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Backgammon Books

Recommended Backgammon Books

Here are some suggestions of good backgammon books to read. They include my own favorite books along with recommendations of others. (You can get more detailed information by clicking on the title of any book.)

 
  Introductory Books

There are many good introductory books for the game of backgammon. The books listed below are all easy to find, not very expensive, and will give you more than just the rules of the game and basic strategy.
 
 
The Backgammon Book
Oswald Jacoby & John R. Crawford

Written by two top players of the day, this book ushered in the backgammon craze of the 1970s. It is still an excellent all-round introduction to the game, with chapters on backgammon history, chouette play, settlements, etiquette, and information on how to run tournaments.
 
Backgammon for Blood!
Bruce Becker

This is one of the most popular books of the 1970s, and also one of the most controversial. Much of Becker's advice is considered off-base by today's standards, but his engaging, vigorous writing style draws you in. It's a fun read.
 
Backgammon, The Cruelest Game
The Art of Winning
Barclay Cooke & Jon Bradshaw

Another fine introductory book from the 1970s. Cooke and Bradshaw lead you through everything you need to know to play a good game of backgammon. There's even a chapter on psychology.
 
The Amazing Book of Backgammon
Jon Termaine

This book is beautifully illustrated in colored diagrams on glossy paper. Tremaine takes you through all the basics of the game. The book includes a humorous section on methods of cheating.
 
Backgammon for Winners
Bill Robertie

A complete discussion of the basics of play with a modern perspective. This book, now in its third edition, takes you through several sample games. The advice is more accurate than many other books for beginners.

 

  Books for Intermediate Players

You know how to play backgammon and now you are ready to raise your game up a level. These books are for players who want to study the game more seriously.
 
 
Backgammon
Paul Magriel

A thorough introduction to backgammon strategy and tactics, this book is often referred to as "The Bible" of backgammon. Magriel presents the fundamental concepts of backgammon in lucid text supported by examples constructed to illustrate specific themes. You can expect to pay as much as $50 for this widely sought-after book.
 
Backgammon Boot Camp
Walter Trice

An excellent complement to Magriel's Backgammon. Like Magriel, Trice's book covers a broad range of topics, giving the reader a solid explanation of the game's fundamental concepts. The book is quite strong in some areas where Magriel is weak, such as the doubling cube. It is a "must have" for any serious student of the game.
 
501 Essential Backgammon Problems
Bill Robertie

Robertie's best book for intermediate players. Each of the 31 chapters has an introduction giving general guidelines about a specific area of the game, then follows up with problems illustrating the concepts.
 
Starting Out In Backgammon
Paul Lamford

The prose is easy to read and the contents logically structured. Each chapter is peppered with handy Tips, Warnings, and Notes which summarize the important points in memorable bites.
 
Backgammon for Profit
Joe Dwek

Dwek teaches many of the same concepts as Magriel except that he uses a problem format. One hundred and twenty-one problems are presented, each slightly different than the one before so you can see how subtle changes to a position affect the correct play.

 

  Books for Advanced Players

The books in this section are best not tackled until you have a solid grasp of backgammon fundamentals.
 
 
Classic Backgammon Revisited
Jeremy Paul Bagai

This is a book of 120 problems from famous backgammon books that were analyzed wrong by their original author. Bagai gives the correct answer and why, and discusses under what conditions the author's reasoning would be correct.
 
New Ideas In Backgammon
Kit Woolsey & Hal Heinrich

Heinrich and Woolsey have assembled a collection of positions that top human players got wrong in actual tournaments. They point out the expert's error, then show what play should have been made and why. These are very tricky positions, and the final answer is often counterintuitive, but the commentary is great.
 
Advanced Backgammon
Bill Robertie

Robertie organizes and explains many high-level backgammon concepts in this collection of 400+ positions (counting both volumes). These books are expensive, but the analysis is deep and extensive. As with other books written before the computer era, you might want to get computer rollouts for the positions to see what advice is perhaps not quite on target.
 
Modern Backgammon
Bill Robertie

Another excellent book from Robertie. In Modern Backgammon, Robertie explores the concepts taught to us by the new strong computer programs.

 

  Annotated Matches

Books of annotated matches show complete, real games from beginning to end with commentary on why certain moves were made or why a given move may have been an error. Unlike books of problems, these books give you a sense of the flow of the game. By their nature, annotated matches include positions from all phases of the game and every level of difficulty. These books are fun to read as problem books: you cover up the actual play and commentary until you have decided yourself how you would play and why.
 
 
Backgammon for People Who Hate to Lose
Tim Holland

A great book for beginners. Holland's informal writing style leads you, move-by-move, through the thinking and psychology of seven actual games. In a few places the advice is outdated, but if you're new to backgammon you'll enjoy this book.
 
Backgammon: Master versus Amateur, Volume 1
Kit Woolsey

A transcript of the first online match between Kit Woolsey and the readers of GammOnLine. Woolsey's annotations are terrific--there is something here for everyone.
 
World Class Backgammon Move by Move
Roy Friedman

This book is hard to find, but the analysis is terrific. Friedman takes a very scientific approach; he put a lot of work into rolling out many of the diagrammed positions.
 
Matchqiz Series
Kit Woolsey

Three classic books by the game's best match annotator: Joe Sylvester vs. Nack Ballard, Mika Lidov vs. Hal Heinrich, and Philip Marmorstein vs. Michael Greiner. Woolsey is great at explaining the salient points of each position. You will learn something every time you pick up one of these books.

 

  Collected Articles

Books of collected articles are great because you can pick them up any time and read a few articles without becoming too deeply absorbed. Of course there is a limit to the depth of discussion an author can put in a limited size column. Also, books of separate articles tend to not to be as orginized as a book that is written all at once. Still, there is much in backgammon that is well-suited to short articles, and these books are fun to read.
 
 
Backgammon, An Independent View
Chris Bray

This book (and Chris's follow-up book, What Colour is the Wind) contains a nice balance of articles for beginners, intermediates, and experts. In addition to basic instruction, there are product reviews, and articles on the history of the game.
 
Vision Laughs at Counting
Danny Kleinman

Kleinman is a prolific writer and this is just one of his many books. His articles cover both social aspects of the game (chouettes and tournaments) and technical aspects. He has developed many of his own terms and metrics for explaining different features of the game mathematically.

 

  Books on Cube Handling

The doubling cube is such a big part of backgammon that it is rather surprising more books haven't been written on the subject. The reason could be that it is a difficult to give solid criteria for when to double and when to take—this may be an area best learned from experience.
 
 
Winning With The Doubling Cube
Peter Bell

Bell's book looks at doubling cube fundmentals: when to double (and when not to), how to evaluate winning chances in a position, when to take, and the psychology of doubling. While it is a good general introduction to the doubling cube, some parts of the book are not very accurate.
 
The Backgammon Encyclopedia, Volume 1
Kit Woolsey

This is a book of 210 reference positions of "typical" situations you might be in when considering turning the cube. The idea is that by understanding what features make these positions strong enough to double, or strong enough to take, you will be better prepared when similar positions come up your games.
 
Backgammon Boot Camp
Walter Trice

While not a book devoted to doubling, Backgammon Book Camp has many chapters that deal with cube handling. It contains perhaps more useful information on this topic than any other book.

 

  More Information

Many book suggestions have been posted to the newsgroup rec.games.backgammon. See:

Besides books, you can get a lot of useful information from backgammon magazines. Two particularly good online magazines are:

 



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