Backgammon Books

  Backgammon: Winning
With The Doubling Cube

  AUTHOR: Peter Bell
  YEAR: 1997
  PUBLISHER: The Gammon Press
  CITY: Arlinton, MA
  ISBN: 0-880604-10-8
  BINDING: Softcover
  PAGES: iv+196
  SIZE: 23 cm high, 18 cm wide
In 1995, Peter Bell posted a series of articles to explaining the basic concepts of cube handling in backgammon. After many positive responses and encouragement of The Gammon Press's Bill Robertie, Bell turned the articles into a book. For more information about this book, see the author's own web page.

     "I'm excited to hear that Peter Bell's book has been published. Peter is, or at least was, USRobots on FIBS. He's a strong intermediate player, though certainly not open level or world class. But he has a great analytical mind and is an excellent writer."—Kevin Bastian


     "This book looks at doubling cube fundmentals: when to double (and when not to), how to evaluate winning chances in a position, when to take, and the psychology of doubling. Bell provides a number of benchmark positions for typical games types and goes on to describe how to change your play depending upon who owns the cube. He also looks at the difficult problem of evaluating blitzes, backgames and prime vs. prime positions by the use of formulae."—Chris Bray, in What Colour is the Wind?


     Some of the stuff in Bell's book is really neat. I like his way of thinking
of cashers instead of market losers. I'm not sure how much work he has put into the tables of casher sequences and the win percentage needed to double. I don't use his tables, but I think it's the right way to think about the doubling decision.
      However some of the positions he shows are just misanalysed. He gets
things wrong. His evaluations methods are totally unusable. Blitz-count, Prime-count, Timing-count and whatever-count. It's just too simple to have any practical value at all. They do a fine job for positions he shows, but for any other position the methods are just crap."—Řystein Johansen


     "The first part of this tome is a rehashing of essential information that you will already possess if you have been playing for a while and been doing some research. This book covers methods for evaluating a position, which is the essence of cube strategy. There are some, (many very basic) benchmark positions given. I would have liked to have seen more benchmark positions analyzed first with application of the evaluation techniques presented and then compared with in depth roll outs of the positions. I enjoyed the book, I thought it was very useful."—Robert Scibellii


     "This is not a good book. It is a bad book. Most of the discussion of basic concepts and theory (like pip counting, take points, doubling points, etc.) is pretty good. The positions that he uses to illustrate the concepts are very often misanalyzed. Apparently no one associated with the book checked the positions with a bot, or even showed the positions to a strong player. It's really ridiculously bad. There are positions called too good that are beavers, and vice versa."—David Montgomery


     "The good aspects of the book are: (1) It is well structured and organized; things are explained clearly (even a bit repeatedly, but it does not matter). (2) It presents well the notion of take point, and value of cube ownership. Also, it explains very well how to determine when to double, what is the doubling point and the doubling plane, and when to play for the gammon and when not.
      But then, there are the formulae for backgammon positions. These are not to be read. One should stick with the cube handling concepts in this book."—André Nicoulin


     "The theory of the doubling cube has lagged far behind checker play analysis, since it is a very difficult subject to get a firm grip on. Peter Bell makes an excellent effort to attack this thorny problem.
He explains the mathematical concepts involved, and backs them up with many positions which are good illustrations. In particular, he attacks the problem of when to double with accurate and lucid explanations which far exceed anything which has previously been printed on this subject.
      While many of his concepts are open to question, Peter has done the groundbreaking for future analysis of the problem."—Kit Woolsey, Flint Area BackgammoNews, January/February 1998

1:  Doubling Cube Fundamentals
2:  Cube Decisions: The Basics
3:  Estimating Winning Chances
4:  When to Take
5:  When to Double
6:  The Doubling Cube in an Imperfect World
7:  Common Types of Games
8:  Pulling It All Together
9:  Cube-Influenced Checker Play
10:  Doubling Principles: Myth and Fact
About the Gammon Press
About the Author
  COVER: Backgammon: Winning with the Doubling Cube is the first book from the Gammon Press devoted entirely to the proper use of the doubling cube. Players have long understood that mastery of the cube is the key difference between top pros and struggling amateurs. In this book, Peter Bell explains the secrets behind the doubling strategy of the masters. He shows how to evaluate positions, when to double, when to take or drop, and how to adjust your cube strategy to take advantage of your opponent's weaknesses. Winning with the Doubling Cube is a groundbreaking book that should be part of every player's library.

Peter Bell has had a lifelong interest in competitive games. After a successful chess career, including winning the New York State Chess Championship in his age group, he turned his attention to backgammon. He is well-known on the Internet, where he plays against other backgammon experts from around the world. A graduate of Harvard University, Peter is currently working as a product manager in the computer software industry. He lives in Cupertino, CA. [See the author's personal web page for an updated biography.]

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