. This assumes that the graphical display is disabled. ie: moves and rolls are not shown.

Seems stronger than 1.61.

Strength is also a somewhat controversial subject. Can the machine play a complex prop as well as a human who is familiar with the position? Does the machine have any 'blind spots' in early game play? Can it 'work a prime' to get a second checker when needed? Does it blitz too often, not enough? 'Seems stronger' is as far as I'll venture until I learn more about how to play the game myself! See the section on How good is good? for Bill Roberties ratings of backgammon programs.

Copy Protection:
The program is copy protected. The distribution disks will allow you to install the program to two hard disks, as well as allowing you to run the program from the floppy. You may 'uninstall' the program from the hard disk, back to the floppy for installation on another disk/machine if required. It is best to uninstall the program before using backup programs, or reformatting your hard disk/partition, as you can loose your installation.
Early versions of 1.61 used a differant scheme. They simply stopped running after a certain date. The authur supplies free updates to those with the early protection scheme.

Sample Cube Analysis Screen:

                   B L A C K   C U B I N G   A N A L Y S I S

      C  U  B  E    Game won by - lost by    Gammons    Backgammons  Equity
   location  size   cube  play  cube play  won   lost  won    lost   /Game

     Center    1    47     3    22    8     4     9     0      0      0.108
     Black     2     8     0     0   11     0     0     0      1     -0.600
     Red       2     0    21     2    2     4     0     2      0      2.000
     Black     4     1     0     0    1     0     0     0      0      0.000
     Red       4     0     1     1    0     0     0     0      0      0.000
     Black     8     0     0     0    1     0     0     0      0     -8.000

                   01-21-1994  The Jacoby Rule was NOT USED
                   Only Money Play with Extended Cube Search
                   MARK won 61.074% of the games played

              Equity for MARK = 0.349 per game for 149  games
              Cubeless equity for MARK = 0.228

              Net equity when Black took a 2 cube = -0.870 per game
              Net equity when Red took a 2 cube  =  1.879 per game

      [An above average performance in this set.]

Help Screen:
           F1 = MENU OF AVAILABLE OPTIONS - Professional Edition
   A - Automatic Double                  Ctrl+A - Automatic Concession
   B - Beaver                            Ctrl+B - Clear Board
   C - Checker Setup                     Ctrl+C - Cube Setup
   D - Double the Cube                   Ctrl+D - Manual Dice Entry
   E - Extended Cube Search              Ctrl+E - Match Equity
   F - New Player Name                   Ctrl+F - File - Alternate Path
   G - Game - Money or Match Play        Ctrl+G - Delete Game
   H - On-Line Help Service              Ctrl+H - Using Option Defaults
   I - Invert Position                   Ctrl+I - Alter the Starting Position
   J - Jacoby Rule                       Ctrl+J - Title for Rollout
   K - Monitor Type                      Ctrl+K - Player Cube Profile
   L - Level of Difficulty               Ctrl+L - Listing of Game
   M - Take Back Move
   N - Sound                             Ctrl+N - Start New Game
   O - Options Currently Selected        Ctrl+O - Open Position
   P - Player on Roll                    Ctrl+P - Print Position
   Q - Show PiP Count                    Ctrl+Q - Black Shotcounter
   R - Replay Game                       Ctrl+R - Rollout Position
   S - Speed of Checker Movement         Ctrl+S - Save Position
   T - Suggest Move for Black            Ctrl+T - Match Win % Table
   U - Skip Save Game/Position           Ctrl+U - Delete Position
   V - Black Detailed Shotcounter
   W - Expert to Finish the Game         Ctrl+W - Write Rollout to Disk
   X - Cancel Move and Reroll Dice       Ctrl+X - Print Disk Rollout
   Z - Zero the Score
   Spacebar - Roll the Dice              Escape - Leave EXBG
Rollout summary printout:

    Date: 12-12-1993                              Games viewed = 0
    File: 65_21_A                                 Summary only = 1296
    Version: 2.1                                  1296 games rolled out at
    Used Hrs:Min:Sec 1:37:41                      4.522 seconds per game.
                    Batched Duplicate Rollout of 1296  games.
                    No doubling allowed - Cube at 1 level

    [ Diagram of board position was cut from here...]

               O on roll.

                 O won
      45.83%     games        594
      11.42%    gammons       148
       0.46%  backgammons       6
      57.72% of the games     748
      +0.170 points per game.

                 X won
      32.18%     games        417
       9.41%    gammons       122
       0.69%  backgammons       9
      42.28% of the games.    548
      -0.170 points per game.

     The dice rolls were generated randomly.

     Note: There is also a screen which shows the results of several games
           rolled out simultaniously.

     Note: Above screens were 'captured' by redirecting my printer port to
           a file, and have been edited slightly.

Ordering Info:
Tom Weaver
Expert Backgammon
8063 Meadow Road, # 108
Dallas, Texas

Call: Expert Backgammon (214) 692-1234 M-F 10am-10pm Central US time. An answering service answers when Tom isn't around.

Tom also has an email address:

Also available from Carol Joy Cole and The GAMMON PRESS.

A Macintosh version of Expert Backgammon is also available. Contact the sources above, or Tom Johnson (auther) directly A demo of the Macintosh version is available for anonymous ftp from:

Shareware and Public Domain backgammon playing programs


A backgammon program for MS-DOS

"I believe Blot makes primarily other mistakes than the backgammon programs I know. Due to the selective (rather speculative) style definitely Blot is tactically the weakest program of all (with outrageous blunders in the endgame), but positionally not as flawed as many computer opponents."

Blot has good results against many backgammon progs (see blot.doc).

If you have any comments on blot, the authors are glad to receive mail from you. In case you don't want to bother with sending (real) mail, you can E-mail me, I'll forward your comments to the authors.

The programm is still being developed, so be prepaired to get new blot versions soon :-).

I hope you enjoy the programm!

Alexander Fuchs

available from:

Backgammon, By George!

Backgammon, by George! Version 1.50 has been available since June 1995. This shareware ($15) program is suitable for Windows 3.x and Windows 95 and may be downloaded from the WINFUN forum in CompuServe and other places on the net. If you can't find it contact the author:

George Sutty P.O.Box 6247
Huntinton Beach, CA 92615


Backgammon for Windows version 0.6

A fairly weak backgammon program for windows, originally introduced in 1990.

bg06 is available for anonymous ftp from in the directory /pub/win3/games/

A PD mac program called ?

There is a backgammon game for the Macintosh by Stephen Young, Debra Willrett, and David Young. The 1.0 version is fairly widespread, although there is a 2.0 version (dated May 25, 1989) available on America Online. The play is pretty weak, and the graphics are designed for the original small B&W Mac screen, but if you're really bored and can't find a human opponent, it works. The game is freeware, and you get what you pay for.

-- Paul Ferguson

Death by Backgammon

For those interested in a good bg game for Windows, why not try Death By Backgammon for Windows. It runs under Windows 3.1 or OS2/2.1, and features animated dice/game pieces, comprehensive help, move undo, suggest move, speed control over all motion, and is fully resizeable. Best of all, its strategy is very competitive (I wrote the thing, and have a roughly 50:50 average against it over many hundreds of games). If you are interested, I would be happy to send out a shareware version for evaluation. The shareware version is fully functional, except that the computer's moves are painfully slow. There is also a DOS version, which is a bit older, but still features animation and VGA graphics.

To get hold of the program there are two options:

  1. To get the shareware version, (free of charge) let me know and I can email you a zipped uuencoded version of the shareware. Alternatively, I can send you a floppy if you provide your mailing address.
  2. To get a registered copy of the program, send a cheque made out to Chris Kanaris, and I will email or post as above.
     Prices: Shareware - Nil
             Registered: WIN $AS 35.00, $US 30.00.
		         DOS $AS 20.00, $US1 5.00.
     My Postal address is: Chris Kanaris
                           PO Box 495
                           Victoria, 3040

[ People who have tried the shareware version claim that the program plays a pretty weak game. Hopefully computer bg game writers will continue to make their games stronger and stronger. Not and easy task! ]


   From: at SMTP-Post-Office
   Subject: contribution to FAQ

   xgammon is a BG-playing programm originally written for Linux.
   The authors are Lambert Klasen ( and
   Detlef Steuer (, blotstorm on FIBS)

   xgammon is Freeware under the Gnu Copyright.
   xgammon has nice graphical interface, you move by clicking on mousebuttons.
   You can do a maildump for a position, that means you get a file with
   a FIBS  style board with current position in it.
   You can do money game or tournament game.
   You can edit positions via mouse on the board or via ascii plain text files.
   You can turn doubling on and off.
   You can do rollouts with doubling turned on and off.
   The programm uses an endgame database for perfect bearing off (and for
   reasonable running game).
   There is an compi_finish for shorten the boring part of the game.
   and and and ....
   You can have fun with xgammon.
   Give xgammon a chance getting compiled on your machine.
   We'd like any reactions, especially porting reports to OS different
   from Linux.
   (heard of AIX and Sun OS compiling), especially bug reports .
   Send a mail if you use it, please!

   You find the latest Version of xgammon, at the time xgammon.0.96.tar.gz,
   at ftp /pub/Linux/X11/games/strategy/xgammon.0.96.tar.gz.

   Detlef Steuer

   (blotstorm on FIBS)


Other programs that can be found around the net include:,, and Check DOS related ftp sites for locations.

C2. Which programs are good? How good is good?

     Program Name        Source      Type        Score
     -----------------   ------      ------      ------
     TD-GAMMON 2.1       N/A         N/A          -0.05
     TD-GAMMON           IBM         OS/2
     JellyFish 1.0       Dahl        IBM-PC/Win   -0.15
     Expert BG 2.1       Weaver      IBM-PC       -0.20
     Expert BG 1.61      Weaver      IBM-PC       -0.35
     Championship BG     Spinnaker   IBM-PC       -0.66
     Expert BG           Komodo      Macintosh    -0.82
     Sensory BG 2        Scitek      Portable     -0.94
     Backgammon          Odesta      IBM-PC       -1.20
     BG by George        GS Labs     IBM-PC/Win   -1.52
     Video Gammon        Baudville   IBM-PC       -1.61
     PC-Gammon           Repsted     IBM-PC       -3.67
     Gammon              Gakken      Portable    -12.40
     Windows BG          Baudville   IBM-PC/Win  -13.83
     Gammon Pal          Fidelity    Portable    -15.63
     Micro BG            Fidelity    Portable    -15.53
     Games People Play   Toolworks   IBM-PC      -26.60

   [ From the 1994 The GAMMON PRESS catalog.
     and program reviews in Inside Backgammon.]

Score is the number of points won per game, on average, against a top flight human player. Very large numbers are caused by bad doubling algorithms which cause a program to double when behind (typically when primed but ahead in the race), causing the computer to lose some very large cubes.

C3. Why is it so hard to write a good backgammon program?

There are two basic ways that a computer can play a game as well as or better than humans. One is to be really smart, the other is to do an awful lot of work. The general strategy most game-playing programs use is to use an evaluation function that isn't very smart, but to make up for it by looking ahead a lot of moves (doing a lot of work).

With chess, there are typically 20-30 moves by each player per turn. With backgammon, there are 21 unique rolls and often 4-6 ways to play each one (not counting doubles with could have 10 or more ways of playing). This makes it very difficult to look ahead very many levels. Looking ahead 3 moves by both players examining all possibilities when there are 25 choices at each play requires evaluating "only" 244 million positions. If there are 90 ways to play each move, there are 530,000 million, positions.

With a game like chess, one can discard all but the best 5 or 10 plays per person. With backgammon, there are always 21 different choices of best plays, depending on the dice. This makes it crucial to have an excellent evaluation function.

The difficulty in doing this is that factors such as the race have a different effect on the value of the position depending on what stage the game is in. Consider the concept of timing -- hard enough for people to grasp, extremely difficult for computers.

Another example of the difficulty of evaluating plays: It's almost always beneficial to close out your opponents checkers. But if you've hit one checker and you almost have to hit a second to be able to win, closing out your opponent is very bad.

-michael j zehr

Further information relating to machine learning in games may be found at:

C4. Backgammon support software and software reviews.

Commercial Software

[NOTE: Programs that play backgammon are in the section: Are there any BG programs out there for my computer? Where are they? " ie: JellyFish & Expert Backgammon.]


Boinq is a program which analyzes bearoffs. It can handle any position where both sides have all their men in the inner board. All results are cubeless. For any position you enter, you can get the probabality of each side winning, equity on a 1-cube, proper way to play any roll of the dice, and a distribution of probabality of bearing off in any number of rolls. The results are displayed virtually instantaneously, since they are read directly from a data file rather than done by simulation. Very user friendly and easy to use -- I use it a lot for a quick check on bearoff problems. Program takes about 4 meg, so have some room on your hard disk. Produced by Hal Heinrich -- cost is $100 I think. Can contact Hal at:

Hal Heinrich
#203, 215 14th Ave. SW
Calgary, AB
Canada T2R 0M2

Phone: (403) 234-9944
E-mail address:


[Note: Also available from Carol Joy Cole]
[Note: As far as I know, this is a PC program ...Mark]


Hyper-Backgammon is a short version of backgammon where each side has three checkers. In initial position, these checkers start on opponent's ace, two and three points. From then on normal backgammon rules apply. Cube is in play, Jacoby rule, gammons and backgammons count (and are quite frequent). Proper play is much more subtle than might be imagined. The program produced by Hugh Sconyers plays the game perfectly, since Hugh has established a full data base which has the equities for all possible positions, and the program will tell you if you make an error. It can be a lot of fun to play, the games go quickly, and by playing the program you learn pretty quickly the correct strategies.


