Wonderful World of Backgammon,|
by Danny Kleinman.
Available for $18 direct from the author, 8924 Hargis Street, Los Angeles, CA 90034.
Danny Kleinman's most recent book, Wonderful World of Backgammon, reveals secrets of advanced backgammon technique not contained in the author's earlier works. If your backgammon library already includes Vision Laughs at Counting, I strongly recommend that you acquire this new book as well.
Most of the book is written in the format of letters to Miss Lonelyblots, the ever-faithful consellor to the "Dice-Lorn." Though the letter writers vary in ability, their typical attitude is one familiar to every player. They all feel that Lady Luck has done them wrong, since players obviously weaker than themselves beat them by, in their eyes, getting lucky. Miss Lonelyblots is usually able to show how, by making the correct plays in the situations they show, they could have won with the dice that followed.
Several technical articles on general subjects are interspersed with the letters on specific problems. These articles contain useful information, but many readers will either not learn it at all, or will fail to appreciate the limitations imposed by the methods of derivation used and so will apply it imperfectly to game situations. The reader whose eyes glaze over at the sight of mathematical formulae would be well advised to use the articles' conclusions with caution unless he has gone through and understood the calculations.
The book is not entirely technical. It also addresses the tricky subject of mental attitude — of how to approach the game. In addition, it details many cheating techniques in order to alert the unwary player to these pitfalls.
Kleinman's earlier book, Vision Laughs at Counting, included an article on the so-called Kauder Paradox — the positions where it is supposedly right for one side to double and the other to beaver. Readers of LVBGM will recall seeing this matter discussed ad nauseum there in the past year. In this book, Kleinman tempers his stand on the Kauder Paradox, saying it is permissible to double if your opponent won't beaver. Even Bill Robertie might agree with this more moderate view.
In the sequel to VLC, Danny presents some "quizzes" purportedly written by the more colorful personalities at his club. His introduction to that section of the book includes this statement: "I hope my fondness for these characters reflects itself in the warmth of my portrayal of them." His portrayals in that book are mildly satirical, but obviously all in fun.
Not so those of the Wonderful World of Backgammon. The first eight letters in this book display none of the former "fondness." The somewhat bitter overtones present may be due to improved observation on the author's part of some of the winning players' methods. Then again, it may be that hard times and backgammon inflation (too many hustlers chasing too few pigeons) have eroded those players' ethical standards. As one of the fictional letter-writers points out, circumstances alter character.
This book has its humorous moments, too. For instance, "Bean's Law" is discussed quite frequently in much detail. I rather like this new law, which states that every player is entitled to throw double fives at least once per game. But, as the inimitable Miss Lonelyblots points out, one doesn't always get everything to which one is entitled.