Backgammon Books

  New Ideas In Backgammon

  AUTHORS: Kit Woolsey
Hal Heinrich

  YEAR: 1996
  PUBLISHER: The Gammon Press
  CITY: Arlington, MA
  ISBN: 0-880604-08-6
  BINDING: Softcover
  PAGES: 336
  SIZE: 23 cm high, 18 cm wide

     "Kit Woolsey and Hal Heinrich have assembled a collection of problems that tests the ability of even the best human players, yet provides instructive lessons for everyone from beginner to expert. All the positions in the book are taken from actual tournament matches in which a top expert made an incorrect choice. Only those problems which were able to stump most on a panel of eight experts were included in the book. In each case, the correct play has been verified by an elaborate series of computer analyses using the neural net Jellyfish.
      The authors have drawn on their vast experience to provide you with the theoretical framework behind the often counter-intuitive plays. It's fair to say that New Ideas in Backgammon stretches our understanding of the game more than any other book in recent years."—Kate McCollough, October 1996


     "New Ideas In Backgammon 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 not ... at least not always.)"—Craig Groeschel, September 1998


     "The material is exceptional in all respects. The problems have been systematically selected to give experts fits—in each case, a majority of 11 experts failed to find the correct move. The correct moves have been validated by extensive human and computer analysis, so this book doesn't have the "error rate" that other books have. The authors are world-class players and world-class teachers of backgammon, so the writing is clear and crisp. A fantastic book."—Brian Sheppard, July 1999


     "The commentary goes through all the major alternative moves for each position, showing their advantages and disadvantages. Each problem also comes with an excellent summary that explains the general principles behind the selected move. At the end of the book is a table showing the experts' decisions, with their equity estimates. The book is divided into seven sections, grouping the problems into such categories as running anchors, pay now/pay later, blitzing and priming. An excellent read, very instructive, and useful to intermediates and experts alike."—Steve Pickard


     "After elaborate screening, including submitting several hundred plays to a panel of experts, Hal and Kit collected the 104 problems treated in their new book. The format is simple, with all the best features of a problem book. Each position is pictured as Kit devotes a page or two to describing the candidate plays. The problems are tough.
      Kit's approach has always been to explain the thought process that allows you to arrive at the correct answer, building argument upon argument until he has constructed a solid case. This time, he has to look at Jellyfish's answer and find ways of dismissing the alternate plays until only Jelly's choice remains.
      This book more than lives up to its billing. I would not recommend it to beginners. Kit's style is clear enough that they will easily grasp his arguments, but beginners need to ground themselves thoroughly in the basics. This book will fill their head with exceptions. For everyone else, from advanced intermediate to expert, it is a must read. The more expert you are, the more certain it is that you need a copy on your shelf."—Jake Jacobs, Flint Area BackgammoNews, November/December 1996


1:  Assets and Liabilities
2:  Anchors Aweigh
3:  Hold the Fort
4:  The Blitz is On
5:  Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later
6:  Scrambling Home
7:  Prime Time
Rollout Results
About the Gammon Press
  COVER: New Ideas In Backgammon is the first collection of backgammon problems that has been extensively verified using computer analysis. Assisted by the neural network technology of the world's top backgammon program, Jellyfish, Kit Woolsey has assembled a collection that tests the ability of even the best human players. Each of the 104 problems is taken from an actual tournament match in which a world-class player made a serious error. Woolsey explains the positions in lucid terms, points out the expert's error, and shows what play should have been made. New Ideas In Backgammon is a groundbreaking work that is certain to improve the play of every reader, from beginner to grandmaster.

Kit Woolsey has long been recognized as one of the world's top backgammon players, commentators, and authors. Among his many backgammon victories was first prize in the Reno Master's Tournament in 1988. He is the author of four other books published by the Gammon Press, including the best-selling How to Play Tournament Backgammon. He's also a world-class bridge player, the winner of several national and world championships.

Hal Heinrich is Canada's top backgammon player and has been considered one of the world's best for nearly a decade. He won the Monte Carlo World Championship in 1990. His other major tournament results include a second-place finish in World Cup III (1992) and first places in the Las Vegas Masters Tournament of 1993 and the Las Vegas Open of 1994. He has worked as a computer consultant in Calgary for the last 15 years, and actively maintains the world's largest database of recorded matches.

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