Forum Archive : Books

Heinrich & Woolsey: New Ideas in Backgammon

From:   Craig E. Groeschel
Date:   23 September 1998
Subject:   Re: Losing Streaks
Google:   6ub4rc$

Andrew Bokelman wrote:
> Advanced Backgammon Vol. 1 by Robertie, and How to Play Tournament
> Backgammon by Woolsey -- unless someone here has strong feelings that
> these are not good books to read next.

_Tournament_ is a (relatively) short monograph that shows how
cube handling changes in match play vs. money play.  It is
_the_ source for the match equity table.  It also goes into
detail on how sometimes gammons matter; sometimes not.
Highly statistical, highly technical, lots of math, although
the math is the sort that uses _numbers_, so it's not all that bad. :-)

On the other hand, I think you should also consider _New Ideas..._
by Woolsey and Heinrich.  It is a collection of 100-odd problems
with analysis by Woolsey and rollouts by JellyFish.  All checker
play, no cube actions.  I found the commentary useful not only
in and of itself, but on a meta-level because it showed so many
different ways to analyze positions, and it helped in developing
a technical vocabulary for thinking about a position.
(Although sometimes I wonder if the arguments were contrived
to support the rollouts, but the intro to the priming section
makes me think they're least not always.)

As a 1650-plus player, your needs might be different from mine
(I've just clawed my way back to 1500 yay!), but I think a better
value than _Tournament_ would be _New Ideas_ by Woolsey and Heinrich.
It's twice the price, but I think more than twice the value.

See also the reviews on
Craig E. Groeschel >Craig at Metro Link dot com< Not speaking for my
employer. "Do not play this piece fast.  It is never right to play Ragtime
fast."  Joplin

Chuck Bower  writes:

Reminds me of trying to choose between sugar and honey (and no, I
don't mean the decision between your wife and your mistress  ;)
Seriously, although both "...Tournament BG" and "New Ideas..." are
excellent books, my feeling is that having not read (and absorbed)
Robertie's "Advanced BG" indicates that a student would be ahead
of him/herself to work through "New Ideas".  I think Andrew's original
plan (buying "Advanced BG, volume I" and "Tournament BG") is a better
one.  "New Ideas" could really throw a person into a tailspin because
it is really about "where experts screw up" or "exceptions to rules-
of-thumb".  If you were to build your game around these problems
WITHOUT a solid basis in the fundamentals (as provided by Magriel and
Robertie), you might never recover.  Sorta like picking up a calculus
book before you learn algebra....

     "Tournament BG" is good for anyone who plays matches.  However,
a solid understanding of money doubling strategy may be a prerequisite.
I would opt for buying BOTH of Robertie's volumes and ABSORBING them
first.  (They cover a LOT of money cube decisions.)  Then get "Tournament
BG" and finally, after getting about a good year's worth of experience
playing (and using the ideas in theses books), ask for "New Ideas" for

     (Sorry, Kit.  I may have just killed a couple royalty payments....)

   c_ray on FIBS
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