[Backgammon Galore!] Annotated Match

Kit Woolsey vs. Jeremy Bagai

Annotated by Kit Woolsey, Jeremy Bagai, and TD-Gammon


In February of 1994, Kit Woolsey and Jeremy Bagai thought it would be a good idea to annotate a match for FIBS players so they could see the thinking processes of the more experienced players. They played a fairly interesting match, logged it, and then annotated it independently. You will see the reasons for their plays and cube decisions, as well their second thoughts upon later analysis which often came to a different conclusion than the original choices.

In addition, Gerry Tesauro volunteered TD-Gammon's valuable help. TD analyzed the whole match and listed its top three choices for each play along with its estimated equities. These equities are always assuming a 1-cube and they do not take into account cube ownership. For example, on a pass/take decision, an equity of -.50 would be a break-even decision, since that would translate to an equity of -.100 on a 2-cube. TD was also nice enough to comment on the game, giving the reasons behind its choices as well as getting in a few snide remarks about the players' mistakes.

Just a word of caution about TD-Gammon's estimates: TD-Gammon's area of expertise is in overall positional judgment decisions, where its vast training experience allows it to accurately weigh the relevant factors. But on certain more technical positions TD-Gammon does not do as well. So you have to be careful about when to accept its recommendations.

Thanks to Kit Woolsey, Jeremy Bagai, and TD-Gammon (Gerry Tesauro) for making this match available. Mark Damish formatted the original text version of the match.


To make it easy to follow the games, we have included a diagram before each play showing the position of the board and the roll of the dice. A good learning exercise is to examine each position and decide what you would do if you were playing. Then check to see how your choice compares with that of the players and commentators.

Each play is given as a series of moves separated by commas. A move consists of a starting point, a slash (/), and a finishing point. For example, 8/5 indicates that a checker moves from the eight point to the five point. An asterisk (*) indicates that a checker has been hit. A number in parentheses indicates that that number of checkers move together. Points are numbered from the point of view of the player whose turn it is. The farthest-away point is number 24 and checkers always move from higher points to lower points.

The Match

Here is the match. Start at Game 1 and enjoy.

Game 1  •  Game 2  •  Game 3  •  Game 4  •  Game 5  •  Game 6  •  Game 7

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