Forum Archive :
Tips to improve cube handling
It is a new year resolution to try and improve my cube handling. I was
hoping some expert readers here would have a few tips. According to the
overall stats from ExtremeGammon my checker play is trending upwards and my
cube play is trending downwards! A few questions
a) Would I be right to assume that for the good players on this forum there
would be a much closer level of skill between their checker and cube play?
b) What would be likely reasons for my checker play to be improving over
time and my cube play getting worse?
c) Would I be right to concentrate first on trying to find out why I didnt
spot those doubles that according to ExtremeGammon I missed?
d) Any general tips for improving cube handling?
All the best for 2010.
David Rockwell writes:
The first thing you need to do is to divide your mistakes into two
1. Positions you get wrong because you don't know the cube action for
2. Positions you get wrong where you know the money cube action but fail to
adjust properly to the match score.
I favor the approach of learning the basic money cube actions and treating
match adjustments as a separate subject. You need to know which of these
two are causing you the most problems before you try to make a correction.
David Levy writes:
First, see David Rockwell's comment. Next, when you are ready to focus on
match score adjustments, I'd suggest breaking down the categories (wrong
double, missed double, wrong drop, wrong take) by match score.
When I returned to BG in 2000 or so after a 15 year layoff, I was
consistently missing doubles when trailing 4-away 2-away and 3-away 2-away
and was taking too much when ahead x-away 4-away. It was a quick adjustment
and led to a moderate drop in error rate, but a huge increase in matches
Klaus Evers writes:
If you can, get the book "Cube and Gammons near the End of a Match"
Get the book "The Backgammon Encyclopedia Cube Reference Positions"
Read "The Five Point Match By Kit Woolsey,"
Collect all the positions where you made a big cube mistake. You will find
systematic errors on a regular basis (for me: tons of missed doubles when I
trail in a match!)
These are the things that helped me, and I hope you will find them helpful
Matt Ryder writes:
I'm no cube expert, but here are some pointers anyway:
* Switch to playing money games initially. The complexities of the cube AtS
tend to throw one off.
* Develop (and memorise) a collection of cube reference positions.
Woolsey's Backgammon Encyclopedia is a great place to start. Bart Brooks
produced a useful set of flashcards covering 3rd roll dance and bearoff
* Read Backgammon Bootcamp by Walter Trice.
* Study cube theory. Bell's Backgammon: Winning with the Doubling Cube is a
nice resource (although some of his metrics in the latter half of the book
should be taken with a pinch of salt).
* Familiarise yourself with the backgammon/gammon/win breakdowns in your
bot of choice. My biggest cube blunders occur when I over-/under-estimate
the impact of gammons.
As many have already suggested here unless you have a good grip on
according to score play I'd steer clear of match play initially. Solidify
your money game cubes playing the bots on their higher plies first in my
opinion. While play against humans is essential if you're striving to
improve your own cubes playing a bot is more effective because you will see
when it is and isn't doubling and that will give you more material to
reference whereas if you're playing a human you're still seeing sloppy play
on a regular basis and anything they do is questionable.
Once you have a strong grip on money game cubes I'd branch out into the
shorter matches that one is accustomed to playing online. I think someone
else referenced Kit's 5 point match article and if you happen to be a
member of gammonvillage I'm in the midst of doing a series of all important
scores up to at least -5 -5.
- 1-away/1-away: advice from Bernhard Kaiser (Darse Billings, July 1995)
- 1-away/1-away: advice from Stick (Stick+, Mar 2007)
- 1-away/1-away: and similar scores (Lou Poppler, Aug 1995)
- 2-away/3-away: playing for gammon (Tom Keith, Feb 1996)
- 2-away/4-away: Neil's rule of 80 (Neil Kazaross, June 2004)
- 2-away/4-away: cube strategy (Tom Keith, Dec 1996)
- 2-away/4-away: practical issues (Mark Damish, Jan 1996)
- 2-away/4-away: trailer's initial double (Kit Woolsey, Jan 1996)
- 3-away/4-away: opponent's recube (William C. Bitting+, Feb 1997)
- 3-away/4-away: racing cube (Bill Calton+, Nov 2012)
- 3-away/4-away: tricky cube decision (Kit Woolsey+, July 1994)
- 3-away/4-away: what's the correct equity? (Tom Keith, Sept 1997)
- 4-away/4-away: take/drop point (Gary Wong, Oct 1997)
- 5-away/11-away: redouble to 8 (Gavin Anderson, Oct 1998)
- 7-away/11-away: volatile recube decision (Kit Woolsey, May 1997)
- Both too good and not good enough to double (Paul Epstein+, Sept 2007)
- Comparing 2-away/3-away and 2-away/4-away (Douglas Zare, Mar 2002)
- Crawford rule (Chuck Bower, May 1998)
- Crawford rule (Kit Woolsey, Mar 1997)
- Crawford rule--Why just one game? (Walter Trice, Jan 2000)
- Crawford rule--history (Michael Strato, Jan 2001)
- Delayed mandatory double (tem_sat+, Oct 2010)
- Delayed mandatory double (Donald Kahn+, Dec 1997)
- Doubling when facing a gammon loss (Kit Woolsey, Jan 1999)
- Doubling when opponent is 2-away (David Montgomery, Dec 1997)
- Doubling when you're an underdog (Stein Kulseth, Dec 1997)
- Doubling window with gammons (Jason Lee+, Jan 2009)
- Free drop (Ian Shaw, May 1999)
- Free drop (Willis Elias+, Oct 1994)
- Gammonless takepoint formula (Adam Stocks, June 2002)
- Going for gammon when opp has free drop (Kit Woolsey, Jan 1998)
- Going for gammon when opp has free drop (Kit Woolsey, Apr 1995)
- Holland rule (Neil Kazaross, Apr 2010)
- Holland rule (Kit Woolsey, Dec 1994)
- Leading 2-away with good gammon chances (Douglas Zare, Feb 2004)
- Match play 101 (Max Urban+, Oct 2009)
- Matches to a set number of games (Tom Keith+, Oct 1998)
- Playing when opponent has free drop (Gilles Baudrillard+, Dec 1996)
- Post-crawford doubling (Scott Steiner+, Feb 2004)
- Post-crawford doubling (Maik Stiebler+, Dec 2002)
- Post-crawford doubling (Gus+, Sept 2002)
- Post-crawford mistakes (Rob Adams, Sept 2007)
- Post-crawford/2-away: too good to double (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, July 2004)
- Slotting when opponent has free drop (onur alan+, Apr 2013)
- Take points (fiore+, Feb 2005)
- Tips to improve cube handling (Lucky Jim+, Jan 2010)
- When to free drop (Dan Pelton+, Oct 2006)
- When to free drop (Tom Keith+, July 2005)
- When to free drop (Gregg Cattanach, Dec 2004)
- When to free drop (Kit Woolsey, Feb 1998)
- When to free drop (Chuck Bower, Jan 1998)
- Which format most favors the favorite? (Daniel Murphy+, Jan 2006)