Learning

 How to improve cube handling

 From: RealNick Address: nick4re@gmail.com Date: 11 January 2011 Subject: How do I improve cube handling? Forum: BGonline.org Forums

```I've been studying, practicing and playing and my game has improved a lot
over the past year or so. My cube play still lags behind though, XG rates
it as intermediate.

Does anyone have a recommendation on how to study and improve cube action?
Books? Practice methods? Reference position study?
```

 Timothy Chow  writes: ```If you've been primarily playing matches against XG, I'd recommend playing money-game sessions. That will simplify things by taking the match score out of the equation. Once you have a good handle on money-game cubes then you can step up to match-play cubes. Woolsey's "Backgammon Encyclopedia" is a must-read if you haven't mastered it already. Be relentless about studying your errors. Compile them and review them periodically, making hardcopies if it helps you organize your errors and spot patterns. Focus on your biggest errors first--what are you most often doing wrong? Missing opportunities to double? Taking too deep or dropping too early? Cashing when too good? By spotting patterns you should be able to make systematic progress. ```

 Sebastiaan kuijs  writes: ```I practise a lot with XG and when I play live I make pictures of positions I think are doubles and check them at home. I tend to miss a lot of cubes so i cubed more. Thats one way you can improve your cube by looking at your profile. Just analyse and play against XG you'll get better before you know it. ```

 Stick  writes: ```1. Always play money game sessions until you've improved to the point you can move on to match play. You will know when this is if you're serious about improving. Your PR will also reflect it. 2. Master all the basic cube reference positions. Kit's book is a good place to start. You should study tons of early game cubes, blitzing cubes, holding game cubes, X men off and your opponent hits a shot, prime v. prime, racing cubes etc... these should all seem easy to you after some study. 3. While studying those positions note both the win % and gammons won, this will be important to put into use later. You don't need to memorize every reference position in the world, having a good general idea will be enough. Being able to estimate gammons both won and lost seems to be a critical skill that most people don't have that I think hurts their cube decisions the most. 4. Play XG a lot and figure out which way your cube errors are leaning. Doubling too early/late, taking too deep, passing too soon, not playing on when you should, not realizing the volatility or lack thereof in a position, etc... One weakness often relates to another. Too optimistic or too pessimistic, figure out which, convert to a realist. You can always do things when you're bored like read articles on cubing or search the forums for the word 'cube' or 'double' and go through those problems and see how you do. These positions will already have rollouts attached to the thread so once you decide on your cube action you can move on and see how you did. Don't just nod your head and move on, check the numbers and try to figure out why you got it wrong if you went astray. ```

 David Rockwell  writes: ```I want to add one point to Stick's comment #2. I recommend working on one type of position at a time rather than scattering your efforts across many different types of positions. ```

 Phil Simborg  writes: ```It helps to catagorize your errors. Are you dropping too much, taking too much, giving the cube too soon in running games, giving the cube too late against holding games? XG's player profile "details" will give you the answer to some of the above, but the rest you either have to make a list or be very conscious of the kind of errors you are making. (By the way, the same approach can also improve your checker play.) Once you know where your weaknesses are, you can be more focussed in your efforts to improve. (A couple of years ago MCG told me I was dropping too many cubes, and I asked him what the best way was to cure that problem. He said, "Take more cubes.") ```

 DoubleDouble1984  writes: ```I started studying Kit Woosley's Backgammon Encyclopedia recently and it has really improved my cube action for money. If you don't have a copy I highly recommend picking one up. It breaks down groups of reference positions in a very well structured way. I ordered it through gammon press. ```

 kruidenbuiltje  writes: ```I dont know how much you already know, but this is how i do it: In anchor situations i use the PRAT rule, Position, race, threat. Two plusses out of three is a double. For the take i use Robertie's criteria: anchor, five prime, contact on the other side. If yes, no, yes: it is probably a take. In no-anchor situations I use the a blitz standard benchmark position, with a 3 point board against a 1 point board, with one checker on the bar and one blot in the board, and 2 attackers on the blot, this is double take, more is double pass, less is no double. From there on I made up a few rules for myself like: - 3 extra attackers is almost an extra boardpoint - 4 extra checkers in the zone (in the second quadrant but not attacking the blot) is almost an extra boardpoint - a 4-anchor is 1.4 boardpoint - a 5-anchor is 1.5 boardpoint - both backcheckers escaped is 2 boardpoints - this way i can calculate a lot of positions over the board towards my benchmark. When there is no checker on the bar, but one in the board, and one blot somewhere else then a direct shot on this blot calculates as a barblot, but with one exception: these threat doubles are never Double pass. Thats how far i came so far with studying a lot of 5-move games against gnu. ```

 Wamy Einehouse  writes: ```One of the techniques that is helping my cube play is to check the cube % in Gnub cash games quite often, and watch how the % changes and by what margin as the game develops and defines itself. Generally I find this helps me get a good idea of how large the margins are and how they change, and also helps with the over all feel for quite when you should be making specific choices. It certainly very quickly removed many areas where I was making serious errors, and is helping me a lot in more marginal spots. ```

### Learning

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Beginners' mistakes  (Alan Webb+, Nov 1999)
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How to improve cube handling  (RealNick+, Jan 2011)
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Practice/study plan  (Marcus Brooks+, Nov 1995)
Reference positions  (Chuck Bower, July 1999)
Study Methodology  (Phil Simborg, Dec 2012)
Study method  (Jason Lee+, Jan 2012)
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