[Note: Also available from Carol Joy Cole and The GAMMON PRESS] [Note: The distribution is a CD-ROM for the PC ...Mark]

Hugh Sconyers Bearoff & Backgame CDs

Volume 1: Bearoff Equities and Backgame Probabilities


This CD-ROM disk contains two large databases of equities and probabilities. One database has the exact equities for all bearoff positions when each side has 9 men or less. The other database contains the probabilities for getting hit or hitting a man when one side has a backgame of 4 men or less.

The bearoff database is over 400 MB and contains the answers to over 100,000,000 bearoff problems! In addition, you can do a MONTE CARLO simulation on any bearoff position with more than 9 men on a side. The program also has a feature which finds the best move given a specific position and dice roll.

The backgame database is 90 MB and contains the answers to over 22,000,000 backgame positions (some of them are not legal positions). There is a feature which finds the best move given a dice roll and position.

These databases will help settle many questions about fair settlement and the best moves.


Once the program has been loaded you can enter any bearoff position, assuming that all men are in their home board. If both positions you enter have 9 men or less, the program will give you the EXACT equities for all 4 cube positions - NO CUBE, ROLLER'S CUBE, CENTER CUBE, AND NON ROLLER'S CUBE. In addition, it will display the proper cube decision. These cube equities, as throughout this bearoff program, are the equities if you roll with the cube in that position.

To compute the proper settlement in any bearoff position(assuming you are going to roll with the cube in that position) you would multiply the equity times the value of the cube.

After the equities are displayed, you are given a chance to find the best move for the position you have just entered. Keep in mind your best move in the bearoff is the one that leaves your opponent with the smallest equity. The best move will often be different depending on the cube position.

If you enter a bearoff position where one or both side have more than 9 men you will enter the MONTE CARLO subroutine. You will first be asked how many simulations you want to run. There is a limit of 30,000. This Monte Carlo subroutine rolls the dice and moves the men until each side has 9 men or less. Then it looks up the exact answers from the database. With a few hundred simulations the NO CUBE result should be very close to exact. The other cube positions results will be distorted by the fact that this subroutine assumes that there is no doubling until the positions are back in the database (ie each side has 9 men or less). For example, if you have 12 men and the cube is in the center and your opponent has 12 men, the cube will stay in the center until each side has 9 men or less. At that point, the subroutine will retrieve the exact equity from the database.


Once the program has finished loading you can enter any backgame position provided the position not bearing off has 4 men or less. The side bearing off can have from 1 to 15 men. The program will return two probabilities: one for each side being on roll. These results are the probabilities that the side bearing off will have a man hit.

After the probabilities are displayed, you are given a chance to find the best move for the position you have just entered. Keep in mind that the best move for the position bearing off is the one that leaves the other side with the smallest probability of hitting a man. The best move for the side in the backgame is the one that gives it the highest probability of hitting a man.

This program assumes that the side playing the backgame has infinite timing; ie, he will never be forced to leave his opponent's home board. It follows from this assumption that the backgame side can take some, part or none of any roll.

Sony's MMCD Player:

This disc works on an MMCD player also. Sony makes this very small CD-ROM player which takes special exe files. This disc works both for dos and MMCD. The MMCD version is the same as the PC version except in a few places. To start the program place the disc in the MMCD player and turn the power on. If you plan to use the bestmove feature and the MONTE CARLO routine you will need to put the Volume #1 disc in the player after the program loads. The MONTE CARLO simulations are limited to 20,000 games.

Volume 2: Bearoff Equities for 4 Points and 15 Men


This CD-ROM disk contains two databases of equities for the bearoff. The first database(4X15) has the exact equities for all bearoff positions when each side has 15 men or less on the first 4 points. The second database(3X15) contains the exact equities for all bearoff positions when each side has 15 men on the first 3 points. The second database is a subset of the first. The smaller database(3X15) is included for a number of reasons, which will be explained later. Everything that follows applies to the 3X15 database when the 4's are change to 3's etc.

The bearoff database for 4 points and 15 men is over 240 MB and contains the answers to over 60,000,000 bearoff problems! In addition, you can do a MONTE CARLO simulation for any bearoff position where one or both sides have men on the 5 or 6 points(4,5 or 6 in the case of the 3X15 database). The program also has a feature which finds the best move given a specific position and dice roll.

These databases can help settle many questions about fair settlement and the best moves.


Once the program has loaded you can enter any bearoff position, assuming that all men are in their home board. If both positions you enter have all their men on the first 4 points, the program will give you the EXACT equities for all 4 cube positions - NO CUBE, ROLLER'S CUBE, CENTER CUBE, and NON ROLLER'S CUBE. In addition, it will display the proper cube decision and probability for winning in the no cube case. These cube equities, as throughout this bearoff program, are the equities if you roll with the cube in that position. If you find an equity greater than 1.000 or less than -1.000 this is due to the fact that a position with 15 men can still lose a gammon.

To compute the proper settlement in any bearoff position(assuming you are going to roll with the cube in that position) you would multiply the equity times the value of the cube.

After the equities are displayed, you have an opportunity to find the best move for the position you have just entered. Keep in mind your best move in the bearoff is the one that leaves your opponent with the smallest equity. The best move will often be different depending on the cube position.

If you enter a bearoff position where one or both side have men on the 5 or 6 points you will automatically enter the MONTE CARLO subroutine. You will first be asked how many simulations you want to run. There is a limit of 30,000. This Monte Carlo subroutine rolls the dice and moves the men until each side has all men on the first 4 points. Then it looks up the exact answers from the database. With a few hundred simulations the NO CUBE result should be very close to exact. The other cube positions results will be distorted by the fact that this subroutine assumes that there is no doubling until the positions are back in the database (ie each side has all men on the first 4 points). For example, if you have 12 men on the one and 3 men on the 5 point versus the same, the cube stays in the current position until both sides have all their men on the first four points. At that point, the subroutine will retrieve the exact equity from the database.


There are several reasons that this database is included. First, it is small(only 10 MB!). This will allow it, if you desire, to be copied to your hard disk(be sure to copy BEQT4X15.EXE, helvb.fon and tmsrb.fon). Secondly, the 3X15 database has an advantage in speed when doing MONTE CARLO simulations. Simulations will run faster at the expense of some accuracy. If you have copied the 3X15 database to your hard disk it will run MONTE CARLO simulations substantially faster.

Volume 3: Bearoff Equities for 6 Points and 10 Men


This CD-ROM disk contains a database of equities for the bearoff. The database has the exact equities for all bearoff positions where one side has 10 men in the home board and the other side has 10 men or less in the home board.

The bearoff database for 6 points and 10 men is over 625 MB and contains the answers to over 156,000,000 bearoff problems! In addition, you can do a MONTE CARLO simulation for any bearoff position where one or both sides have more than 10 men. The results of these simulations will be more accurate than the results from Volume #1. The program also has a feature which finds the best move given a specific position and dice roll. You will need Volume #1 to use the MONTE CARLO feature and you may need Volume #1 for the best move feature.

These databases can help settle many questions about fair settlement and the best moves.


Once the program has loaded you can enter any bearoff position, assuming that all men are in their home board. If you enter a position where both positions have 9 men or less you will get an error message because all these positions are on Volume #1. For positions where one side has 10 men and the other side has 10 men or less, the program will give you the EXACT equities for all 4 cube positions - NO CUBE, ROLLER'S CUBE, CENTER CUBE, and NON ROLLER'S CUBE. In addition, it will display the proper cube decision and probability for winning in the no cube case. These cube equities, as throughout this bearoff program, are the equities if you roll with the cube in that position.

To compute the proper settlement in any bearoff position (assuming you are going to roll with the cube in that position) you would multiply the equity times the value of the cube.

After the equities are displayed, you have an opportunity to find the best move for the position you have just entered. Keep in mind your best move in the bearoff is the one that leaves your opponent with the smallest equity. The best move will often be different depending on the cube position. For some positions you will need Volume #1.

If you enter a bearoff position where one or both sides have more than 10 men you will automatically enter the MONTE CARLO subroutine. You will need Volume #1 to use this subroutine. You will first be asked how many simulations you want to run. There is a limit of 30,000. This Monte Carlo subroutine rolls the dice and moves the men until both sides have 10 men on less. Then it looks up the exact answers from the database. With a few hundred simulations the NO CUBE result should be very close to exact. The other cube positions results will be distorted by the fact that this subroutine assumes that there is no doubling until the positions are back in the database (ie each side has all men on the first 4 points). For example, if you have 12 men on the six point and 3 men on the 5 point versus the same, the cube stays in the current position until both sides have 10 men or less. At that point, the subroutine stores that position and later retrieves the exact equity from the database on Volume #3 or Volume #1.

Sony's MMCD Player:

This disc works on an MMCD player also. Sony makes this very small CD-ROM player which takes special exe files. This disc works both for dos and MMCD. The MMCD version is the same as the PC version except in a few places. To start the program place the disc in the MMCD player and turn the power on. If you plan to use the bestmove feature and the MONTE CARLO routine you will need to put the Volume #1 disc in the player after the program loads. The MONTE CARLO simulations are limited to 20,000 games.

Available from Carol Joy Cole, The GAMMON PRESS and The Backgammon Shop for $99 per volume.

If you have any comments or questions, please forward them to the

Hugh Sconyers

Matchqiz (and demo)

With the MatchQiz software, Kit Woolsey (long time contributer to Inside Backgammon and Backgammon with the Champions, author of How to Play Tournament Backgammon, and currently ranked #9 in the world) has added his name to the short list of backgammon indispensables. The very short list. Magriel, Robertie, Woolsey. I think that's all you really need.

MatchQiz is more than very good; it is the single best tool I know of for transforming your game from intermediate to expert. First let me describe the format:

You choose a match from a menu, and the computer shows you the starting position and opening roll. *Then you choose your play.* Now you get to see the actual play, plus Kit Woolsey's commentary. This happens for every play, every cube decision. It is an improvement over printed annotated matches in several ways:

Convenience and speed. How many times have you followed a match on your own board only to find that the moves and commentary have stopped making sense? Perhaps you moved the wrong piece two rolls ago? Or was it three rolls ago? Maybe you should just start this game over. Never again with MQ.

How many hints do you receive when going over printed matches? You can see that the player drops the cube because a new game begins next page. Or did the index card you use to cover the bottom of the page slip, denying you the chance to come up with your play without seeing Svobodny's? Not with MQ.

Perfect use of default options. Do you have a tendency to forget the cube in complex positions? MQ will let you make that mistake -- but will chide you for it.

Of course the format wouldn't mean much if the annotations weren't up to par. But they are exquisite. Woolsey is complete, concise, and entertaining. He covers all aspects of play, from the most elementary opening moves to the most subtle match equity considerations. Here is one small sample:

``This is an expert play which many players would not find. If Magriel quietly plays 13/5, O'Laughlin will be free to make any point that his dice dictate, and Magriel will be poorly placed in the upcoming prime vs. prime battle since he will have two men back will O'Laughlin will have only one man back. Magriel's play forces O'Laughlin to attack on the bar point whether he wants to or not, thus preventing him from making optimal use of such point making numbers as 42 or 51. It is thematic when you have the better board and your opponent has one man back to split your runners to make it difficult for your opponent to catch up in the board-building battle.'' You get this level of analysis after every nearly every play.

One final benefit that might go unnoticed is volume. Woolsey has 18 matches available now, and volume four is due soon. That is quite a library. Often an annotater will mention some general theme or principle and show how it applies it to a specific position. But would that principle apply if the position were slightly different? With the MQ library, you will be able to compare similar positions and examine if the same principles apply. This is especially true for the opening phase of the game, where the same sorts of decisions come up all the time.

Woolsey sells one match for $20, or a set of 6 for $100. This is a fantastic deal considering that most printed annotated matches go for $20 or so, and I guarantee that you'll get more use out of these. Write to:

Hal Heinrich
#203, 215 14th Ave. SW
Calgary, AB
Canada T2R 0M2

or call (403) 234-9944

Jeremy Bagai

[Note: Also available from Carol Joy Cole and The GAMMON PRESS] [Note: This program is written for the IBM-PC, but it 'should' run under "Soft-PC" for the Macintosh, any level, as the graphics are CGA (640x200x2) ...Mark]

From: (Kit Woolsey)
Subject: Matchqiz Demo
X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL1]

As many of you know, Hal Heinrich and I have produced several annotated matches which run on computer (PC only -- sorry, you MAC users). Hal is the programmer, I wrote the annotations. We have a demo match which we give away for free, so I thought it would be a good idea to make it available on the net both for the enjoyment of R.G.B. readers and, of course, to entice you to purchase the other annotated matches. This is my first effort at doing this so I may have screwed up somewhere -- if so, please let me know what went wrong.

The program can be gotten via an anonymous ftp to go to the directory /pub/kw/kwoolsey/gammon/matchqiz -- there you will find 2 files. One is: readme, which is instructions for retrieving and running the program. The other is: mqizdemo.exe, which is the program and necessary files.

Feel free to distribute this demo package to any friends who may be interested. If you run into any problems, please contact me at:

Kit Woolsey

Backgammon Position Analyzer


BPA is a program which has three basic features: The CPW of a position, the correct way to play either one or two numbers of a roll, and the number of rolls that bear-off all checkers in N turns.

The data base is uniquely compressed to fit within 20 megabytes and covers all home board positions, many bear-in positions where you are setting up to bear-off, and a single checker race. In the single checker race, any number of checkers can be off and the single checker can be on any point from the 7 to the 19 point. Contact is allowed and a cpw will be calculated if the opponents position is in the data base, but contact is ignored in the calculation. Thus there are over 25 BILLION positions covered, not counting all the single checker positions. That's a very efficient use of data in memory. This concentration is possible because the answer for the cpw is an approximation, not an exact figure. However, the approximation is very good. Using an extended calculation from where others had left off, the expected error in the range of 20 to 80 % is 0.04%. This is good enough to make all checker plays accurately. ( Ok, you'll be able to find a few positions where the play made is off by a very small fraction of 1%.)

When you have either one or two numbers you want to play, BPA will give an answer very quickly by looking into the data base and checking all possible ways to play the number(s).

