Book Suggestions

Forum Archive : Book Suggestions

Best books from the bot era

From:   Chuck Bower
Date:   6 November 2007
Subject:   Best BG book list

We've had quite a few BG books come out in the last 10 years or so. Which
(if any) are classics?  Here's an exercise. Break the backgammon community
into five groups:

1. Beginner
2. Intermediate
3. Advanced
4. Open
5. Top 100

Name one "best" book for each category. Go ahead and name backups if you
like, but please state which is your first choice in each category.

Matt Cohn-Geier  writes:

Beginner:     "Backgammon" by Magriel.

Intermediate: "Backgammon Boot Camp" by Trice.

Advanced:     "Modern Backgammon" by Robertie. ("Advanced Backgammon" by
              Robertie is probably a good segue before "Modern

Open:         "New Ideas in Backgammon" by Woolsey and Heinrich.

Top 100:      Do such books exist?

I wrote about my experience with BG books in a long thread which is now at The relevant paragraph is:

I read "Backgammon Praxis" (excellent), "Modern Backgammon" (excellent),
"Backgammon with the Giants: Neil Kazaross" (good), "Boards, Blots, and
Double Shots" by Wiggins (good), "Understanding Backgammon" (decent),
"Tournament Backgammon" by Woolsey (mediocre), "Can a Fish Taste Twice as
Good?" (too math-theoretical for my taste), the "MatchQiz" series by
Woolsey (decent), "Vision Laughs at Counting" vol. 1 by Kleinman (okay, but
disappointing), and "New Ideas in Backgammon" (excellent).

Since then, I've read "Reno 86" and "Lee Genud vs. Joe Dwek", which are
both pretty good books, but match analyses from the pre-bot era are
something else. I forgot to give mention to Jeremy's "Classic Backgammon
Revisited", which was also very good. "Can A Fish Taste Twice as Good?" has
grown on me. I read "Vision Laughs at Counting" vol. 2 and "Double Sixes
from the Bar", and Chris Bray's "Second Wind". I may come back to Kleinman
because he seems to be the only person who discusses chouettes. And I've
read Nack and Paul's book, "Backgammon Openings Book A", which is pretty

So, I'll keep my eyes open for Top 100 level books, which I would love to
have, if I knew of such things. Also, if anyone has or knows of any Ortega
books (Fascinating Backgammon, Costa Rica 93/94, Jerry Grandell), I'd
really like to read those.

Philippe Michel  writes:

Beginner:     Magriel's "Backgammon". There are probably good, more recent,
              beginners books, but are they really better than it?

Intermediate: Magriel's "Backgammon". As a backup, "Advanced Backgammon",
              mostly for the basic double reference positions. Maybe
              Woolsey's "Encyclopedia" would be better for this (I haven't
              read it).

Advanced:     "Boot Camp". Everybody else seems to put it in the
              intermediate category, but I think that most of the book is
              quite advanced, or at least introductions to quite advanced

Open:         "Modern backgammon". As a backup, the last 2 (maybe 3) years
              of "Inside Backgammon".

Top 100:      I'm not qualified to answer. Probably none. I don't think the
              difference between open tornament players (how many are
              there?) and top 100 is related to their respective reading.

Mislav Radica  writes:

Great, I like this question!  There is at least three main kinds of books
in backgammon: Books with annotated matches, books about doubling cube and
other backgammon books (mostly problems books). Maybe we should choose the
best books from those three groups for all your categories.

Where do we put the Ballard/Weaver book about Backgammon Openings? It is
for all levels from high intermediate and up, so I'll put it in Open

Since I am somewhere between "advanced" and "open", I will not consider
which books are best for Top 100 players. I have no idea.

I don't think books from before the bot era are appropriate reading
nowadays.  From my experience they only distract your game. Maybe after
reading all the best books from bot era one can start to read old books
with Bagai book in one hand and some bot in other. Magriel's Backgammon,
Robertie's Advanced backgammon, Orthega's Costa Rica match books, Kleinman
are all excellent books but I think it is important to get right the modern
way of play first.


