Forum Archive :
The effect of bots on the game
Backgammon expert Paul Weaver was at the 17th Nordic "Wide" Open this
past Easter week in Copenhagen, where he gave a seminar and commented on
the final match between Teppo Salo of Finland and Karsten Bredahl of
Denmark. Bredahl, one of many players today who have achieved a
competitive level of play through dedicated use of Snowie , Gnubg and
other computer programs which have so markedly changed the backgammon
world since their advent in the 1990s, became the first two-time winner
of the Nordic, having won the tournament in 2003.
As the tournament got under way, Weaver sat for an interview with Morten
Jacobsen and 2004 Monte Carlo champion Peter Hallberg, discussing his
forthcoming book on backgammon openings (Backgammon Genesis with co-
author Nack Ballard) and the effect backgammon computer programs have
had on international backgammon competition.
Weaver observed how the "bots" have dramatically raised the level of
play. "There is no doubt," Weaver said, "that today there are at least
100 players who are better than the best players in the world were ten
years ago." Weaver also noted how the higher level of play has altered
the composition of the tournaments that make up the international
backgammon circuit. "In the old days the scene was a nice blend of
theoreticians and gamblers," Weaver said, "but these days there aren't
so many gamblers left." Weaver quoted Mike Svobodny, a circuit habitue
well-known to both the "theoreticians" and "gamblers," as saying that
the bots have "taken the mystery out of the game."
Chuck Bower writes:
The bots and the internet really have changed the game, both directly
and indirectly. I haven't done an analysis, but it would be interesting
to see a plot of new backgammon books by year, going back to 1960. It
seems like the density is higher recently than it was back in the 70's,
but maybe I'm thinking "accurate, useful books". There were so many
intro books published in the 70's, but very few books of lasting value.
Overall, counting the WWW sites, there is a huge amount of info
available, much of it for free. The opportunities to play online dwarf
the face-to-face competitions.
It used to be a treat (and a lot of work) to see an annotated match. You
can create your own (from your own matches) rather easily with automatic
Ironically with all these developments, the game may not be as popular
as in the late 70's, although that's a little hard to quantify since the
new online community has no comparison from 30 years ago. The "craze"
starting with FIBS has potentially had a greater longevity than the
disco backgammon craze.
Is the current craze fading? If so, will there be another one in our
- Backgammon in China (Mark Driver, Jan 2001)
- Backgammon variants (Raccoon, Aug 2003)
- Books on the history of backgammon (Albert Steg, Aug 1998)
- Changes in backgammon over the years (Joe Russell, July 2009)
- Doubling in the 17th Century? (David Levy+, Dec 2003)
- Murray's "History of Boardgames Other than Chess" (Dean Jameson, Apr 2002)
- Origin of backgammon (Greycat Sharpclaw, Oct 1997)
- Recent changes (Joe Russell+, July 2009)
- The effect of bots on the game (Daniel Murphy+, May 2005)
- The name "backgammon" (Jive Dadson+, Dec 2002)
- The name "backgammon" (Marina Smith, Jan 1998)
- The name "backgammon" (Albert Steg, Mar 1995)