The number of rolls to bear-off in N turns is very helpful in understanding what is going on in certain positions, but is not for everyone.

BPA is supplied with all the data calculated, and is distributed on 14 diskettes. It is currently not copy protected but because of the extent of illegal distribution that has gone on, it will be protected in the future. Each program is individualized by showing a subsciber's name on the screen. btw, if anyone has an illegal copy and wants to get registered at no cost to them, they should contact me at for the procedure. This is a limited time offer and will end when and if BPA is integrated into any of the commercial game playing programs. Registered users will receive an upgraded EXE file to be able to use BPA with such a program.

Larry Strommen

Available from Larry Strommen and Carol Joy Cole


Software Review: BG-SCRIBE, A Program By Walter Trice.

Mark Damish (E-mail:

BG-Scribe -- A system for editing, replaying, and printing backgammon matches for the IBM-PC by Walter Trice.

This is a program which I consider essential for myself. It will:

  • Allow one to enter matches from books and magazines, or from those personally recorded, to be played back and studied later. Entry is done using the numeric keypad. After a while, you end up being able to enter a match very quickly, and become quite proficient at touch-typing the keypad to boot. An `AT' style keyboard is preferable for entering matches.
  • Play back matches purchased from Walter. Watching great matches between the masters is definitely enlightening. My favorite matches are the ones from annotated books. It shouldn't be hard to write a program to convert a match from one format to another, if already have a collection of matches. I've converted matches posted to Internet by Butch Meese using nothing more than simple editor macros. The matches are currently stored as plain ASCII files---one directory per match, and one file per game.
  • Print out matches to disk or printer. I like to: print out to disk, annotate my comments using a simple editor, then print the resulting file to a printer. The program will also embed diagrams of positions to the printout, but it uses IBM graphics characters, which might have to be changed if your printer doesn't support them. The diagram feature is especially useful for diagramming doubling decisions.

The program is run from one of two screens. The first is a text screen with options for creating a new match, loading, saving, etc.

The second screen displays the backgammon board using a CGA 4 color, 40 column text mode. Trust me here---this mode, with its X's and O's, looks a lot better than backgammon boards I've seen drawn using the CGA 2 color graphics mode. Why CGA text mode? Probably because it will run on any portable or palmtop machine, and likely on most PC emulators on other platforms. It also runs fine in a window under MS Windows, without having to mess around with a .pif file.

The second screen is where matches are entered or played back. When playing back a match, you may see the dice, then the players choice, and then see the move when the screen is updated. It is possible to go forwards or backwards in a game. Although you may have entered your rolls in `landing spot' format, the program can optionally display them in `from/to' format. It only prints in the format which it was entered though. You may also mark positions which you would like to have diagrammed.

As stated above, the user interface consists of two screens. Unlike modern X/Windows/Mac programs which do a lot for you, this program assumes that what you tell, or don't tell the program is exactly what you want. I.E.: You can enter data, then quit the program. If you didn't save, the program won't prompt you. It is like driving a standard after getting used to cruise control. The program does a lot, you have to remember to tell it what to do though! The learning curve has a slight incline, but the program is well worth the time it takes to become familiar with it. I found the instructions clear.

I want to start bringing pen and steno paper to local events to record some `master games' for later entry/playback. I also want to review some of my `bad games', searching for weakness. There is a lot to be learned!

The price of the program is $50, including 11 matches. Additional matches are available from Walter.

I am not affiliated with BG-SCRIBE in any way, except for being a very satisfied customer. Please mention where you saw this article if you should contact Walter. I did mention to him that I was going to write a review---Last spring!


Walter G. Trice
549 Wachusett St.
Holden, MA 01520

(508) 829-3283
UPDATE 9512:

Walter as added a program which will convert FIBS oldmoves format to BG-Scribe. I haven't tested it with output from rfibs.

The Match Strategist (and demo)

Tom Johnson ( has written a progam which is best described as a match equity calculator. Given: Match length, Score, Gammon chances, Cube value, and wether the cube is on the last roll, last two rolls, or a normal cube, the program will will calculate the information shown in the sample screen shown below.

                                     BLACK     WHITE      Menu
Input data                        ---------------------   -----
   match length (2 - 25)          |    3    |    3    |   L) Match length
   score (0 - 2)                  |    0    |    0    |   S) Score
   cube value                     |    1    |         |   C) Cube value
   chance of winning the game     |   35 %  |   65 %  |   W) Winning chance
   chance of winning a gammon     |   20 %  |   20 %  |   G) Gammon chance
   cube situation (1 - 3)         |    3    |    3    |   V) Cube situation
                                  ---------------------   N) New table
Static match winning chance with  ---------------------   X) Exit
   no double this game            |  45.99% |  54.01% |   A) About demo
   double and take                |  41.00% |  59.00% |
   double and drop                |  60.44% |  39.56% |   Cube situations
   double, take and redouble      |  35.00% |  65.00% |   ---------------
Dynamic data (game win %)         ---------------------   1) Last roll
   minimum give point             |  50.00% |   N/A   |   2) Last two rolls
   optimum give point             |  61.63% |   N/A   |   3) Normal cube
   minimum take point             |   N/A   |  30.43% |
   doubling window (size)         |  19.57% |  19.57% |   N/A = Not applicable.
Strategy:  Black should not double.
           His position is not strong enough.

      THE MATCH STRATEGIST DEMO - copyright(c) 1994 Komodo Software

   The demo program is limited to 3-point matches and is available for
   anonymous ftp from:

   directry:  pub/users/damish/backgammon

   The program runs on a MS-DOS machine, and the file needs to be 'unzipped'
   with pkunzip 2.04 or later.

   A commercial version, which gives equities up to a 25-point match may be
   obtained from the auther for $45 + S&H.

   [Now (3-95) advertized by Carol Joy Cole for $25.]

Shareware and PD Software

rfibs (fibs recorder & playback)

   From: (Jan Spitzkowsky)
   Subject: Recording and replaying games played on FIBS
   Date: Wed, 31 Aug 1994 10:00:21 GMT

   Hello fibsters,

   I wrote two utilities for FIBS and i want to distribute them. The tools are
   able to record (rfibs) own games and watched games and to replay (sfibs)
   I observe a lot of discussions about interesting positions in this group.
   With 'rfibs' and 'sfibs' it is possible to extract special positions played
   on FIBS (or even a whole game) and to comment it.
   I am interested in a collection of good and interesting games, commented or
   not, to improve my own playing. If someone wants to get these utilities
   for collecting and sharing some games, too, the address of our ftp-server
   File: pub/spitz/bg/bg.tar.gz

   Below I give a short description of the two tools:

   Hope to find much interest for my work and many good games,

                                         Jan (hotspot on FIBS)

   Version 26th August 94:

   Any bug reports, comments ... etc.

   rfibs [<record file>] [-c]

   'rfibs' records games played on FIBS and filters the textual output.
   Therefore the setting boardstyle must be set to 3 and the stdout of
   FIBS must be piped through 'rfibs'. The correct call for 'rfibs' is:
   'telnet <...> | rfibs <args>'.
   Two additional FIBS-commands are available with 'rfibs':
   - bstyle <b>: switches the board display. Additional board displays can be
     created and added in the source 'boards.c' and 'fibs.h'. <b> currently
     ranges from 0 to 1.
   - switch: switches the player and the board.
   - recinit: stops recording of the actual game.
   - comment <comment>: A comment is inserted into the record file.
   Every started, resumed or watched game will be stored in
      <record file>.
   Every talk of the players or watchers will be included in the game as a
   The argument '-c' suppresses recording the talks as comments.
   The created file has the same syntax like the output of the FIBS-command

      The prompt '>' is missing
      Prompts for login and password are missing, too.

   sfibs { <gamefile> [-g] | -p } [-y<b>] [-s]

   'sfibs' shows a recorded game given in <gamefile>. The gamefile can
      be created with 'rfibs' or with the FIBS-command 'oldmoves'.
   Argument '-g' suppresses interaction: The whole game is printed.
   Argument '-y' gives the boardstyle. The available boardstyles are the same
      as in 'rfibs'.
   Argument '-s' puts player O on the downside. Default is player X on the
   Argument '-p' doesn't show a game. It enables the user to create and to
      print his own positions.

   'rfibs' and 'sfibs' are given in the following files:
      readme, makefile, fibs.h, sfibs.c, rfibs.c, boards.c

An "as is" DOS Port by Robin Davies (FIBS/W author) is available for ftp from: This version will work with output saved using the '>' command for saving matches from FIBS/W. The file currently contains executables only.

LaTeX Style for BG Positions and Games I have just finished the first version of a LaTeX style to print out positions and matches.

The main features are:

  • Boards produced with a special font made with metafont, no inclusion of Postscript files needed (i.e. every dvi previewer should be able to display the boards).
  • Two different environments for single positions and complete matches.
  • Board layout customizable in both environments.
  • Automatic generation of the current board at arbitrary places in the game environment. Only the moves have to be entered, the state of the board is maintained internally by the style.

I have uploaded my LaTeX package to as a CTAN submission and was told that it's installed under


It should be available on every CTAN Server (these are if I am right informed:, and


BOA/386 Bearoff analyzer From Harold Wittmann

I have written a piece of backgammon software that gives you the winning probability for bearoff positions.

    BOA/386. It's inexpensive shareware. Try it!
            Never again rollout bearoffs!

   Here is what FILE_ID.DIZ says:
   |           BOA/386 v1.1              |
   | A Backgammon Bearoff Analyzer:      |
   | - gives probability of each side    |
   |   winning, cubeless (both side must |
   |   have all their men in the inner   |
   |   board)                            |
   | - shows proper way to play any roll |
   |   of dice                           |
   | - very fast and accurate            |
   | - less than 1MB HD-space            |
   | - MS-DOS, 386SX+ required           |
   |  BOA/386 is inexpensive shareware.  |
   |      Only 20$ registration fee.     |

Available for anonymous ftp from:
Please note that the file is over 800k.


D1. I'm looking for a club to play in...

Backgammon clubs in North America

Below is a list of backgammon clubs in North America. It was taken from the January/Febrary 1995 issue of the Chicago Point newsletter. It may be copied for noncommercial purposes as long as you give full credit to "CHICAGO POINT, 3940 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 504 Chicago, IL 60659-3128"

Information for this listing has been obtained directly from the featured backgammon clubs. Changes are inevitable and we suggest that you always call before attending. As a service to our readers, CHICAGO POINT would like to maintain an accurate listing of Backgammon Clubs In North America. Please send information including updates, club closings, and new clubs to:

      Contact: Chicago Point
               Bill Davis, Editor
               3940 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 504
               Chicago, IL 60659-3128

               Phone: 312 583-6464
               Fax:   312 583-3264


   CLUB NAME.......................  LOCATION..................
   CITY & STATE........  MEETING ON................  TIME...
   CONTACT.............  TELEPHONE...
   MAIL INQUIRIES TO...................................


   Backgammon Club of San Diago     Java House
   Delmar, CA            Sunday                      2:00 PM
   Mike Fujita           619/294-2007
   P.O Box 178119; San Diago, CA 92177

   Backgammon Club of San Diago     II Forno
   La Jolia, CA          Wednesday Monthly           6:30 PM
   Mike Fujita           619/294-2007
   P.O Box 178119; San Diago, CA 92177

   San Francisco Backgammon          Golden Gate Grill
   San Francisco, CA     Tuesday                     7:45 PM
   Doug Adsit            415/931-4600
   3200 Fillmore Street; San Francisco, CA 94123

   San Francisco Bridge & BG Club    Clubroom
   San Francisco, CA     Wed., Fri.                  9:00 PM
   Augie Hunt            415/776-6949
   777 Jones Street; San Francisco, CA 94109

   Gammon Associates                 Grand Slam Bridge & BG Club
   Woodland Hills, CA    Tuesday                     7:00 PM
   Patrick Gibson        818/901-0464
   7641 Orion Avenue; Van Nuys, CA 91406

   Gammon Associates                 Grand Slam Bridge & BG Club
   Woodland Hills, CA    Sunday                      7:00 PM
   Patrick Gibson        818/901-0464
   7641 Orion Avenue; Van Nuys, CA 91406

   Prime BG Club of Las Vegas        Jockey Club
   Las Vegas, NV         Tuesday                     7:00 PM
   Howard Markowitz      702/893-6025
   2620 S. Maryland Pkwy; Box 230; Las Vegas, NV 89109

   No. Nevada Backgammon Assn.       Rapscallion Seafood House
   Reno, NV              Thursday                    7:30 PM
   Jim Allen             702/329-1227
   449 W. Plumb Lane; Reno, NV 89509

   Oergon Backgammon Club            Lacey's
   Lake Oswego, OR       1st & 3rd Tuesday           7:00 PM
   Henry Moss            503/636-6258
   2360 Greebtree Road; Lake Oswego, OR 97034

   Pacific NW Backgammon Assn.       Shakey's Pizza
   Bellevue, WA          Monday                      7:00 PM
   Chuck Breckenridge    206/778-8181
   18204 Olympic View Drive; Edmonds, WA 98020

   Puget Sound Backgammon Assn.      European Connecktion
   Seattle, WA           Tuesday                     7:30 PM
   Guy Thurber           206/244-6737
   428 SW 127th Street; Seattle, WA 98146


   Bloomington-Normal BG Club        Ride The Nine
   Bloomington, IL       1st/3rd/5th Tues.           6:15 PM
   Lane O'Connor         309/454-1947
   108 Riss Drive; Normal, IL 61761

   Games People Play                 Alexander's
   Chicago, IL           Monday                      6:30 PM
   J.A. Miller           312/768-5523
   P.O. Box 8630; Chicago, IL 60680

   Chicago Bar Point Club            Golden Flame
   Chicago, IL           Tuesday                     6:15 PM
   Bill Davis            312/338-6380
   2726 W. Lunt Avenue; Chicago, IL 60645