1. Chris Bray: Backgammon for Win
2. Kit Woolsey/Patty Beadles: 52 great backgammon tips
3. Paul Lamford: Starting Out In Backgammon
4. Bill Robertie: Backgammon for Winners
5. Bill Robertie: Backgammon for Serious Players (match book)


1. Walter Trice: Backgammon Boot Camp
2. Bill Robertie: 501 Essential Backgammon Problems
3. Antonio Orthega/Danny Kleinman: Backgammon With the Giants (match book)
4. Kit Woolsey/Tami Jones: Understanding backgammon
5. Norm Wiggins: Boards, Blots and Double Shots


1. Bill Robertie: Modern backgammon
2. Marty Storer: Backgammon Praxis (match books)
3. Kit Woolsey: Backgammon Encyclopedia Vol I (cube book)
4. Jeremy Paul Bagai: Classic Backgammon Revisited
5. Kit Woolsey: How to Play Tournament backgammon


1. Kit Woolsey/Hal Heinrich: New Ideas In Backgammon
2. Nack Ballard/Paul Weaver: Backgammon Openings Book A
3. Antonio Orthega/Danny Kleinman: Cubes and Gammons Near End of Match
4. Paul Lamford/Simon Gasquoine: Improve Your Backgammon
5. Bob Wachtel: In the Game Until the End

Mislav Radica  writes:

Best Books from the Bot Era.

There is no good short list of books which doesn't suffer from some fault.
Here are the books that I think are the most significant books of the bot
era.  The bot era runs from approximately 1995 when Jellyfish first
appeared. A good source of books, listed according to the year of
publishing, can be found here:

Here is my list:

1. Walter Trice: Backgammon Boot Camp (2004).

   While this books is suitable for intermediate players, there is full
   agreement that it is more advanced, so I put it as the first book one
   should read among these eight. You can find everything here. Checker
   play, many cube reference positions. Especially valuable chapters are
   those about cube handling in backgames and chapters about match play.

2. Bill Robertie: Modern Backgammon (2001).

   Best book by Robertie and the most accurate. It is only about checker
   play for money. There is also a comprehensive annotated match between
   Grandell and Ballard. It is interesting how Robertie explains the
   reasons behind modern bot-like play.

3. Kit Woolsey: Backgammon Encyclopedia, Vol I (2002).

   This book desperately needs Vol II, which the author announced after
   publishing. I don't know if this is still planned, but the BG community
   needs more reference cube positions which this book proudly presents in
   it's whole content.

4. Marty Storer: Backgammon Praxis, Vol I&II (2005)

   The best book(s) with world class matches. With great graphical
   presentation, players' comments, and extensive rollouts, the setup is a
   new standard for such books.

   I also like Kit Woolsey's special annotated 21-point match between Ken
   Arnold/Kit Woolsey and Nack Ballard/Harvey Huie in 2001 Pro-AM Semi-
   finals which can be find here:

   All the OLM matches, with Kit's comments and Snowie rollouts are
   recommended too:

5. Nack Ballard/Paul Weaver: Backgammon Openings, Book A (2007)

   We have been waiting a long for this book. Along with upcoming volumes
   from the same series, it will be invaluable material.

6. Jeremy Paul Bagai: Classic Backgammon Revisited (2001).

   This problem book is significant because it corrects the biggest errors
   from classic books and I recommend you use along with a bot when you
   plan to read the classics.

7. Kit Woolsey/Hal Heinrich: New Ideas In Backgammon (1996).

   Definitely the most advanced practical BG book. Still very accurate
   nowadays if you know that authors used Jellyfish rollouts. Excellent
   explanations by Kit. Problems are exceptions to the usual rules of thumb
   and they are taken from real matches as errors which world class players

8. Antonio Ortega/Danny Kleinman: Cubes and Gammons Near the End of the
   Match (1997).

   Book completely devoted for cube handling in matches. Kit Woolsey's "How
   to Play Tournament Backgammon" is about same topic but much shorter. We
   still wait for great book about cube handling in matches which will
   increase level of play for many advanced and open players.
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     


Book Suggestions

After Magriel  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen+, Aug 2000) 
Annotated matches  (Walter Trice, Jan 2000) 
Best books from the bot era  (Chuck Bower+, Nov 2007) 
Best next step  (Gregg Cattanach+, July 2002) 
Bibliography  (Carl Tait, Apr 2000)  [Long message]
Books for advanced players  (Edward D. Collins, June 2003) 
Books for serious players  (Douglas Zare, Feb 2003) 
Books on match play  (Keene Marin+, Sept 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Buyer's guide  (Chuck Bower, Feb 1998) 
How to read backgammon books  (Gary Wong, Jan 1998) 
Ideal book on backgammon  (Laury Chizlett, Apr 2000) 
Informal book survey  (Chuck Bower+, Dec 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
John Bazigos's suggestions  (Mika Johnsson, July 1993) 
Magriel, Robertie, and Kleinman  (Gregg Cattanach, May 2000) 
Marty Storer's reading list  (Larry Hunter, May 1992) 
Recommended Backgammon Books  (Butch Meese, Jan 1984) 
Survey of some available books  (William Hill, Jan 1998) 
Three underrated books  (Mary Hickey, July 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
What's a good second book?  (Tommy+, Dec 2000) 
Which book by Chris Bray should I buy?  (Timothy Chow+, July 2012) 

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