GNU Backgammon

Forum Archive : GNU Backgammon

Improving your game using GnuBG

From:   D.U.G.
Date:   5 November 2002
Subject:   how can I train with gnubg/windows?

I recently started using gnubg for windows. I sometimes use the hint
function to see what the program would recommend for a move, and for
the more common situations I enjoy seeing the difference between what
I might do and what is suggested. I would, however, very much like to
hone skills in a more rigourous way. How can I use gnubg to help me?
Or shall I simply continue to choose "hint" when I want a suggestion?

gracias in advance --d.u.g.

Ryan Long  writes:

You want to play matches (or sessions to simulate money play) and then
analyze your moves. Taking hints during the game isn't the best way to
improve your skills.

After you finish a game or match, have GNUBG analyze it (this option is
on a drop down menu). Then you need to click on the Windows drop down
menu and open up both the annotation and the game record windows. (I
think that's what they're called; I don't have GNUBG on this workstation.)
This will give a list of every move made in the game/match. Click on a
specific move and voila, you have a ranked list of the best moves in that
situation. Your move will be colored red, and the position will be shown
on the board.

SilverFox  writes:

The best way to improve your skills is going to be a completely subjective
affair.  It may very well be that taking hints during the game isn't the
best way for you, but I would suggest trying several different ways of
learning before making that assumption.  One way that I didn't see
mentioned in any post is the use of the tutor feature of GNU.

This is a great tool that can be highly beneficial.  You set it to the
error level you want GNU to detect and it will flag you when you are about
to make a move that exceeds that set level. Then, it doesn't just give you
a hint, it lets you try again.  Often I've found
that my second choice play is perfectly acceptable.

But all that is not to say that analyzing your matches after the match is
not good.  In fact I completely agree that it's a must if you really want
to improve your play.  Rollout the positions where you think you were
right and were flagged as wrong (affectionately called the "appeal
process". :) )

Personally, I find the best way to learn to be a combination of all of the

Ron Barry  writes:

I agree with Silverfox. The advantage to using the tutor feature is that
you get instantaneous feedback, and this is highly beneficial to learning.
Certainly you would want to analyze your matches later on, but I have
found that, since I started using the tutor feature (for about a month
now), my ratings when I *don't* use the tutor feature have advanced from
around 1600 to around 1800, for the default 7-point matches.

Frank Mazza  writes:

When I use GNU's tutor mode, on those rare occasions when Gnu
disagrees with my play (hehehe), I use the hint to find the right move
and then use the "Play Anyway" option. This both allows me to have
instant feedback when I'm making an error, but preserves my mistake
for posterity and allows me to analyze the match afterward and not get
an inflated grade because I used the tutor mode to prevent my

As far as training to improve goes, I think the hardest thing, whether
you use Snowie or Gnu, is taking the time to really go over your
errors. It is much more fun to just keep playing then grinding over a
completed match.

But it seems to be one of the only ways to ferret out systemic errors
and identify position/cube decisions you have trouble with
(positions/cube decisions which might not show up that often, but may
cost you the match if played poorly).
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     


GNU Backgammon

Analyzing GamesGrid matches  (Roy Passfield, Dec 2001) 
Batch analysis tool  (Øystein Johansen, June 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Cache size  (Ned Cross+, Mar 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Compiling for Windows  (Øystein Johansen, Jan 2002) 
Edit mode removing checker from bar  (Scott Steiner+, May 2003) 
Entering an annotated match  (Albert Silver, Dec 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Error rates: Gnu vs. Snowie  (Raccoon, Mar 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Even-ply/odd-ply effect  (Raccoon, Nov 2004) 
Even-ply/odd-ply effect  (Tom Keith+, Oct 2003) 
Even-ply/odd-ply effect  (Scott Steiner+, Dec 2002) 
Filter settings  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, Nov 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Gnu 0.13 versus Jellyfish and Snowie  (Torsten Schoop, Aug 2003) 
Gnu 0.13 vs. Snowie 4  (Albert Silver, June 2003) 
Gnu 0.14 vs. Jellyfish  (Michael Howard+, July 2003) 
Gnu versus Snowie and Jellyfish  (Michael Depreli, Oct 2005) 
How luck factor is calculated  (Gregg Cattanach, Aug 2002) 
How rollouts work  (Gary Wong, July 1999) 
How to enter an illegal move  (Øystein Johansen, Aug 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Importing .gam files  (PAR+, Mar 2005) 
Importing PartyGammon matches  (rew+, July 2006) 
Improving your game using GnuBG  (D.U.G.+, Nov 2002) 
Installing on Windows  (maareyes, Oct 2001) 
Interpreting JSD's  (Adrian Wright+, Feb 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
JSD's and confidence intervals  (Daniel Murphy+, Jan 2005) 
Logging rollouts  (Øystein Johansen, Oct 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Luck rate  (Kees van den Doel+, May 2002) 
MWC versus Equity (EMG)  (Ken+, Apr 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Manually entering first roll  (Andreas Graf+, Apr 2005) 
Match equity tables  (Raccoon, July 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Personal reflections  (Louis Nardy Pillards, Sept 2002) 
Playing two computers against each other  (Stanley E. Richards+, Mar 2008)  [GammOnLine forum]
Python scripting  (Øystein Johansen+, Nov 2004) 
Quasi-random dice in rollouts  (Ian Shaw, Mar 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Question marks in game list  (Jim Segrave, July 2005) 
Questions and answers  (Jim Segrave+, Jan 2003) 
Questions and answers  (Jørn Thyssen, Aug 2002) 
Restarting a rollout with different settings  (Jim Segrave, Apr 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Restarting a rollout with different settings  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, Apr 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Rollout settings  (geoff arnold+, Apr 2007) 
Rollout settings  (Stick+, Nov 2005)  [GammOnLine forum]
Rollout settings  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, Mar 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Rollout settings  (Ian Dunstan, Aug 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Rollout settings for the impatient  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, June 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Running rollouts in background  (Bruce+, Apr 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Saving rollout results from command-line interface  (Jeremy Bagai+, Apr 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Saving rollouts  (Mislav Radica+, May 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Setting GnuBG's playing strength  (JP White, Sept 2001) 
Setting skill level  (Jim Segrave, Apr 2004) 
Setting up and saving a rollout  (Albert Silver, Dec 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
What's GNU?  (Gary Wong, Oct 2001) 
Which player is player 0?  (Neil Kazaross+, Oct 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]

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