   Chicago Bar Point Club            Braxton Seafood Grill
   Oak  Brook, IL        Sunday bimonthly           12:30 PM
   Peter Kalba           312/252-7755
   2510 W. Iowa Street; Chicago, IL 60622

   Pub Club                          Crickets Pub & Grill
   Glendale Heights, IL  Monday                      7:30 PM
   V.W. Zimnicki         708/924-8632
   P.O. Box 72216; Roselle, IL 60172

   Prime BG Club of Chicago          TJ's Lounge/Radisson Hotel
   Lincolnwood, IL       Friday                      7:00 PM
   Joann Feinstein       708/674-0120
   8149 Kenton; Skokie, IL 60076

   Central Illinois Backgammon Club  Cummins Family Restaraunt
   Peoria, IL            Thursday                    6:30 PM
   Ed Bauder             309/686-6662
   1115 E. McClure Avenue; Peoria, IL 61603

   Sangamon Valley BG Assn.          Parker's Sports Bar
   Springfield, IL       2nd & 4th Tuesday           6:00 PM

   Sangamon Valley BG Assn.          Parker's Sports Bar
   Springfield, IL       1st Sat./Nov.-Apr.         11:30 AM
   Randy Armstrong       217/528-0117
   2012 N. 20th Street; Springfield, IL 62702

   Winnetka Backgammon  Club         Winnetka Community House
   Winnetka, IL          Wednesday                   7:00 PM
   Trudie Stern          708/446-0537
   4200 W. Lake 302C; Glenview, IL 60025

   Summit City Backgammon League     Alumni Club
   Ft. Wayne, IN          Wednesday                  7:00 PM
   Ken Bruck              219/639-6898
   P.O. Box 6546; Fort Wayne, IN 46896

   Hoosier Backgammon Club           Spats
   Indianapolis, IN      Thursday                    7:00 PM
   Butch Meese           317/845-8435
   7620 Kilmer Lane; Indianapolis, IN 46256

   Flint Area Backgammon Club        Ramada Inn
   Flint, Ml             Thursday                    7:00 PM
   Carol Joy Cole        810/232-9731
   3003 Ridgecliffe Drive; Flint, MI 48532

   Plymouth Backgammon Club          Box Bar & Grill
   Plymouth, MI          Wednesday                   7:30 PM
   Dean Adamian          313/981-5706
   42954 Barchester; Canton, MI 48187

   Cavendish North BG Club           Clubhouse
   Southfield, MI        Daily except Sun.           1:00 PM
   Joe Sylvester         810/642-9616
   30065 Greenfield Road; Southfield, MI 48076

   Minneapolis Backgammon            Minneapolis Athletic Club
   Minneapolis, MN       Monday                      5:00 PM
   Fred Kalantari        612/682-1716
   4701 Valley View Road; Edina, MN 55424

   Cleveland Area Backgammon         Boulevard Sports Tavem
   Cuyahoga Falls, OH    Wednesday                   6:30 PM
   Irv Taylor            216/663-7332
   P.O. Box 28515; Cleveland, OH 44128

   Dallas Backgammon League          Scoreboard
   Addison, TX           Wednesday                   7:45 PM
   Rich Weaver           214/620-7462
   2682 Hearthstone; Dallas, TX 75234

   Austin Backgammon Assn.           Bombay Bicycle Club
   Austin, TX            Monday                      7:30 PM
   Jackie Seiders-Smart  512/261-8518
   30 Hightrail Way, Austin TX 78738

   American Backgammon Club          Vickery Feed Store
   Dallas, TX            Sunday                      6:00 PM
   Kati Pratt            214/827-8403
   5631 Ellsworth; Dallas, TX 75206

   Houston Backgammon Club           Abdallah's
   Houston, TX           Tuesday                     7:00 PM
   Jack Butler           713/774-9439
   5931 Reamer Street; Houston, TX 77074

   San Antonio Backgammon            Dad's
   San Antonio, TX       Friday                      8:00 PM
   Marcel Mommers        210/606-0025
   3812 Greenridge Drive; Cilbo, TX 78108

   Milwaukee Backgammon  Club        Gas Lite North
   Milwaukee, WI         Wednesday                   7:00 PM
   Marv Amol             414/355-8805
   9031 N. 70th Street; Milwaukee, WI 53223

   Milwaukee Backgammon              John Hawks Pub
   Milwaukee, WI         Sunday Bimonthly           11:30 AM
   Merril Schrager       414/463-2498
   9043 W. Grbaosa Druve; Milwaukee, WI 53225


   Beltway Backgammon Club           Promenade Cardroom
   Bethesda, MD          2nd & 4th Sunday           12:00 N
   Barry Steinberg       301/530-0604
   5712 Quebec Street; Benwyn Hts. MD 20740

   Cavendish Club of Boston          Clubroom
   Brookline, MA         Thur. & Sat.               1:00 PM
   Carl Saldinger         617/734-2230
   111 Cypress Street; Brookline, MA 02146

   New England Backgammon Club       Sheraton Commander Hotel
   Cambridge, MA         Sunday monthly [Sep-Jun]   12:30 PM
   Andy Latto            617/374-2537 (days)  617/784/6114 (eves)
   156 Massapoag Avenue; Sharon, MA 02067

   New England Backgammon Club       Sheraton Commander Hotel
   Cambridge, MA         Monday                      7:00 PM

   New Jersey Backgammon Assn.       Best Western Oritani Hotel
   Hackensack,NJ         Tues. & Fri.                7:45 PM
   Ron Whitney           201/833-2915
   279 Glen Court; Teaneck, NJ 07666

   Ace Point Backgammon Club         Clubroom
   New York, NY          Daily                       3:00 PM
   Michael Valentine     212/753-0842
   41 E. 60th Street; New York, NY 10022

   Coterie                           Clubroom
   New York, NY          Daily                       1:00 PM
   Louise Goldsmith      212/371-5151
   Private club. Telephone for information.

   New York Chess & Backgammon       Office Building
   New York, NY          Daily, Tour. Sunday        12:00 N
   Steve Manning         212/302-5874
   120 W. 41st Street 3; New York, NY 10036

   Saratoga Backgammon Club          Waterfront Restaraunt
   Saratoga Springs, NY  Friday                      1:00 PM
   Lee Hoge              518/584-1714
   P.O. Box 563; Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

   Greater New York BG Club          Woodbury Ramada Inn
   Woodbury, NY          Sunday monthly             12:30 PM
   Dr. Bob Hill          718/341-3779
   194-22 115th Road; Jamaica, NY 11412

   Cavendish Club of Philadelphia    Clubroom
   Philadelphia, PA      Mon, Wed, Thu, Sat          1:00 PM
   Ken Relver            215/878-5777
   3801 Conshohocken Avenue; Philadelphia, PA 19131

   Pittsburgh Backgammon Assn.       Murphy's Tap Room
   Pittsburgh, PA        Tuesday                     8:30 PM
   Steve Hast            412/823-7500
   3560 Ridgewood Road; Pittsburgh, PA 15235


   Suncoast Backgammon Assn.         New York, New York Lounge
   Clearwater, FL        Monday                      7:00 PM
   Drew Giovanis         813/726-1398
   25350 U.S. Hwy 19 N. 67; Clearwater, FL 34623

   South Florida Backgammon          Big Apple Sports Club
   Ft. Lauderdale, FL    Sunday                      1:00 PM
   Elayne Feinstein      305/785-1282
   2621 NE 7th Terrace; Pompano Beach, FL 33064

   Backgammon Club of N.W. Florida   Olde English Pub
   Lynn   Haven, FL      Tuesday                     7:30 PM
   Rick Bieniak          904/773-2013
   P.O. Box 416; Wausau, FL 32463

   Orando Backgammon                 Coach's Locker Room
   Orando, FL            Tuesday                     7:30 PM
   David Thomas          904/736-2844
   P.O. Box 803, Deland, FL 32721

   Backgammon Society of Sarasota    Bath & Raquet Club
   Sarasota, FL          Tuesday                     7:00 PM
   Frank Shank           813/792-3992
   5320 86th St. W.; Brandenton, FL 34210

   Atlanta Backgammon Association    Cabo Wabo & Grill
   Atlanta, GA           Wednesday                   7:00 PM
   Dave Cardwell         404/682-1969
   P.O. Box 956547; Duluth, GA 30136

   Atlanta Backgammon Association    CafFiends Coffee Bar
   Atlanta, GA           Sunday Monthly              7:00 PM
   Dave Cardwell         404/682-1969
   P.O. Box 956547; Duluth, GA 30136

   Louisville Backgammon Club         Encore Restaurant
   Louisville, KY        2nd & 4th Tuesday           6:30 PM
   Quint McTyeire        502/896-9783
   4906 Crofton Road; Louisville, KY 40207

   Raleigh Backgammon Club            Western Bowling Alley
   Raleigh, NC           1st & 3rd Friday            7:30 PM
   Frank Bommarito       919/552-2291
   401 St. John Court; Holly Springs, NC 27540


   Vancouver Backgammon             Jo-Anne's Place
   Vancouver, BC         Tuesday                    8:00 PM
   Marty Jensen          604/688-8317
   1339 Burnaby St. 402; Vancouver, BC V6E 1R2; CANADA

   Nat'l Capital Backgammon Club     Lunergan's Pub
   Vanier, ON            lst Sun./Sep.-Jun.        12:30 PM
   Eden Windish          613/741-2530
   396 Talbot Street; Ottawa, ON KlK 2N6; CANADA

   Le Gammon                         Clubroom
   Montreal, QB          Daily                       3:30 PM
   Michel Medifti        514/845-8370
   552 St. Catherine East, Montreal, OB H2L 2E1; CANADA

Playing Backgammon in the Boston area

   From: (Michael A Urban)
   Date: 19 Oct 1993

   Frequently, membership fees are waived for initial participants.
   For complete details, contact the club of interest.

   Cavendish Club                         617-734-2230
   111 Cypress St.
   Brookline, MA  02146        USA        Fee:  $150/year

   The Cavendish runs chouettes on Thursday evenings and Saturday
   afternoons.  The club also has duplicate and rubber bridge.

   New England Backgammon Club
   c/o Sheraton Commander Hotel
   16 Garden Street
   Cambridge, MA 02138-3609    USA        Fee:   $35/year

   Andy Latto            617/374-2537 (days)  617/784/6114 (eves)
   156 Massapoag Avenue; Sharon, MA 02067
The NEBC runs weekly Monday tournaments starting at 7pm and monthly Sunday tournaments beginning at 1pm. No smoking is permitted in the tournament room. The NEBC publishes, "Anchors", a monthly newsletter.

A homepage for the NEBC is under construction:

[Note: There are no Sunday tournaments in July or August]
[Note: Some Sunday tournaments start at noon. Nov and May in 94/95 season] [Note: There are no Monday tournaments During the summer of 1995]

Other Backgammon Clubs

The Danish BG Federation Phone: (+45 39 40 06 07)

The Danish Backgammon Federation is maintaining two extensive national ratinglists (all matches and tournament matches). As far as I recall we are currently rating more than 50,000 matches a year !!

Furthermore the DBgF is offering a variety of things stretching from a monthly magazine, live tournaments EVERY DAY, international tournaments (NORDIC OPEN every Easter) and many more things.

For your information: The DBgF is a democratically governed organisation. We encourage all other nations to form national organisations. It is the only way if we really want to promote the game in a serious manner.

Erik M. Gravgaard
President of the Danish BG Federation
erikg on FIBS

In your FAQ you have details of backgammon clubs ... can you include ours please? Several fibsters come to it regularly.

Rose and Thistle, Argyle Road, Reading, UK. Weekly Wednesdays from 8:30 pm. Informal - no officers, but contact number: Marina 01734 612814

Thanks. :-)
* Marina Smith * Reading, U.K. *
marina on FIBS.

From: Jake Jacobs
Subject: New Backgammon Club in Chicago
Date: 4 Dec 1995 16:48:00 GMT

In January, 1996, Dean Muench will be opening the Chicago Board Of Backgammon. The CBOB will be a private club for backgammon and other games. Address is 175 w. Jackson (right near the CBOT). It will be open Monday through Friday from 12 noon, and on weekends for special events. I can forward inquiries to Dean till he gets a phone #. I'm at

The CBOB will hold a grand opening tournament on 1/6/96 at 12 noon. The address is 175 w. Jackson, suite 1103. The phone number from that date onward will be 312-922-0404.

   From: (Paul McMillan)
   Subject: New Weekly BG Site in San Francisco
   Date: 27 Feb 1995 15:55:35 -0800
The Baja Cantina will begin hosting weekly BG tournaments on Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. starting March 8, 1995.

The format will largely resemble that of the tournaments formerly held on Tuesdays at the Golden Gate Grill.

The Baja is located across the street from the Golden Gate Grill at 3154 Fillmore, corner of Greenwich. The phone number there is 415 885-2252.

Please bring your boards.

Hi Mark! On my recent trip to Sydney, I visited the bg club that has been running there 12 years. They said to put it on the FAQ, so here are the details:

The Clocktower pub
Corner of Crown St. and Nixon St.
Tuesday nights.

* Marina Smith * Reading, U.K. *

   From: "Dr. Linton Hutchinson" (
   Subject: Re: North American clubs on WWW
   Date: 28 May 1995 03:35:26 GMT

   The Orlando Backgammon meets on Tuesday 9:30 to whenever. The location
   is on 436 just past I-4. First shopping center on the right. Behind TGI
   Friday's at the Coaches Lockerroom. Upstairs.

   The Tyson's Corner Backgammon Club meets every Monday at 7:00 PM at
   Mr. Smith's Restaurant, 8369 Leesburg Pike (Route 7) in the Pike 7
   Shopping Center.  It's in northern Virginia near Washington, DC.
   call Bill Pow at (703) 549-1808 or (301)227-1915

   [Submitted by Mel Leifer]

Backgammon clubs around the world may be obtained from:

D2. Where are the tournaments?

