Forum Archive : Terminology

"Blunder", "whopper"

From:   Raccoon
Address:   racgammon@yahoo.com
Date:   30 July 2005
Subject:   Whoppers, Blunders and Errors. Oh my.
Forum:   GammOnLine

The bkgm glossary now defines blunder = whopper = 0.100 error.

(1) But discussion in r.g.bg reminds us that "blunder" is a subjective
term. Every player following the good advice to "concentrate on
eliminating blunders from your game" will have a different threshold of
what constitutes a blunder.

Michael Zehr once announced a series of posts of "blunder" positions
using a threshold of 0.040. For his series of problems on his website,
Alan "Webby" Webb used a threshold of 0.050. David Montgomery once wrote
(somewhere -- I couldn't track it down) something like "0.050 errors? oh
no -- we don't want to make those!"

(2) "Blunder" seems to have been popularized by Snowie. The blunder
threshold in v3 (or v2? v1?) was set to 0.110. But the term must have
already been in use; has anyone any references predating Snowie? I seem
to recall thinking then that 0.110 was overly generous but I may be

The earliest googleable cite for "blunder" in rec.games.backgammon dates
back to a Feb 2, 1998 post by Donald Kahn.

(3) The first use of "whopper" in rec.games.backgammon to mean a huge
play error occurred January, 2000:

    "With 8-2, he says opponent should not even double, equity .40. This
    big an error is known as a 'whopper.'"--Donald Kahn, Jan. 28, 2000

Other whopper combo cites:

Jørn Thyssen, May 15, 2000: [play that is a 0.139 error is] "a big

Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, Aug. 22, 2000: "And if I'm wrong I'll enjoy my
  whopper and milkshake (blunders>0.10)"

Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, Sep. 10, 2000: "so I might be wrong, perhaps even
  into whopper blunder area"

Gregg Cattanach, Jan 7, 2001: "Your move didn't even come up in the top
  20 for Snowie, and analyzes as a double whopper with cheese."

Zorba, Dec. 10, 2003: [play that is a 0.387 error is] "almost a
  quadruple Whopper"

I suspect the GOL archives from that time, if they were searchable,
would show where the above mentioned posters first saw the term.

The early cites for "whopper" in r.g.bg lead me to think that Magriel is
in fact responsible for making backgammon the home of the whopper,
perhaps by using the term in one or more of the lectures he gave on the
tournament circuit.

Mary Hickey  writes:

"Blunder" seems to have been borrowed from the chess world, which was
already using the term back when I played in high school. And its use
predated my taking up the game--they didn't invent it for me (or at
least I don't think they did!)

Perry Gartner  writes:

Some time prior to 2000, Paul Magriel told me that he had coined a term
to denote a Snowie .10 error, a "whopper". A whopper with chesse
exceeded .10 and a double whopper was .20. Donald Kahn was a student of

I recall Paul saying at the time, in order to improve his own error
rate, he focused in depth on his .10 and higher errors. In depth to Paul
meant that he understood the position,knew where the "meat" (his
expression) was coming from,and was capable of successfully tackling the
common variations of the position.
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