Forum Archive : Books

Ball: Alpha Backgammon

From:   James Takahashi
Date:   9 May 1994
Subject:   Worst BG Book? (was Re: Becker book)

All this Becker-bashing got me wondering about what would be the
consensus absolute *worst* bg book?  I recall having read a book
(also in the mid to late 70's) titled "Alpha Backgammon" which
still makes me chuckle when I recall it.  It was purportedly
written by a former world bg champion (although his name
escapes me)-- the aspect which makes it my "worst ever" candidate
was that it instructed the reader how to use a meditation
technique to influence the rolls of the dice!  It even included
strategy for what dice to wish for in various situations.

Albert Steg  writes:

Now *there's* a hilarious book.  The author is "Baron" Vernon Ball, and I'd
love to know where he earned his "World Champion" title as advertised on
the cover. I think he's still around because Carol Joy Cole mentions
running into him at a tournament in the Carribean or somewhere, and that
she was able to get a stock of this out-of-print book for all of us
collectors out there.  (I think it costs $10).

The book is the only one I 've seen, though, that offers advice in
positions that we often regard as completely beyond help.  for instance, in
the bear-off with two checkers on one's own ace-point and an opponent on
roll with a checker on the ace- and three- points, Ball encourages us:

"X does not sit idly by and accept as fact that he will lose.  X
knows that 2-1's do appear and that he knows how to help make a 2-1 appear
more often than probability.  X visualizes a 2-1 on his mental screen and
concentrates while O is rolling the dice. . ." (p.186)

Yep, this book has it all.   Chapters on psychokinetic ability, meditation
techniques, and and appendix of various drugs and their effect on your
playing ability (actually, I know some people who need to read that


Bob Bishop  writes:

May 2007

The Barron is/was the greatest.  A gentleman and a competitor he was a
pleasure to play with.  It is my belief that he had the ability to do
what he said.  When you played him in a tournament or in a money game it
was an experience and always in the back of your mind was could he really
do it!  I never rolled more 1's in bear-offs than I did with him.  (I
think I played him either four or five times).  Concerning psychokinetic
ability, meditation techniques just ask David Liebwoitz and Russell Sands.
Up to 2007 they probably won the two largest (in money & players)
tournaments in BG history.  They were both believers in psychokinetic and
meditation techniques.

In addition "The Barron" owned one of the great Hotels and Restaurants in
all of the Caribbean, Hotel 1890.  It is in St. Thomas and I spent
several days there in either the late 80's or the early 1990's.  They had
BG boards in the Hotel and my only regret was "the Barron" was not on the

I am glad I came across this web site; it reminds me of the time when
players were gentleman, the parties were great, the girls and locations
were exotic.
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