  • Look for ads in backgammon newsletters.
  • Check backgammon clubs.
  • Sometimes announcements are posted to the news group
  • Various WWW pages are now posting schedules.

D3. I'm looking for information about newsletters and other publications.


Newsletter of the New England Backgammon Club
Monthly except July, usually 8 pages, two devoted to local news with remaining to analytical material and backgammon related stories with minimal advertising.

     Subscription: USA/Canada/Mexico: $15/year.
                    Overseas: $25/year (check drawn on U.S. bank).
      Contact: NEBC
               c/o Sheraton-Commander Hotel
               16 Garden Street
               Cambridge, MA 02138-3609

Backgammon Magazine

Lately this has been published quarterly in a combined German/English edition.

     Vertrieb (sales/marketing)
     Edith Johanni
     Emil-Nolde-Str. 26
     90455 Nurnberg
     Tel.: 0911/883253

     Redaktion (Editor)
     Harold Johanni
     Hochstr. 7
     90429 Nurnberg


Bi-monthly, 24 A5 sized pages. in Danish. It is a newsletter/magazine for a BG club in Copenhagen. 4-6 pages are directed towrds the members of the club, the rest is general analysis, commentated matches, articles, problems etc. There is a quiz a la Inside BG's quiz. 4 problems each issue, with the answers taking 4-6 pages.

     Subscription:  Scandinavia      Danish kr. 120
                     Europe                 Dkr. 140
                     Overseas (USA/Canada)  Dkr. 160
      Contact:       Asger Kring (
                     Lykkesholms Alle 4B,3 th.
                     1902 Frederiksberg C.
                     tlf: 3131 1439

Chicago Point Newsletter

A Prime Source of Backgammon Information

      Monthly newsletter, 10 pages:
      Subscription: USA/Canada/Mexico: $25/year.
                    Overseas: $35/year airmail in USD check drawn on
                              U.S. bank.
      Contact: Chicago Point
               Bill Davis, Editor
               3940 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 504
               Chicago, IL 60659-3128

               Phone: 312 583-6464
               Fax:   312 583-3264

European Backgammon News

      Contact: European Backgammon News
               Apartado 81
               Garrucha (Almeria)

               FAX: 34/68-438347

     Subscription: $30/12 issues in Europe. $40 elsewhere.
     Published since July 1993 by Martin de Bruin.

Flint Area Backgammon News

Monthly newsletter, 10 pages: Problem analysis, book and software reviews, tournament schedules and complete results, local, national and international backgammon news and views. Full page catalog of backgammon merchandise.

     Subscription: USA/Canada/Mexico: $20/year or $200 lifetime.
                    Overseas: $25/year or $250 lifetime subscription.
      Contact: Carol Joy Cole, Editor
               3003 Ridgecliffe Drive
               Flint, Michigan 48532-3730 USA
               Phone/Fax: 810-232-9731.


Members magazine for the Danish Backgammon Federation.
A5 sized. Published 6 - 8 times a year with a circulation between 1,800 and 10,000 (10,000 during Carlsberg Backgammon Cup).
32 to 44 pages with articles, rating lists, tournament invitations and reviews, general BG theori, "ask the experts"-coloumn, annotated matches etc. Mainly in Danish, with occasional English articles.
Subscription can also be obtained by non-members for DKK 180 per year (US$ 30).
Advertisement: Please contact Chris Ternel for prices.
          Chris Ternel
          Danish Backgammon Federation
          Gersonsvej 25
          DK-2900  Hellerup
          Tel. +45 39 40 06 07
          Fax. +45 39 40 01 44

   or you can contact:

         Erik Gravgaard, president of DBgF

Hoosier Backgammon Club Newsletter

Bi-monthly, 8 pages: Articles/problems plus very issue non-annotated matches of todays best players.

      Subscription: USA: $12/years Canada/Mexico: $14/year.
                    Overseas: $16/year (cash or check drawn on US bank.)
      Contact: Butch & Mary Ann Meese
               Hoosier Backgammon Club
               7620 Kilmer Lane
               Indianapolis, IN 46256 USA

               Tel:    317.845.8435

Inside Backgammon

Bi-monthly, 24 pages: Technical magazine with quizzes, articles and annotated matches by the best backgammon players today.

     Subscription: USA: $40/years
                    Canada/Mexico and oversea ground: $45/year.
                    Overseas airmail: $60/year (US funds).
               P. O. Box 294
               Arlington, MA 02174  USA

               (617) 641-2091


Norpunkt is the magazine of the Norwegian Backgammon Federation (Norges Backgammon Forbund). It's published quarterly, but only written in Norwegian.

A sample of articles written in Norwegian appears at WWW site:

The WWW page for the Norwegian Backgammon Federation is:

For Further information send E-mail to Stein Welle at

Are there any other backgammon newsletters or magazines out there? Please help to keep the faq up to date. (thanks!)

D4. Backgammon books and book reviews.

BG books [summary] by Marty Storer

   From: (Larry Hunter)
   Subject: Bibliography
   Date: 21 May 92 20:11:35 GMT
   Sender: (usenet news poster)

One more for the FAQ. Before Marty Storer left the list, I pestered him for an annotated bibliography. He came through in grand style. Here it is:

Must have:

Paul Magriel, NY Times/Quadrangle Press, New York 1976.
The best introduction to the game. Covers basic checker play very well. If you read and thoroughly understand this book, you'll play a decent game. Weaknesses--skimpy treatment of the doubling cube.

Genud vs Dwek: The 1981 World Backgammon Championship_ (or similar title)
Bill Robertie, The GAMMON PRESS, Arlington, Mass. 1982.
Very thorough coverage of the 25-point finals of the 1981 Monte Carlo tournament. Goes into quite a bit of detail about ins and outs of match play. Excellent section on backgames. I've referred to this as Robertie(red) since it has a red cover 8-).

Backgammon With The Champions
Kent Goulding, ~1980-82.
Series of annotated matches between good players. Forget how many in all. Excellent material, giving very good insight into how top players think. Commentary by Goulding, often in collaboration with Kit Woolsey; both of these guys are very, very strong players. Let's see, the matches are Seidel vs. Hodis; Magriel vs. Sconyers; Genud vs. Posner; Pasko vs. Motakhasses; two (?) 5-point matches in one volume: Lester vs. Horan and Woolsey vs. Pasko; Robertie vs. Senkiewicz; Goulding vs. Maxakuli; Dwek vs. Chafetz; Ballard vs. Lubetkin; Eisenberg vs. Magriel(?); and more I can't remember. I can't recommend this series too highly (though Genud vs. Posner was a lousy match).

Advanced Backgammon (2nd edition; two volumes)
Bill Robertie,
The GAMMON PRESS, Arlington, Mass. '91. I haven't seen this yet--only the first edition of one volume. Series of problems, giving very good introduction to truly advanced concepts. Errors in first edition are supposedly corrected. The first edition is what I call Robertie(blue); the second is Robertie(white).

Backgammon Times , all back editions.
This was a very good backgammon newspaper that was around in about '82-'83. A lot of interesting articles by top players and analysts. Probably hard to get these days.

Reno 1986
Bill Robertie, The Gammon Press, Arlington, Mass. 1987.
Two annotated matches from the very strong Reno tournament of '86. Semifinal match is between Nack Ballard and Mike Senkiewicz; an excellent match, well annotated. Finals between Ballard and Howard Markowitz. The book is in quiz format, so you can test your skill against Ballard's (well, kind of: Ballard had to find his moves over-the-board under great pressure--nothing like the finals of a big tournament to get the adrenalin flowing!). I've only found a couple of mistakes in the annotations. This book is referred to as Robertie(yellow).

World Class Backgammon, Move By Move
Roy Friedman, 1989 or 90;
forget other publication info. Annotated matches between Robertie and ``international star'' Rick Barabino (Barabino is strong, but ``international star''--I dunno...). Three 9-point matches with some excellent games (check out the second game of the first match particularly). Annotations are very good; Friedman put a lot of work into rolling out many of the diagrammed positions. The annotation style is terse; Friedman takes a very scientific approach.

Vision Laughs at Counting (two volumes)
Danny Kleinman, ~1978.
-all other material by Kleinman is "must have"--write to him at 5312-1/2 Village Green, Los Angeles, CA 90016 and tell him I sent ya.
Seminal work on match play, money play, doubling cube, races, and more. Kleinman is very prolific. His analyses are often more mathematical than the average reader can handle, but Real Mathematicians [tm] and even the layperson with math aptitude shouldn't be fazed. A Real Mathematician wouldn't call Kleinman's math "deep", but it sure is accurate, and you won't find anything similar anywhere else. He does the important work of formulating the right problems the right way, where many others couldn't.

Drawbacks: his books are self-published with lousy layout and graphics. He's supposedly not that great a player (I've never seen him play), so his analyses often lack the world-class insight into the thought processes of the strong practical player that you could get from a Goulding or a Robertie. In particular, his middle-game intuition seems less than world-class. But these drawbacks are more than made up for by the wealth of information in his books, which I still haven't completely soaked up after many years. Kleinman is a subtle thinker and a meticulous analyst of the countable, and he does a lot to develop backgammon "vision." His stuff is often uproariously funny, but sometimes one gets impatient trying to filter out what's relevant to the practical player from the humor.

I repeat--all his books are "must have's" for the serious player. They're a bit expensive since I think he bears all the production costs himself, but for the serious player they're worth every cent.

Pretty Good Books But Not "Must Have's":

Backgammon For Profit
Joe Dwek, Stein and Day, New York 1975 (out of print)
Problems that would now be considered fairly basic. Almost all solutions are right. Tables of replies to opening moves show how badly people played in 1975.

Paradoxes and Probabilities
Barclay Cooke, Random House, New York 1978.
This is almost a "must have." 168 problems, most of which are very interesting. Current thinking is that solutions to about a third of them are wrong, but the analysis gives very good insight into how Cooke, a first-generation world class player, thought about backgammon.

The Doubling Cube In Backgammon
Jeff Ward, Aquarian Enterprises, San Diego 1982.
Goes into basic doubling-cube concepts and gives some benchmark positions with equities derived from rollouts. Gives some bearoff tables, etc. Analysis of benchmark positions is pretty good but sometimes skimpy; Ward only admits to having done 100-200 rollouts to derive his equities. Worth having.

Backgammon Master Games
Bill Kennedy and Chuck Papazian, 1982 (forget other publication info).
Annotated games and positions from master match play. Analysis is largely based on intuitive concepts, and isn't well grounded in match-equity considerations etc. Not well supported by rollouts; a fair amount of errors, but the analysis overall is pretty sound.

Other books that I've read aren't worth much, including Competitive Backgammon Vol. II, Mike Labins, Marty Storer, and Bill Tallmadge, Competitive Backgammon Publications, Syracuse 1981. (It was good for the time but would be considered lousy now.)

As I mentioned before, you can reach Gammon Press at (617)641-2091, fax: (617)641-2660 or PO Box 294 Arlington, MA 02174 USA

Lawrence Hunter, PhD.
National Library of Medicine
Bldg. 38A, MS-54
Bethesda. MD 20894
(301) 496-9300
(301) 496-0673 (fax) (internet)

   [Note: Fax number edited to reflect the current number.]

BG books [summary] by John Bazigos

   Article: 1666 of
   Subject: BG BOOKS INFO
   Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1993 10:20:19 GMT
HI !

Many people (last Snoopy) have asked about good BG books, well here is and answer that i got from John Bazigos (Doc), when I asked him about books



The two best introductory books are Paul Magriel's ``Backgammon'' (New York Times Quadrangle Press; New York, NY; USA; 1976) and Enno Heyken's and Martin B. Fischer's ``The Backgammon Handbook'' (The Crowood Press; Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 2HE; Great Britain; 1990).

The advantages of Magriel's ``Backgammon'' are, first, Magriel was a clear-minded, distinguished mathematician at the top of the backgammon world when he wrote it; second, it was the only truly analytic book on backgammon since Oswald Jacoby's and John R. Crawford's ``The Backgammon Book''; third, it rendered all backgammon texts preceding it (including ``The Backgammon Book''), and even some subsequent backgammon texts, obsolete as introductory texts; fourth, it systematically elucidates backgammon strategy, from fundamental to intermediate to advanced; fifth, it does great justice to its topics in its well-diagrammed over-400 pages; and sixth, it has passed the test of time as an introductory text, having been commonly referred to as ``The Bible'' of backgammon. Its disadvantages are, first, some important details of some advanced topics (e.g., desirable back-game points), and even some major points of some beginning/intermediate topics (e.g., tradeoffs between positional and racing equity) are obsolete; second, the prose, though very readable, is structurally and stylistically weak; third, the text has been out-of-print since some time last year, though is well worth a search of *all* your local used/out-of-print bookstores; and fourth, though the publication price was $24.95, the only mail-order list on which I have found it prices it at $80, which makes a used/out-of-print bookstore an even better source -- since it is typically discounted to about $15 there, in my experience (here in the San Francisco Bay Area).

The advantages of ``The Backgammon Handbook'' are, first, like ``Backgammon'', it systematically elucidates backgammon strategy; second, it contains the complete score, with some annotations, of the very illuminating, 26-game match between two-time World Backgammon Champion and leading bg theorist Bill Robertie and now-inactive [as of this writing] international master Nack Ballard (Reno, 1987) that the former described as ``...perhaps the most interesting one I've ever played in my life!''; and third, it is still in print with a publication price of about $35. Its disadvantages are, first, Heyken --though an International Master in chess-- does not have an international backgammon rating, and Fischer does not have a master rating in backgammon; second, it contains only about 60% as much text as ``Backgammon'', while not being significantly terser; and third, the authors' lack of qualifications is evidenced in some of their misleading and/or naive analyses.

