Forum Archive :
Best books from the bot era
We've had quite a few BG books come out in the last 10 years or so. Which
(if any) are classics? Here's an exercise. Break the backgammon community
into five groups:
5. Top 100
Name one "best" book for each category. Go ahead and name backups if you
like, but please state which is your first choice in each category.
Matt Cohn-Geier writes:
Beginner: "Backgammon" by Magriel.
Intermediate: "Backgammon Boot Camp" by Trice.
Advanced: "Modern Backgammon" by Robertie. ("Advanced Backgammon" by
Robertie is probably a good segue before "Modern
Open: "New Ideas in Backgammon" by Woolsey and Heinrich.
Top 100: Do such books exist?
I wrote about my experience with BG books in a long thread which is now at
http://www.bkgm.com/rgb/rgb.cgi?view+1416. The relevant paragraph is:
I read "Backgammon Praxis" (excellent), "Modern Backgammon" (excellent),
"Backgammon with the Giants: Neil Kazaross" (good), "Boards, Blots, and
Double Shots" by Wiggins (good), "Understanding Backgammon" (decent),
"Tournament Backgammon" by Woolsey (mediocre), "Can a Fish Taste Twice as
Good?" (too math-theoretical for my taste), the "MatchQiz" series by
Woolsey (decent), "Vision Laughs at Counting" vol. 1 by Kleinman (okay, but
disappointing), and "New Ideas in Backgammon" (excellent).
Since then, I've read "Reno 86" and "Lee Genud vs. Joe Dwek", which are
both pretty good books, but match analyses from the pre-bot era are
something else. I forgot to give mention to Jeremy's "Classic Backgammon
Revisited", which was also very good. "Can A Fish Taste Twice as Good?" has
grown on me. I read "Vision Laughs at Counting" vol. 2 and "Double Sixes
from the Bar", and Chris Bray's "Second Wind". I may come back to Kleinman
because he seems to be the only person who discusses chouettes. And I've
read Nack and Paul's book, "Backgammon Openings Book A", which is pretty
So, I'll keep my eyes open for Top 100 level books, which I would love to
have, if I knew of such things. Also, if anyone has or knows of any Ortega
books (Fascinating Backgammon, Costa Rica 93/94, Jerry Grandell), I'd
really like to read those.
Philippe Michel writes:
Beginner: Magriel's "Backgammon". There are probably good, more recent,
beginners books, but are they really better than it?
Intermediate: Magriel's "Backgammon". As a backup, "Advanced Backgammon",
mostly for the basic double reference positions. Maybe
Woolsey's "Encyclopedia" would be better for this (I haven't
Advanced: "Boot Camp". Everybody else seems to put it in the
intermediate category, but I think that most of the book is
quite advanced, or at least introductions to quite advanced
Open: "Modern backgammon". As a backup, the last 2 (maybe 3) years
of "Inside Backgammon".
Top 100: I'm not qualified to answer. Probably none. I don't think the
difference between open tornament players (how many are
there?) and top 100 is related to their respective reading.
Mislav Radica writes:
Great, I like this question! There is at least three main kinds of books
in backgammon: Books with annotated matches, books about doubling cube and
other backgammon books (mostly problems books). Maybe we should choose the
best books from those three groups for all your categories.
Where do we put the Ballard/Weaver book about Backgammon Openings? It is
for all levels from high intermediate and up, so I'll put it in Open
Since I am somewhere between "advanced" and "open", I will not consider
which books are best for Top 100 players. I have no idea.
I don't think books from before the bot era are appropriate reading
nowadays. From my experience they only distract your game. Maybe after
reading all the best books from bot era one can start to read old books
with Bagai book in one hand and some bot in other. Magriel's Backgammon,
Robertie's Advanced backgammon, Orthega's Costa Rica match books, Kleinman
are all excellent books but I think it is important to get right the modern
way of play first.
