After my initial post about observer, enough has changed that a second
post seemed warrented. The main item is the free availability of the
I've recently been running a FIBS client program which logs onto FIBS
with the name 'Big_Brother'. Several people have asked me about the
program; hence this post.
Big_Brother (name changed from 'observer' by popular demand) is a
computer program, which runs as a client to FIBS. Its purpose is to
log matches played on the server. It currently searches for matches
played between the top 150 players, and then watches the match,
recording the it to disk.
Why record matches?
-- To make available freely, matches played between good players.
-- I like to watch backgammon matches almost as much as playing them.
There is much to be learned about the game from watching matches,
expecially amoungst top level players. Since I rarely have enough
time to log onto FIBS and watch matches, observer records matches
much the same way a VCR records programs when you are unable to
see them. I now also get to see matches played between players
whom I've never met on FIBS, due to time-zone differances.
-- It will be interesting to construct match equity tables between
players of less than world class ranking. It will also be interesting
to construct tables for players of differing levels (read ratings)
-- The creation of Big_Brother is also an exercise in itself. I'm using
tools that are very unfamiliar to me to create a useful tool,
which of course could lead to another useful bg tool in the future.
What about distributing the matches via the net or a CD?
Matches are available via anonymous ftp on Patti Beadles ftp
site: ftp.gammon.com in the directory /fibs/matches/. Directory
9508 contains matches for August 1995, 9509 for September 1995,
A complete set of the previous months matches will also be stored on:
The file 9509.tar.gz will contain all of the recorded matches for
How can I play these matches back?
The matches are in an 'oldmoves like' format, which is the output
of the program 'rfibs'. The matches may be played back with the
program 'sfibs' which is available for both ms-dos and unix.
The output may also be run through Peter Faukhauser's program which
will produce LaTeX output, compatable with Jeorg Richtors LaTeX
backgammon style and font. The location of these programs may be
found in the FAQ. Hopefully some one will write a nice graphical
playback program, as well as programs that translate the output
from the FIBS 'oldmoves-like' format, to something a little more
What is the filenaming convention?
951002 Date in yymmdd.
1209 Time in hhmm. 24 hour clock. eastern US time.
mklein.1792.98 Invitee name, his/her/its rating, and rank on FIBS.
ElDope.1777.121 Inviter name, his/her rating, and rank on FIBS.
.5 A 5-point match.
.fibslog Some sort of match from FIBS.
.db Match is an 'oldmoves like' format, output from the
program 'rfibs', which may be played back with 'sfibs'.
A possable useful ms-dos 8.3 name for the above file might be
What does and doesn't Big_Brother log?
Currently Big_Brother will watch any match between two top 150 rated
players who are playing a 1-11 point match. There is also a mloner
switch, for ignoring mloner matches. These paramaters can
be changed with a simple gui front end for the program. It is
important to note that ALL kibitzes, says, and whispers are discarded,
since the purpose of the program is to log matches, not converstaion,
even though the converstion might be useful when looking at the match.
I REALLY don't want my match recorded for ANY reason.
Type "blind Big_Brother". I encourage you not to, as I would like a
wide selection of players for constructing match equity tables.
Why call it Big_Brother?
I wanted to name it "eyeball", but the name was already in use! The
program was initially tested with the name observer, and the name
stuck after a few days. Several people, including Albert Steg and
Walter Trice _strongly_ suggested calling the program Big_Brother,
and the name was permanately changed.
I'd like to run my own Big_Brother too. Is the code available?
Sorry, the code is not available.
Any other questions, comments or suggestions?
Please send any correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org