Forum Archive :
I have not yet played live backgammon. I am having a blast playing
online for small sums. I depend heavily on the running pip counts. My
error rating would be increased significantly if I had to count pips.
Furthermore, I suspect that live tourney play is significantly slower
due to the need to count pips.
1. Does counting pips increase live tourney players' error rates?
2. Are live tourneys significantly slower that online play?
3. If so, what are the causes of slower play?
Why is live backgammon slower? You have to pick up, shake and roll
uncocked dice, move all the pieces without a mouse, 'toggle autoroll,'
'toggle automove' and 'toggle greedy,' write down the score, and set up
the next game, and you get to take breaks that you aren't allowed
Pip counting should not significantly slow the game down. Pip counting
is easy with a little practice. Fast pip counting is easy with a little
more practice. I'm sure there are players who can count any position in
10 seconds. Some players even keep a running pipcount from start to
finish. To count any position in 20 seconds is a realistic goal for any
player. In some games no counting is needed. In the others, you only
have to count pips once.
If I were going to go out and play live tournaments I would certainly
spend a few hours brushing up on the pipcounting skills that one lets
slide playing online. I would do this whether or not the tournament used
clocks because pipcounting should be precise and painless, not tentative
and tiring. Mastering pipcounts is like mastering opening responses --
your play becomes faster, more assured, less anxious, more accurate.
Gregg Cattanach writes:
Paul Weaver has told me that he keeps a running pip count throughout his
games, but I have no way to verify whether he really does or not.
Certainly, knowing the pip count even very early in the game has value,
(go for a priming or running game, etc.) However, for me this would use
up too much mental horsepower and be a distraction.
I'm a big pip counter, and probably average counting the pips once or
twice per game, even to make checker play decisions, not just at cube
turns. I use Jack Kissane's method: (Cluster Counting,
http://www.bkgm.com/articles/McCool/cluster.html) and even though this
is not the fastest method ever invented, I like the fact that I know
both numbers, not just the differential. I also feel it is a method that
is pretty easy to get the right numbers on the first try.
If you play in person, it really is a sin not to be able to count the
pips, or dislike the process so much that you don't do it when you
really need to.
For me I don't think pip counting has much to do with increasing my
error rate, mostly because I'm willing to do it and have a pretty good
idea when I should be doing it. I have a small sample of complete
matches (19 matches) I've played over the board, and my error rate is
pretty much on par with what I do on-line. I actually think I play
somewhat better in person, as I basically am trying harder. I also have
a tendency to sometimes take when I should pass on-line, 'just to see
how it comes out'. I'm definitely more cautious in person.
- Casting out crossovers (Mark Denihan, Oct 1996)
- Cluster counting (camelx+, May 2005)
- Counting half rolls (Bob Hoey, Apr 1998)
- Half-crossover method (Douglas Zare, Mar 2002)
- Live play versus online (Stanley E. Richards+, Apr 2006)
- Live play versus online (Rich+, Mar 2006)
- Mental shift (Stephen Turner, Oct 1996)
- Modified direct count (Daithi, Mar 2011)
- Opposing sums and differences (Donald Kahn, Apr 1998)
- Running pip count (Rodrigo Andrade+, Apr 1998)
- Symmetry method, Grouping men (Brian Sheppard, Jan 1997)
- The 51/21 count (kruidenbuiltje, Mar 2011)
- Tips (Patti Beadles, Dec 1994)
- Tips for counting pips (neilkaz, Sept 2010)