Backgammon Books

  The Backgammon Book

  AUTHORS: Oswald Jacoby
John R. Crawford

  YEAR: 1970
  PUBLISHER: A Studio Book, The Viking Press
  CITY: New York
  SBN: 670-14409-6
  BINDING: Hardcover; also softcover
  PAGES: 224
  SIZE: 26 cm high, 19 cm wide

     "Recommended for any player who has not read a book on backgammon. This treatise is the foundation for all good play in the game. Although conservative in its approach to game strategy, one should digest this material before reading about aggressive play."—Butch Meese, January 1984


     "'The first work on backgammon to approach the game from an analytic point of view,' writes Robertie. On top of that distinction, it is also the best all-round introduction to the game, with chapters on backgammon's history, chouette play, settlements, the running of tournaments, and etiquette—topics hardly touched upon in backgammon literature thereafter. Although it doesn't actually contain all that much analysis, that which is there is surprisingly accurate by modern standards."—Jeremy Bagai, in Classic Backgammon Revisited, March 2001


     "This is by far the best book I have read on backgammon. It is especially good for the beginner being simply written, but at the same time giving a excellent introduction to strategy and statistics. It also contains an good history of backgammon, and a complete set of rules for both standard backgammon and variations like 'acey-deucy' and chouette. The authors are well qualified both Jacoby and Crawford won several international backgammon tournaments—and Oswald Jacoby was on the committee that first wrote down the rules of backgammon in 1931."—Patrick Wilken, August 1991


     "There are many who will be quick to dismiss The Backgammon 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 analysis 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%" concept, and basic "equity" idea), general strategic categories (backgames, etc), chouette rules (these are largely outdated, given that these days most of us play with "separate cubes"), settlements (useful concept even if you never settle), and points of etiquette (for those who still think manners are a part of good life)."—Albert Steg, September 1994