I think that you should search your local, or even not quite local, used/out-of-print bookstores for ``Backgammon'', and pay up to about $50 for it -- though if you find it in such a store, it is likely to be discounted to about $15; and then, if you cannot find it at a reasonable price, buy and read ``The Backgammon Handbook'' -- after which your time won't be best spent reading Magriel soon thereafter.

   [ Note:
     The Backgammon Handbook is still in print and can be ordered direct from
     the (very small) publisher:
          The Crowood Press
          SN8 2HE, U.K.
     Or from any decent bookshop. The price is UKP 15.95 ]

> are you familiar with Danny Kleinmans books,

I have read most of his ``magnum opus'' ``Vision Laughs at Counting'', which contains much sound advice on the practical aspects of bg play (e.g., sections on bg hustlers, bg cheaters, chouette money management), seminal advice on handling the doubler, and even a few unprecedented mathematical characterizations of certain aspects of certain positions (e.g., how many pips to penalize a player for having one or more checkers on the bar).

> are they good ?

``Vision Laughs at Counting'' is generally insightful and often very amusingly written, but not suitable as an introductory text, sometimes obsolete, and sometimes simply wrong; and though it is the only text by Kleinman that I have read, I have good reason to believe that that judgment applies to Kleinman's other texts, as well.

Ok; then after finishing ``Backgammon'' or ``The Backgammon Handbook'', study Jeff Ward's ``The Doubling Cube in Backgammon'' -- which has long been offered through Carol Joy Cole.

Magriel's ``Backgammon'' routinely used to be, and sometimes still is, referred to as ``the Bible (of backgammon)''; but since the publication of Robertie's three books on backgammon --i.e., ``Lee Genud vs. Joe Dwek'' (1982), ``Advanced Backgammon'' (1984 and 1991, the latter edition in two volumes), and ``Reno, 1986'' (1987)-- I think that it's more appropriate to refer to ``Backgammon'' and collectively those three as the Old and New Testaments of backgammon, respectively. Given that you have already finished studying ``The Backgammon Handbook'' and ``The Doubling Cube in Backgammon'', I think that you should read one or more books of Robertie's ``New Testament'' fairly soon after finishing Roy Friedman's ``World Class Backgammon, Move-By-Move'' -- which I, also, recently received a copy of from Carol Joy Cole, and is the backgammon book that I intend to read next.

Well, from the quality perspective, I was significantly more impressed with it when perhaps the only bg literature I had read was typical junk from the 1970s (i.e., Bruce Becker's monumentally horrible ``Backgammon for Blood'', and Barclay Cooke's often-misleading ``The Cruelest Game'' and slightly-better ``Championship Backgammon''), ``The Backgammon Book'', and Magriel's ``Backgammon''; and from the price perspective, the decision is strictly yours, though I hereby make the following three interrelated claims:

  1. If you read enough backgammon books, there will quite possibly come a time when ``Vision Laughs at Counting'' will be the best book for to read next to improve your technique maximally.
  2. You are probably at least seven books from that point: ``World Class Backgammon, Move-By-Move'', the four volumes of backgammon's New Testament, and both volumes of Kent Goulding's ``Backgammon With The Champions'' are presently better for that purpose (and you can perhaps most profitably read them in that order).
  3. ``Vision Laughs at Counting'' is the most entertaining instructional backgammon book that has been published to date.

> BTW are there other good bg newspapers or magazines ?

Last year was an unprecedentedly good one for backgammon periodicals, in that it saw the first issues of what I strongly believe were and still are the two best periodicals for backgammon theory ever --i.e., Bill Robertie' and Kent Goulding's bi-monthly ``Inside Backgammon'', and Roy Friedman's almost bi-monthly ``Leading Edge Backgammon''. The former is still being published (I recently received my copy of the fourth issue of its second volume), and publication of the latter was suspended at the end of last year (due to some personal problems that Roy was having); but it was possible to order either or both of them from Carol the last time I checked (Please inform me if you need ordering information on either or both of them).

Those are the only three backgammon periodicals to which I (have ever) subscribe(d), though that may change soon; more on that in a forthcoming e-mail message from me.

> Do you know any technical papers about BG,

One of the best features of both ``Inside Backgammon'' and ``Leading Edge Backgammon'' is they consist mostly of (what I would consider) technical papers on backgammon.

>I have read Keelers and Spencers "optimal doubling in BG"

So have I, but I have also read a paper co-authored by Zadeh, titled ``On Optimal Doubling in Backgammon'', that explicitly rendered that paper obsolete. I'll provide you with more information on both that and other technical papers from the 1970s in a forthcoming e-mail message.

> and in one AI-magazine was an article about Tesauros TD-gammon (about 20 p)

The second volume of ``Inside Backgammon'' contains about one article per issue on TD-Gammon, two of which document (recent) sessions that Robertie, Magriel, and at least one other bg master had against it; more on that, also, in an forthcoming e-mail message from me.

How to play tournament BG [book]

``How to play tournament BG'' by Kit Woolsey

This is an excellent introduction to how play and particularly cube handling varies in games. It shows how to compute push and cash points, recube equity, how to figure gammon costs, etc. It gives Kit's latest match equity chart and gives a method for remembering most of it fairly well. If you play matches games and don't immediately recognize any of these terms, I strongly suggest reading it.

-michael j zehr

Here is an outline of the book:

    0. Introduction
    1. Crawford Game Strategies
    2. Post-Crawford Play
       2.1. The Free Drop
       2.2. Mandatory Doubling
    3. The Two-Away versus Two-Away Score
    4. The Match-Equity Table
    5. Learning the Table
       5.1. The Janowski Formula
    6. Using the Table
       6.1. Gain-Loss Tables
       6.2. The Doubling Window
    7. Initial Cube-Decisions at Various Scores
    8. Redoubles and Cube-Leverage
    9. Cube-Leverage in Gammonish Positions
   10. Gammon Potential and Checker Play
   11. Five Practical Examples
   12. An Illustrative Game: Woolsey-Robertie, Reno 1993
-- John Bazigos (``doc'' on FIBS)

Backgammon (Robin Clay) [book]

Backgammon by Robin Clay $7.95 NTC Publishing Group

I was surprised to see this book for sale recently at a local book shop. This book was 'skimmed' by two intermediate players, and both immediately found that the some of the concepts and advice given were grossly incorrect. One of these 'reviewers', went as far as to say: "If your opponent says that he has just read this book, immediately raise the stakes!".


In The Game Until The End... [booklet]

In The Game Until The End: Winning In Ace-Point Endgames by Bob Watchel

You've played an ace-point game; Your opponent is down to his last few checkers. Should you run? Should you stay? If your opponent wants to settle, what's the game worth? How aggressively should you try to pick up a second checker?

If you don't know the answers to these critical questions, you need this book. In Chapter 4 alone you'll discover the secrets of the famous "Tino Road Position," an endgame so complicated that - once you know how to play it - you can take the position from either side and win. Olympiad Champion Bob Watchel has thoroughly analyzed hundreds of ace-point game positions to generate a complete picture of what's really going on in these common yet widely-misplayed situations.

Soft bound, 112 Pages. Level: Advanced and Serious Intermediate. Available from The GAMMON PRESS. US$25 + Shipping

[From a flyer from The GAMMON PRESS]

Learning From the Machine... [booklet]

Learning from the Machine: Robertie vs. TD-GAMMON by Bill Robertie

For years, computer backgammon was a languishing sideshow, with the best computer programs barely able to rise to the intermediate level.

This all changed in 1991 with the emergence of TD-Gammon, an experimental neural network program developed at IBM's research labs. TD-Gammon taught itself to play, starting with a knowledge of the rules of the game. After playing thousands of games against itself, the program reached strong Open player level; within months, it became world-class. TD-Gammon plays like a strong human player in many parts of the game. In some areas, it plays quite unlike what has generally been accepted as "correct strategy" leading increasing numbers of top players to begin to experiment with some of TD-Gammon's unconventional plays. Here is your chance to see for yourself.

Bill Robertie played two long matches against TD-Gammon as part of its evaluation process. "Learning from the Machine" is the complete account of the 31 games of the first match, with annotations by Robertie.

Soft bound, 56 Pages. Level: All. Available from The GAMMON PRESS. US$20 + Shipping

[From a flyer from the GAMMON PRESS]
[Note: This is most likely TD-GAMMON Version 1.0]

Kit Woolsey's "Tournement Series Backgammon"

In December 1994, The GAMMON PRESS announced its publication of the first three (of 18) volumes Kit Woolsey's Tournement Backgammon Series. These are text versions of Kit's instructional Match Qiz software. There are many diagrams, which means a board is not required to study the material. The typesetting is elegant. The comments are elequent.

   Book  1:  Joe Sylvester vs. Nack Ballard          150 pages US$20
   Book  2:  Philip Marmorstein vs. Michael Greiner  240 pages US$25
   Book  3:  Mika Lidov vs. Hal Heinrich             220 pages US$25

The Backgammon Book

[Authers: Oswald Jacoby and John R. Crawford]

There are many who will be quick to dismiss _The BG Book_ because it was written in 1970 and knowledge has come very far since then.

However, I recommend this book to players who are just beginning to study the game seriously because it offers an excellent overview of several central features of backgammon thinking and analysis. Although the anaysis doen't go very FAR, a reader will get clear introductions to:

  • Basic probability (how dice work)
  • Pip Counting (the basis for evaluating racing chances)
  • Doubling Cube theory (the 25% rule)
  • Settlements (useful concept even if you never settle)
  • general strategic categories (backgames, etc).

I think this book is a fine place to start, but if you hope to get anywhere you will need to follow up with some more sophisticated books. Magriel if you can find it, of course. Dwek's _BG for Profit_ is a good next step, too. Avoid Barclay Cooke's _Paradoxes & Probabilities_ and _Championship BG_, though, because those books are wrong in their evaluation of many common positions.

Good luck in your studies!

Albert Steg

Playboy's Book of Backgammon

One of my favorite books on BG is Lewis Deyong's _Playboy's Book of Backgammon_, becasue he alternates chapters on tactics and strategy with sections recounting various stories from major tournaments all over the world : California, Las Vegas, Munich, Athens, Johannesburg, Beirut.

Reading it, you get a pretty vivid picture of the BG "scene" in the 60's and 70's. You also get some understanding of how Calcutta Auctions work, and may learn some good anecdotal lessons about the psychology of the game: steaming, taking insurance, etc.

-- Albert Steg

Other Books

Other books seeking write-ups:
  • Fascinating Backgammon by Antonio Ortega, Edited by Danny Klienman, forwarded by Carol Joy Cole and Neil Kazaross (English Version)
  • Backgammon For Winners by Bill Robertie. $6.95 Cardoza Publishing
  • Costa Rica 1993 (Wilcox Snellings vs. Mike Senkiewics) by Antonio Ortega, Max Esquivel, Mario Madrigal, and Neil Kazaross (185 pages $35)

    Kit Woolsey reviewed this book in the June 95 Chicago Point and wrote that it contains the most accurate and thorough match analysis he had ever seen in print.

Danny Kleinman Books

A list of Danny Kleinman books (Backgammon)

                                                          Pages  Price (US$)
                                                          -----  -----------
   WONDERFUL WORLD OF BACKGAMMON                            132  $18
   MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE CHOUETTE                          142  $20
   DOUBLE-SIXES FROM THE BAR                                135  $19
   IS THERE LIFE AFTER BACKGAMMON?                          148  $21
   HOW CAN I KEEP FROM DANCING?                             134  $19
   THE DICE CONQUER ALL                                     228  $33
   HOW LITTLE WE KNOW ABOUT BACKGAMMON                      168  $25
   THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT                               142  $20
   ... BUT ONLY THE HOGS WIN BACKGAMMONS                    244  $37
   A Backgammon Book For Gabriel.                           144  $24
   The Long Road To Gammon.                                 176  $32

   [Note: Danny will be raising the price of his publications shorty (9507)]

D5. A List of Backgammon Articles in Science and Business

[Original list submited by Mika Johnsson] [sorted by date]

Hans Berliner: ``A Program that Plays Backgammon''
SIGART Newsletter No. 54, October 1975

E.B. Keeler, J. Spencer: ``Optimal doubling in Backgammon''
Operations Research Vol. 23 No. 6, November-December 1975

P.J. Orth: ``A Comment on "Optimal Doubling in Backgammon''
Operations Research 24, 1179 (1976)

David Levner: ``Is Brute Force Backgammon Possible ?''
SIGART newsletter No. 58, June 1976

N. Zadeh: ``On Doubling in Tournament Backgammon''
Management Science 23, 986-993 (1977)

N. Zadeh and G.Kobliska: ``On optimal doubling in backgammon''
Management Science 23, 853-858 (1977)

Hans Berliner: ``Backgammon computer program beats world champion''
Artificial intelligence 14 (1980), 205-220

Hans Berliner: ``Computer Backgammon''
Scientific American 243:1, 64-72 (1980)

An on-line summary by Dr. Berliner of his work in ai/games is found under his name at either: "

G. Tesauro: ``Neurogammon wins Computer Olympiad.''
Neural computation 1, 321-323 (1989)

G.Tesauro, T.J.Sejnowski: ``A parallel network that learns to play Backgammon''
Artificial intelligence 39 (1989) 357-390

G. Tesauro, ``Neurogammon: a neural network backgammon program.''
IJCNN Proceedings vol. III, 33-40 (1990).

G. Tesauro, ``Practical issues in temporal difference learning.''
Machine Learning vol. 8, 257-277 (1992).

G. Tesauro, ``TD-Gammon, a self-teaching backgammon program, achieves master-level play.''
Neural Computation, vol. 6, 215-219 (1994).

G. Tesauro, ``Temporal Difference Learning and TD-Gammon''
Communications of the ACM, Vol.38, No.3, 58-68 (March 1995) Jay Scott's backgammon in his Machine Learning in Games site.

D6. Where does one purchase backgammon supplies and books?


