Forum Archive : History

Recent changes

From:   Joe Russell
Address:   ez2bblue@aol.com
Date:   8 July 2009
Subject:   Changes in backgammon over the years
Forum:   BGonline.org Forums

After a long hiatus from tournament backgammon, I returned about 16 months
ago. I found several things had changed: The people are nicer; information
is more freely dispersed; and clocks are becoming the standard.

When I started playing backgammon, far too many years ago, it was not
uncommon to see macho, arrogant, abusive, and insulting behavior at
tournaments. I am not sure why that was or why for the most part it does
not exist today. It could be that prior to the bots, no one really knew how
they truly stacked up against other players and the insecurity that came
with that influenced their behavior. The bots now tell you how good you are
and there is no room for false bravado and false arrogance. That is a big
improvement. Unfortunately, the bots also told a number of bad players who
thought they were "the unluckiest player ever" that they were really just
bad. I think this drove some of the weaker players away and had a negative
effect on tournament attendance.

Information is much more freely dispersed today than it was in the past
when there was a smaller group of strong players and the information was
more tightly held and traded amongst them creating an even further divide
between them and the next tier. Today you have young stars like Stick
tirelessly organizing rollout groups, studying the game, and sharing his
information with everyone. There are too many people to mention to give
credit to everyone but it is a much more open and friendly environment.
Sites like this one and GammonVillage keep people involved, informed, and
entertained and promote the game. I think it helps get more people 'hooked'
and leads to increased attendance at tournaments. It is also good to see
people thinking about how to promote the game and get more players
involved. Phil Simborg is one person that deserves credit for seeing the
big picture.

The last major change is the use of clocks. I for one prefer not to use a
clock, but I am starting to come around. The major thing I like about them
is that it prevents: arguments over rolls; fast rolling; and three-hour 11-
point matches. What I don't like is the current time controls. I am sure I
am in the minority on this site, but I think I may be part of the silent
majority. The majority of people I spoke with in Michigan said that they
would prefer to not play with clocks but that if they are used the time
needs to be increased.

Marty Storer  writes:

I concur with your observations about the greater general level of civility
now than, say, 30 years back. I think part of the reason is that bots have
brought greater objectivity, which as you say forces people to acquire
better playing attitudes or else to feel less inclined to play. Also, the
bots' technical feedback has raised the general level of play so that the
difference between the average player and some randomly selected weak or
degenerate-gambler or other irrationally behaving player is bigger than it
used to be. Thus the kooks are more quickly weeded out by attrition (their
bad results).
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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)  [GammOnLine forum]
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)  [GammOnLine forum]
The name "backgammon"  (Jive Dadson+, Dec 2002) 
The name "backgammon"  (Marina Smith, Jan 1998) 
The name "backgammon"  (Albert Steg, Mar 1995) 

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