INTRODUCTION:  The History of Backgammon
1. FOR BEGINNERS:  Equipment. The Setup of the Game. The Object of the Game. Preliminaries to Play. Starting to Play. Cocked Dice. What Constitutes a Play. Points. Primes. The Moves. Blots. The Bar. Entering from the Bar. Bearing Off. Winning. The Early Game.
2. THE OPENING MOVE:  Table of Opening Moves. Table of Opening Moves for Doublets. Discossion.
3. THE REPLY TO THE OPENING MOVE:  General Strategy. Replies to Typical First Moves.
4. BASIC PROBABILITY:  Introduction. Table 1: Combinations of the Dice. Table 2: Probability of Entering from the Bar. Table 3: Probability of Hitting a Blot. Table 4: Probability of Getting the Last One or Two Men Off.
5. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF PLAY:  Taking Chances. Early Development. Splitting Your Back Men. Hitting Two Blots. Blot-Hitting Contests. Contact. The Running Game. Preparing for the Running Game. Bearing Off. How to Bear Off.
6. COUNTING THE POSITION:  When to Count. Alternate Ways to Count. Counting the Number of Turns Left. Doubling and Redoubling after Counting the Number of Turns Left.
7. DOUBLES AND REDOUBLES:  Automatic Doubles. Regular Doubles. Procedure. How to Figure the Odds. Plus Expectation. Minus Expectation. When to Make the First Double. A Paradox. The Position of the Cube. When to Double, Redouble, Refuse, and Accept. Table 5: The Approximate Odds in Your Favor When It Is Your Roll in a Running Game and There Is Little or No Positional Advantage. Table 6: Should You Double? The Psychology of the Double.
9. SOME LATE POSITIONS:  The Closed Board. Breaking Your Board. Enemy Men on Your One Point. Holding One Point in Your Opponent's Board. Holding Your Opponent's One Point.
10. THE BACK GAME:  Playing Safe. The Semi-Back Game. The Full Back Game. The Nothing Game. Being Gammoned. When to Get into Back Games. A Typical Back Game. Som Back-Game Positions. The Order of Preference of Back-Game Points.
11. UNUSUAL PLAYS:  Hitting a Man on Your One Point. Hitting Two Blots in Your Inner Board. The Unnecessary Exposure. Hitting Two Men. Advanced Bearing-Off Tactics.
12. CHOUETTE:  How to Play. Special Problems in Chouettes. Buying Out a Partner. Preempting. Doubling to Get One Man Out. Settlements in Chouettes. Drop-Takes. The Box May Take a Pertner. A Great Settlement Story.
13. SETTLEMENTS:  Ignoring Settlements. How to Figure Proper Settlements. Midgame Settlements. Increasing the Stake. Beavers.
14. HOW TO RUN A BACKGAMMON TOURNAMENT:  Elimination Matches. Rules. International Backgammon Tournaments. Consolation Flights. Beginners' Tournaments. How to Vary Your Play in a Tournament. The Crawford Rule. Playing for Gammons. Playing Your Opponent. Round-Robin Play. Interclub Tournaments. Duplicate Tournaments.
15. THE OFFICIAL LAWS OF BACKGAMMON:  The Game. The Throws. The Play. Errors. Scoring. Chouette.
16. POSTSCRIPT TO THE LAWS:  VARIATIONS OF PLAY: No Backgammons. No Gammons in Undoubled Games (the Jacoby Rule). Suggestions for Chouettes. Extra Starting Doubles (Optional Rerolls). Initial Double Dice. Limitation of Doubles. Technique of Double-Dice Play. Duplicate Backgammon.
17. OTHER FORMS OF BACKGAMMON:  Eureika. Blast-off. Moultezim. Acey-deucy. Plakoto. Gioul. Summary.
  COVER: Here is the basic and authoritative book on how to play backgammon—for fun and for money—and how to win. Easily played by a ten-year-old, backgammon has also challenged great game-players for over two thousand years, and never more than today.
      Now two of the world's greatest players have written the most complete and up-to-date guide yet, certain to become the one essential book for both novice and expert. Illustrated with almost a hundred large, clear diagrams, the book provides a step-by-step account of how to play, from setting up the board and the crucial opening moves, to the finer points of the middle and end game, and much more. Chapters discuss: the opening move; the reply to the first move; general principles of play; some early game problems; some late positions; the running game; the back game; unusual plays; Chouette; etiquette; playing the alternatives; doubles and redoubles; basic probability; the official laws of backgammon (including new laws formulated in collaboration with the International Backgammon Association—published for the first time); and how to run a tournament. Throughout there are many illustrated step-by-step sample games and analyses, revealing crucial points of strategy by two master players. Included also is a long introduction on backgammon's ancient origins and long history, and there are amusing and revealing stories about some modern games and players. Rare prints and drawings, pictures of antique and modern tables and boards, and candid photographs of today's leading tournament players accompany the text.

Oswald Jacoby and John R. Crawford are very good friends and through the years have been amiable rivals in a variety of games. At backgammon there are seven international championships: Jacoby has won three, Crawford one. Both still play. Crawford has also won the Regency Cup championship. At one time, Crawford held five national bridge titles, and Jacoby was second to him in four of them. Crawford has also been a member of three of the five American teams to win the world's championship. Jacoby has won the world's championship once and is at present nonplaying captian of the world's championship team, which includes his son James, with whome he also writes a bridge column. He has won more national bridge championships than anyone else. At other games, Jacoby will admit that Crawford is probably the best gin-rummy player in the world. But Jacoby is probably superior at casion and piquet. When it comes to bridge and backgammon, neither will concede to the other, but no one will do well against them if they play as partners.
      Both authors have written other game books. Some of these are: (for Crawford) How to Be a Consistent Winner in the Ten Most Popular Card Games, Crawford's Contract Bridge, How to Win at Canasta, Playing Canasta, and Samba, and (for Jacoby) How to Win at Canasta, Oswald Jacoby on Gin Rummy, How to Figure the Odds, Mathematics for Pleasure. Jacoby's most recent previous book is Jacoby Modern—A System for the Seventies, written with his son.

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