       The GAMMON PRESS (Bill Robertie)
       PO Box 294
       Arlington, MA

       PHONE:  (617) 641-2091
       FAX:    (617) 641-2660
Books, software, video, backgammon sets, precision dice, ++. The GAMMON PRESS publishes Inside Backgammon, as well as books and booklets.

Carol Joy Cole

       Carol Joy Cole
       3003 Ridgecliffe Dr.
       Flint, MI

       (810) 232-9731.


Books, software, backgammon sets, precision dice, cubes, ++. Carol Joy Cole is also the editor of the Flint Area Backgammon News.

The Backgammon Shop

        The Backgammon Shop (Backgammon Butikken)
        Gersonsvej 25
        DK-2900  Hellerup

        Tel. +45 39 40 06 07
        Fax + 45 39 40 01 44

Danny Kleinman

       Danny Kleinman
       5312 1/2 Village Green
       Los Angeles, CA

       Read Kleinman, or rely on dice.

Books on Backgammon, Bridge, O'Hell, and life.

Dansk Backgammon Forlag

       Dansk Backgammon Forlag (Danish Backgammon Press)
       Gersonsvej 25
       dk-2900 Hellerup
       phone: +45 39 40 06 07

       or contact Erik Gravgarrd at

Books, sets, dice and generel backgammon equipment. You can get all the modern books there, plus some of the old ones from the seventies, among them `Backgammon' (Magriel). Also some software.


      Crisloid INC.
      P.O. Box 2205
      Providence, Rhode Island

      tel: (401) 461-7200
      fax: (401) 785-3750
They require a minimum order of $100 to obtain wholesale prices.

Larry Strommen

       L. A. Strommen
       6866 Meadow View Dr.
       Indianapolis, IN 46226

       Tel: (317) 545-0224

Precision Dice and JellyFish sales & support, Backgammon Position Analyzer.

John Rather

A source for hard-to-find BG books.

   John C. Rather

   Old & Rare Books
   P.O. Box 273
   Kensington, MD 20895  USA
   Telephone: (301) 942-0515

John is a longtime book collector and dealer who specializes in hard- to-find out-of-print BG books. He usually has a copy or more of Magriel's ``Backgammon'' (aka ``The Bible''), for sale at a fair price. A carefully annotated book price list is available upon request. John's other book specialities are chess, magic and mountaineering.

D7. An index of backgammon resources available on the Internet.

   By Site:
     The backgammon newsgroup. Articles, problems, and information
     about the game of backgammon are discussed daily in this group. 4321
     The First Internet Backgammon Server (FIBS)

      The backgammon faq.
      Mirror of the backgammon FAQ in the UK. Thanks Stephen!
     Stephen Turner's World Wide Web backgammon page.
     WWW page of the Norwegian Backgammon Federation.

     New England Backgammon Club home page (under construction).
     Paal Fladstrups Index of Backgammon files.
     Paal's Backgammon Page.
     BACKGAMMONSIVU WWW page in the Finnish language
     Marco Lau's Backgammon-Seite (German and English)

     Michael Quinn's Guide to FIBS.
     Asger Kring's (Albatross) backgammon page.
     Mark Damish's FIBS help document.
     David Eggert's page, which includes announcements and results for his
     FIBS tournaments.
    Stephen Turner's compilation of backgammon clubs around the world.

     Patti Beadles backgammon page: A central repository for backgammon
     related information, and Patti's personal playground.
     FIBS T-shirt info.
    Backgammon glossary.
     Spider's BG glossary.
      Jargon File 3.0.0 - backgammon
     Equity Tables for different gammon rates and player strengths.

     Jay Scotts machine learning in games web site.
      Back issues of the FIBS Rating Reports.
       Back issues of the FIBS Rating Reports.
     A list of backgammon resources around the net.

      Morten Daugbjerg's homepage, which includes the bearoff program BGOUT
      "Backgammon Match Play Doubling Strategy" By Tom Keith.
      "How to Compute A Match Equity Table" By Tom Keith.
      A web page bearoff analyzer (BOA)

      Mark's (A differant Mark) Backgammon Page. Upgrade MacFibs to include
      Outland Backgammon
      Games - BEERgammon
      Gareth McCaughan: programsGareth McCaughan: programs (Bearoff program)
      Some Backgammon Things.

      FIBS/W web page.
      funk's Backgammon links. matchqiz.exe Match Qiz demo for DOS. Self extracting. kvj_*.ps.gz Kit Woolsey vs. Jeremy Bagai match. Postscript format. Typeset by (Joerg Richter) File Name Type Notes ------------ ---- ----------------------------------------------------- 00-index.txt A File that contains this message. bg-faq-ptr A Location of the backgammon FAQ (ASCII version). bg-faq.ascii A ASCII version of the backgammon FAQ bg-faq.html A Hypertext version of FAQ. Read online, or save from your browser to read offline. bg-matches D Directory containing backgammon matches. bg-rules.html A Backgammon Rules in formated hyper-text. bg_1.0.tar.gz B Joerg Richter's LaTeX style & font for documenting backgammon positions and games. blot D A New [9511] Backgammon program for DOS. boa_v11.exe B Bearoff program. Gives cubeless probability of winning, and best move for up to 15 checkers on each side in the home board. Shareware. B Walter Trices Bearoff Quizmaster Demo. (MS-DOS) exbgdemo.sea B Demo of Expert Backgammon for the Macintosh. Change type to "APPL", creater to "aust" would a .hqx (binhex) be better? fibshelp.html A Formated HTML of FIBS help screens. AUG 94 kw_jb.tar.Z B Kit Woolsey vs. Jeremy Bagai match. Text version. B MS-DOS demo of 'Match Strategist'. pubeval.tar.Z B Gerry Tesauros backgammon 'benchmark' function. race.tar.Z B 2 bearoff programs: 'race2' & 'race4'. No makefile. B Robin Davies DOS port of rfibs and sfibs. tiny-fugue text interface to FIBS. xfibs08 X interface to FIBS. TkFibs X Tk/Tcl interface to FIBS. fibsw MS Windows interface to FIBS. xibc-X.XX.tar.Z X Tcl/Tk/Expect interface to FIBS. ftp /info-mac/game/brd/mac-fibs-10.hqx MacFIBS Mac interface to fibs. ftp /pub/users/sret1/backgammon/ bg2fig Board description to fig converter. matches Backagmmon matches. printmatch FIBS `oldmoves' to ascii bg boards converter. psboards --> bg2fig ftp /pub/spitz/bg/ bg.tar.gz FIBS recording/playback tools. ms vs. Snoopy match annotated by Kit Woolsey, TD-Gammon, and JellyFish. ASCII and postscript versions. The postscript version looks great! FIBS oldmoves to TeX converter by Peter Fankhauser. Requires Joerg Richters bg.tex package. Peter Fankhauser's collection of problems from A weak shareware backgammon program for windows. TD-Gammon, the program, for OS/2

Section E: MISC.

E1. What other games can be played on a backgammon board?

  • Acey-Deucy
  • TricTrac
  • Jacquet
  • Moultezim
  • Plakoto (Portas)
  • Fevka (spelling?)
  • Narde
  • Gioul (Turkish variation)
  • Nackgammon
  • Cubeless, one point backgammon games.
  • Many versions of `diceless' backgammon.
  • Hyper-Backgammon
  • On some boards, you can flip it over, and play checkers or chess. :-)


   From: (Michael A Urban)
   Subject: Re: 3-Checker Hyper Backgammon
   Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1993 02:23:24 GMT

Each side starts with 3 checkers on their respective 24, 23, and 22 points. The cube is in play. Jacoby rule in effect. Matches will start at 7 points and work their way up in later rounds. All other normal backgammon rules apply.


From: (Rolf Kleef) at SMTP-Post-Office 10/15/93

Nackgammon: The same as backgammon, but with a different starting position: instead of five men on both your midpoint and 6-point, you just put four there. The remaining two men end up at the 23-point:

       13 14 15 16 17 18       19 20 21 22 23 24
      +------------------------------------------+ X:
      | O           X    |   |  X           O  O |
      | O           X    |   |  X           O  O |
      | O           X    |   |  X                |
      | O                |   |  X                |
      |                  |   |                   |
     v|                  |BAR|                   |
      |                  |   |                   |
      | X                |   |  O                |
      | X           O    |   |  O                |
      | X           O    |   |  O           X  X |
      | X           O    |   |  O           X  X |
      +------------------------------------------+ O:
       12 11 10  9  8  7        6  5  4  3  2  1

This was invented by Nack Ballard (hence the name), to force his bg students to practice positional play. Games tend to be much longer, since you can't easily start a race with a 65 or 66 opening-phase roll. In July this year, we hosted the first European Championship Nackgammon during our series of Kater Cup tournaments. Teun Ruardy from Groningen, The Netherlands became the first EC Nackgammon!

[What are the cube and gammon rules for Nackgammon?]


From: 1/24/95
Subject: Tapa (yet another kind of backgammon)

The word "tapa" means "bottle cap" and it's an apt name because one seeks to block out the opponent's pieces. The starting position is as shown below

             13 14 15 16 17 18       19 20 21 22 23 24
            |                  |   |                OOO|
            |                  |   |                OOO|
            |                  |   |                OOO|
            |                  |   |                OOO|
            |                  |   |                OOO|
     O     v|                  |BAR|                   |
   moves    |                  |   |                XXX|
    this    |                  |   |                XXX|
    way     |                  |   |                XXX|
            |                  |   |                XXX|
            |                  |   |                XXX|
             12 11 10  9  8  7        6  5  4  3  2  1

The move direction and game objective are the same as in BG. There is one important difference:
Blots (single men) are not taken out when hit. Rather, the opponent's man rests on top of the blot and thus forms a point. Points can also be formed in the usual way, by placing two or more of your men at the same slot.

If you leave a blot at your home slot (1 or 24) and it gets covered, you certainly lose a backgammon (unless your opponent has done the same, in which case it's a tie).

A long doublet (5 and 5 or 6 and 6) in the initial stage of the game can be very useful because usually the opponent would have some blots in their home quadrant and you may cover them. The closer this happens to their home slot, the better, because the later you will free the blot when you are bearing off.

Tapa is very much a game of strategy. Even if you get caught very close to your home row, you may be able to force the opponent to free it by blocking enough of his men, so that he doesn't have any other move. During most of the game it better to move SLOWER rather than faster. Primes are not necessarily useful, eg when the opponent has enough space for short moves behind the prime.

If nobody gets caught in the early stage, the two players try to advance their men in "almost primed" formations. Then the passing-through of the two armies can be a rather dramatic clash.

Tapa is quite popular in Bulgaria. In fact people play three games --BG, Gul Bara, and Tapa-- in a row. The cube isn't used and there are no backgammons (although there are gammons, called "mars"). I think these games (or at least the names) have come to Bulgaria from Turkey. Some people (esp. the older ones) use Turkish names for the rolls, eg "shesh-besh" is "6 and 5". I'd say backgammon is the favorite recreation of Bulgarian pensioners.

Gul Bara is similar to Narde (the actuall name is Nardy where "y" signifies the Russian letter "ery" as in "byk" (bull)), but double rolls are very powerful, eg if you roll 1 and 1 then you get to move 4 ones, 4 twos, 4 threes, ..., 4 sixes.


From: (Vincent Zweije)

In Kazachstan, and probably Russia too, people play a game called "Narde" on a backgammon board. It is also played with 15 checkers each, in the following starting position (point numbering is taken from backgammon).

         O's side

          13 14 15 16 17 18       19 20 21 22 23 24
         |                  |   |                OOO|
         |                  |   |                OOO|
         |                  |   |                OOO|
         |                  |   |                OOO|
         |                  |   |                OOO|
        v|                  |BAR|                   |^
         |XXX               |   |                   |
         |XXX               |   |                   |
         |XXX               |   |                   |
         |XXX               |   |                   |
         |XXX               |   |                   |
          12 11 10  9  8  7        6  5  4  3  2  1

         X's side

Do to language problems I never got a formal introduction to the game. I'll have to write down the rules out of my head. It is played like backgammon, with the following exceptions:

    1: Both players move in the same direction.  X moves from 12 down to
       1, then to 24 and down to 13, and finally off; O moves from 24 down
       to 13, then to 12 and down to 1, and finally off.

    2: A point is already made with one checker on it.  There is no
       hitting in the game.

    3: Doublets are not special.  If you roll 3-3, you get to move a
       checker three pips twice.  Possibly the same checker.

Bearing off is like backgammon. Moving is mandatory when possible. I don't know whether, like in backgammon, you have to move the higher of the dice if you have to choose. It never happened during actual play.

The game is almost fully one of chance. The main thing is to take care not to get blocked by a six-point prime (already made with six checkers in a row!).

[ There seems to be quite a few games with this starting postion, going the same direction, where 1 blot is a blocker, and there is no hitting. The rules vary with how many may be in a row, doubles, and starting criteria. It seems to be a game where 'blocking' is the predonimant strategy. Some games have double games, triple games, quad games, depending upon what quadrant the opponent has his remaining checkers in. I've never seen this played in the USA. ...Mark ]

Diceless Backgammon

    From: igor@krest.kharkov.ukraine.ussr (Igor)
    Subject: Re: Diceless Backgammon?
    Date: 27 Mar 92 00:48:51 GMT
    Organization: Society of connoiseurs of female beauty

In fact, there's a version of backgammon, which is much more popular than regular bg in USSR, especially in Azerbajdzhan and Uzbekistan.
Main features are following:
  • both players go same direction ( namely counterclockwise )
  • starting position is different
  • you're not allowed to hit ( which changes strategy a lot).
And, as far as I know, there are tournaments, where people play this version without dices, i.e. calling their rolls. Consequently, there exist time control in this tournaments.