1. Chris Bray: Backgammon for Win
2. Kit Woolsey/Patty Beadles: 52 great backgammon tips
3. Paul Lamford: Starting Out In Backgammon
4. Bill Robertie: Backgammon for Winners
5. Bill Robertie: Backgammon for Serious Players (match book)
1. Walter Trice: Backgammon Boot Camp
2. Bill Robertie: 501 Essential Backgammon Problems
3. Antonio Orthega/Danny Kleinman: Backgammon With the Giants (match book)
4. Kit Woolsey/Tami Jones: Understanding backgammon
5. Norm Wiggins: Boards, Blots and Double Shots
1. Bill Robertie: Modern backgammon
2. Marty Storer: Backgammon Praxis (match books)
3. Kit Woolsey: Backgammon Encyclopedia Vol I (cube book)
4. Jeremy Paul Bagai: Classic Backgammon Revisited
5. Kit Woolsey: How to Play Tournament backgammon
1. Kit Woolsey/Hal Heinrich: New Ideas In Backgammon
2. Nack Ballard/Paul Weaver: Backgammon Openings Book A
3. Antonio Orthega/Danny Kleinman: Cubes and Gammons Near End of Match
4. Paul Lamford/Simon Gasquoine: Improve Your Backgammon
5. Bob Wachtel: In the Game Until the End
Mislav Radica writes:
Best Books from the Bot Era.
There is no good short list of books which doesn't suffer from some fault.
Here are the books that I think are the most significant books of the bot
era. The bot era runs from approximately 1995 when Jellyfish first
appeared. A good source of books, listed according to the year of
publishing, can be found here:
Here is my list:
1. Walter Trice: Backgammon Boot Camp (2004).
While this books is suitable for intermediate players, there is full
agreement that it is more advanced, so I put it as the first book one
should read among these eight. You can find everything here. Checker
play, many cube reference positions. Especially valuable chapters are
those about cube handling in backgames and chapters about match play.
2. Bill Robertie: Modern Backgammon (2001).
Best book by Robertie and the most accurate. It is only about checker
play for money. There is also a comprehensive annotated match between
Grandell and Ballard. It is interesting how Robertie explains the
reasons behind modern bot-like play.
3. Kit Woolsey: Backgammon Encyclopedia, Vol I (2002).
This book desperately needs Vol II, which the author announced after
publishing. I don't know if this is still planned, but the BG community
needs more reference cube positions which this book proudly presents in
it's whole content.
4. Marty Storer: Backgammon Praxis, Vol I&II (2005)
The best book(s) with world class matches. With great graphical
presentation, players' comments, and extensive rollouts, the setup is a
new standard for such books.
I also like Kit Woolsey's special annotated 21-point match between Ken
Arnold/Kit Woolsey and Nack Ballard/Harvey Huie in 2001 Pro-AM Semi-
finals which can be find here:
All the OLM matches, with Kit's comments and Snowie rollouts are
5. Nack Ballard/Paul Weaver: Backgammon Openings, Book A (2007)
We have been waiting a long for this book. Along with upcoming volumes
from the same series, it will be invaluable material.
6. Jeremy Paul Bagai: Classic Backgammon Revisited (2001).
This problem book is significant because it corrects the biggest errors
from classic books and I recommend you use along with a bot when you
plan to read the classics.
7. Kit Woolsey/Hal Heinrich: New Ideas In Backgammon (1996).
Definitely the most advanced practical BG book. Still very accurate
nowadays if you know that authors used Jellyfish rollouts. Excellent
explanations by Kit. Problems are exceptions to the usual rules of thumb
and they are taken from real matches as errors which world class players
8. Antonio Ortega/Danny Kleinman: Cubes and Gammons Near the End of the
Book completely devoted for cube handling in matches. Kit Woolsey's "How
to Play Tournament Backgammon" is about same topic but much shorter. We
still wait for great book about cube handling in matches which will
increase level of play for many advanced and open players.
- After Magriel (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen+, Aug 2000)
- Annotated matches (Walter Trice, Jan 2000)
- Best books from the bot era (Chuck Bower+, Nov 2007)
- Best next step (Gregg Cattanach+, July 2002)
- Bibliography (Carl Tait, Apr 2000)
- Books for advanced players (Edward D. Collins, June 2003)
- Books for serious players (Douglas Zare, Feb 2003)
- Books on match play (Keene Marin+, Sept 2005)
- Buyer's guide (Chuck Bower, Feb 1998)
- How to read backgammon books (Gary Wong, Jan 1998)
- Ideal book on backgammon (Laury Chizlett, Apr 2000)
- Informal book survey (Chuck Bower+, Dec 2005)
- John Bazigos's suggestions (Mika Johnsson, July 1993)
- Magriel, Robertie, and Kleinman (Gregg Cattanach, May 2000)
- Marty Storer's reading list (Larry Hunter, May 1992)
- Recommended Backgammon Books (Butch Meese, Jan 1984)
- Survey of some available books (William Hill, Jan 1998)
- Three underrated books (Mary Hickey, July 2003)
- What's a good second book? (Tommy+, Dec 2000)
- Which book by Chris Bray should I buy? (Timothy Chow+, July 2012)