In this game all the men start off the board. They enter and move around the board in the same way as men sent home in regular backgammon. In other words, the white men enter in black's home board and move around through black's outer board and white's outer board until all are gathered in white's home board; then white can start to bear them off. Black enters his men in the white home board and moves around in the same manner.

Rules are the same as for backgammon, except that you can move any man you want to at any time, whether or not you have men to bring in. In addition, the roll of 1-2 -- acey-deucy -- is an especially valuable roll. You begin by playing your ace-deuce. Then you play any number four times (in other words, you pick any double you wish). Then you get an extra roll. and if this extra roll is also 1-2 you get the same extras with it.

Early game strategy in acey-deucy is to try to establish advanced points as quickly as you can, and if possible also establish adjacent points as base for a prime. If both sides develop primes right smack up against one another, the advantage lies with the prime that is farther advanced. Even if the man with the farther-advanced prime has to break his first, he will probably win the game; if he can hold his prime longer, he almost surely will win.
Credit: The Backgammon Book, Oswald Jacoby/John Crawford

My own comments: Acey-deucy is a fun game, with a much greater element of luck or chance than regular backgammon. 1-2 rolls are deadly. You are never out-of-it right to the end. The pace is fast and furious (at least compared to regular backgammon -- which, incidentally, I still prefer, but Acey-deucy makes a nice change of pace once in a while). One key point of strategy -- block your opponent from a play of 1 or 2 if you can. This opportunity only occasionally presents itself, but watch for it. If you can't play your lowly 1-2, you lose the bonus double and extra roll.

Acey-Deucy typed/submitted by Peter Nickless

One Point Matches

This variant is played the same as `regular' backgammon with two exceptions; the cube is not used, and gammons/backgammon don't exist. This often leads to very strategicaly played games, where a back-game is more of an option than in the regular version since staying back forever never leads to losing more than one point. Since all games are played to to completion, `slime vigorish' to turn a game around suddenly occurs more frequently since you cannot cube your opponent out.

Why play `one point matches'? Well, similar games occur all of the time in tournament play. Double match point, and crawford to an even score are examples.

One point matches have been labled the `Crack' of backgammon at the New England Backgammon Club (NEBC), and the opium of the game by others.


From: (Igor Sheyn)
Subject: Re: Greek Backgammon
Date: 4 May 1995 14:10:31 GMT

OK, here's the attempt to put down a complete set of rule for the game called feuga in Greek.

Equipment: Backgammon board, 15 checkers for each player, 2 pairs of dice ( we play it with 1 pair, but let's keep it to bg as close to possible )

Initial checkers setup: Each player has all of his checker on the same point.

   24 23 22 21 20 19  18 17 16 15 14 13

    1  2  3  4  5  6   7  8  9 10 11 12
Direction: Both players move counter clock-wise. Using numeration above, O moves from 1 to 19-24 quater, which is his home. X moves from 13 to 24 and then continues 1 to 7-12 quater, which is his home.

Goal: Bring your men home and bear them off as in backgammon.

Main difference from backgammon: Hitting is not a part of a game, hence the point is considered made when there's only 1 checker on it ( no blots and slotting in this game ).

Various aspects: the initial point for each player ( 13 for X, 1 for O in the setup above ) is called "head". A player is allowed to move only 1 checker from his head per roll. If he can't obey this rule on any given roll, he can't play his roll fully. Exception: if your 1st roll of the game is 6-6 or 4-4, you're allowed to play 2 checkers off your head, 1/7(2) with 6-6 and 1/9(2) with 4-4.

Priming: there's one restriction on building a 6prime. You can build a 6prime only provided there's at least one opposing checker ahead of your prime. E.g., if you want to build your prime from 1 to 6 as O, X has to have at least 1 checker anywhere from 7 to 12. This rule is to prevent trivial strategy of building 6prime right in the beginning and then just rolling it home.

Gammon: Gammon is counted in same way as in BG. Backgammons do not count ( as far as I know ).

Cube: No cube is used ( this can be easily fixed though ).

If u have any questions or if u think I left smth out, please let me know.


Greek/Turkish variation called ?

From: (Ed "Cynwrig" Dengler)
Subject: Re: Greek Backgammon

As taught to me by my uncle (who is a Greek):

Setup: All 15 of your men start on your 24 point (farthest point from your bearoff).

Initially: Each player rolls 1 die, whoever rolls the highest uses both dice to move. Play alternates with each player rolling two dice.

Movement and bearing off is the same as standard backgammon. The big difference in Greek backgammon is that you never 'hit' an opponent's checker and send it to the bar. Instead, you 'trap' the checker under your own. Your opponent is not allowed to move his checker until you uncover it. In addition, the trapped checker acts as one of your own to form a blot (ie. equivalent to two checkers of your own colour on a point).

Because of the trapping rule, if you manage to trap an opponent's checker in your bearoff quadrant, you can pretty much force a gammon, unless you get trapped yourself and are forced to break the trap first. Also, backgammons are much more common than in regular backgammon.

E2. How does one become a better player?

[Suggestions/articles from ALL levels sought for this space]

[Edited from a message about proper cube handling. ...Mark]

Always play backgammon for affordable but meaningful stakes. This is surprisingly important. If you play "just for fun" you'll take doubles "to see how they'll turn out" and win some of those games anyway, giving yourself incorrect reinforcement. Likewise you'll drop doubles you should take because "you dont' feel like playing it out." If something is riding on the game, you're much less likely to do that. In short, it hones the senses and makes you think about the cube all the time. There is also definite penalties and rewards for correct cube action.

Practice practice practice.

-- michael j zehr

I think the first step in becoming a good player is to realize what a game backgammon is. Many people think they're unlucky when they lose, and don't realize that it is actually also a game of skill.

The first thing I learned from backgammon was to lose, even from the most incredible positions. You shouldn't spend your energy whining about your bad rolls, spend it on making good moves (and cube decitions!) instead.

Other than that, it's simple to describe how to become a good backgammonplayer: Study, and read all books you can get your hand on. If you go to a club or a tournament, watch the good players. One of my friends did that a lot when he started. Also, don't be afraid to ask strong players questions about a move you made, a move HE made or something like that. Most of the strong players are very friendly when people ask them about their opinion.

You can also record matches. This can be matches between two good players, or you can have ask a friend to record one of your matches. There's a big difference in what you can learn from the former compared to the latter.

I played a tournament in Chicago in '92 and recorded a couple of matches, one between Rick Barabino and Dean Muench. Afterwards I went through the match myself, and noted the plays I would certairnly not have made myself. I asked Dean Muench about why he did this and that, and he explained it in a very logical way to me. He asked me which flight i played in, I answeared 'Intermediate', and he said 'You won't be that for much longer if you keep studying like that!' I was also lucky to get an extremely interesting game in that match.

If you get one of your friends to record your match, you get a chance to analyse your own play. This can particularly helpfull if you do it a while after the match has played, to see how (if) your game has evolved.

-- Asger Kring

But a must if you want to reach a high level of backgammon skill is to build a positions database. Study positions, and remember as many benchmark positions as you can. The most costly mistakes are bad middlegame cube actions, and the more benchmarks you have available, the better your equity estimates can be, and the more accurate will be your related match-equity calculations. Also, the less time you have to spend grunting and sweating over equities, the more time you'll have for figuring out your opponent--and you'll just have more energy, which is at a premium in long tournaments or money sessions.

--Marty Storer

Just study and play. What else is there?

-- Roy Friedman

One last thing: someone remarked that the best way to learn bg was to play and observe on FIBS. I might argue. Get a hold of the matches Heinrich sells. Go through them. Many times. Roll out positions. Try and see the line of thought behind a play. Second only to playing countless hours, those matches were some of the most useful studying I've done.

-- Kim Scheinberg

Exerpts from `A Talk with Paul Weaver' by Walter Trice from `Anchors' (The New England BACKGAMMON CLUB Newsletter) Oct 1994

[Paul Weaver was rated number 1 on Kent Goulding's International rating list in June 1992, and June 1993.]

WT: What do you have to say to the up-and-coming intermediate who has decided that he is absolutely determined to win the 1996 World Cup? What would he have to do?

PW: Well there's no way that he can ENSURE winning it without cheating. Even if you're the best player in the world the chances that you're going to win this tournament are actually quite small.

WT: Okay, let's just say that he wants to give himself a damn good shot at it.

PW: Well, first of all he needs to be in excellent shape physically. You need to have a lot of stamina. If you're in good enough shape to go out and run 5 miles a day, then you're probably in good enough shape to play. Stamina is a very important ingredient of success in this kind of tournament, and if you look at Sylvester and Horan, both of them have a lot of stamina.

In addition to stamina, technical knowledge is important, so how do you get to be a good player technically? Read the newsletters, read the books including Kit Woolsey's MATCHQIZ material, and start doing all you can to analyze positions and roll out positions. When I say roll out positions, I don't just mean feed them to your computer, I mean sit down and move the checkers yourself. When you roll something out yourself you learn an awful lot more than just the raw numbers. You get an insight into the variations that develop in the position, and you start figuring out for yourself what checker strategies work and what strategies don't. You see fluky ways that you can lose the game, and when you start seeing them over and over again, you realize that maybe they aren't so fluky and that you should find ways to prevent them. So my advice to any intermediate who wants to improve his game would be to get your hands dirty and do some work and roll out positions. When I did this my game began to improve immensely.

WT: You've certainly rolled out a lot of positions. How many is it at this point?

PW: Well, the number has got to be over a thousand.

WT: Do you think it's important to actually play?

PW: Oh sure. Rolling out positions by itself is not going to make you a good player. It's important to play, and also to play the strongest competition available. To play in the toughest tournaments that you can, and to play heads-up sessions with the strongest players that are available. Play for enough to make it meaningful.

WT: So it's read, roll out, play. Plus jog.

PW: More than jog -- I would say run. Get yourself in good shape. Diet and rest are also important.

WT: How much time do you devote to backgammon during the average week? Is it like a full-time job?

PW: Well, I suppose it is. It varies -- sometimes very little, sometimes as much as 40 or 50 hours. But lately my life has changed and with all the travelling I'm doing and being in Brazil, I don't spend nearly as much time rolling out positions. And I've decided that my time has come to stop rolling things out and start playing the game for real. But I constantly review my material. I have close to 1000 reference positions.

WT: So you don't see yourself having any more major improvements in your game? You've just about "got it?"

PW: No! Not by a long shot. For one thing, the computer software... I believe that within a few years someone is going to come up with a piece of software that will nail down the equity of any backgammon position to within 1/100 of a point. It's conceivable that it has already happened.

WT: You think maybe there's a perfect backgammon machine out there?

PW: Not just one. Enough different people are working on it that there's a good chance that this thing will be solved by more than one person. And since a lot of people are working on it it won't be kept a secret for long. And when this tool becomes available I'll learn a lot, for example about backgames. I'll learn whether it's true that different match scores will affect your opening plays and responses. We'll get all the openings and responses nailed down, and pretty much all the 3rd roll things will be committed to memory.

What is it that makes the better player better? It is his ability to play through a full game making fewer mistakes than the weaker player.

From a posting to by Kit Woolsey

IMHO, FIBS is the single best learning took for backgammon right now. Hang around, play, watch better players... you can't help but improve your game.

Patti Beadles

I have personally developed my skills in backgammon partly by reading the available literature, but also by playing fairly high stakes money games.

One of the single most developing activities has been my money game session with another Danish player. We have invoked our own very special rule that sharpens your game considerably and hence improves your performance.

The rule is:
In case of any cube action -
Any player has the option of demanding the other player to accept a proposition to be played five times.
For instance:
Peter doubles me. I drop. Peter thinks that I should have accepted. Now he can demand to be paid one point five times, each time setting up the same position with him accepting i.e. he owns the cube on 2.

With this rule in effect you have to consider any cube action much more in depth, because you also have to consider the other side. And also there will be no "cheap" drops where you might want to "play it safe" on the score sheet. A drop that really is a take can prove very costly indeed.

For my friend and myself it has been a very efficient learning tool as well as a great gambling add-on to normal backgammon.

--- Erik Gravgaard

While I'd agree that watching good players is a useful part of learning, I doubt that there is any substitute for playing many many many games. Most really strong players are people who spend many hours at a (real) backgammon table, playing for $ both head up & in chouettes. Reading good books can help a great deal, but the knowledge in them doesn't really become "your own" until you have put it into uses over the course of hundreds/thousands of games. Because there are many different criteria (racing chances, shot equity, timing, prime architecture, etc.) to bring to bear on any given play, it is difficult to learn how to the *weight* of the various considerations from reading alone. Experience develops your feel for what is most important in a given situation. After reading the fundamental books, and perhaps taking notes on the bits you find "new & useful," I'd spend 5-10 hours playing to one hour studying. Write down interesting positions that arise when you play and study them, perhaps rolling them out by hand later. Play in chouettes as often as possible, in which you are neither the strongest nor weakest player. Learn from your betters, and earn from your lessers. Wonderful as it may be in many ways, I still think FIBS is a "second best" playing option -- you just don't get as many games per hour played. -- Albert Steg

E3. Kent Goulding's International Backgammon Rating List

Kent Goulding maintains the International Backgammon Rating list for Backgammon. Copies are available for $5 from:
Kent Goulding
9201 Marseille Drive
Potomac MD

E4. Misc.

Apparently it is possible to receive and post to newsgroups via E-mail. Send mail to Put "help" in your message. You will receive a reply explaining how you can subscribe to all Usenet messages that contain a particular keyword or list of keywords in them. (Dragomir R. Radev)

Netnews@stanford is good for reading Usenet by mail.

To post to rgb you need the UTexas mail-to-news gateway send mail to " and this will post to r.g.b.

-- Radev

Subject: access to r.g.b. without a news server
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 1995 09:42:16 -0500

This is a test post. If this appears in r.g.b., I have found a working gateway for posting news via email. See my backgammon page at for links which allow people to read r.g.b. without a news server and to post to r.g.b. via this gateway.

-- Spider