Pip Counting

Forum Archive : Pip Counting


From:   Patti Beadles
Address:   pattib@netcom.com
Date:   22 December 1994
Subject:   Re: Pit Counting Tips
Forum:   rec.games.backgammon
Google:   pattibD18F42.MJI@netcom.com

I always do absolute counts, not relative ones, and I've learned to do
them fairly quickly.  Here are some tips:

- Stop using the pipcounter on FIBS!  This is the most important thing
  I've done.  "toggle allowpip" will stop you from getting a pipcount
  with the "pip" command, and also prevent your opponent from doing it.

- Learn a few simple patterns that come up often.  For example, a
  closed board with no spares is 42.  Two checkers each on 4, 5, and 6
  is 30.  Two checkers each on 7 and 8 is also 30.

- Make sure you know multiples of 13 for the midpoint.  Likewise for
  18 with your opponent's bar point, although that isn't quite as

- Your opponent's 5-point is 20 pips.  I tend to count checkers in my
  opponent's board, multiply by 20, and then add in any differential.

- Figure out some way to remember your count while you do your
  opponent's side.  I've got a simple method of using my fingers to
  remember the count, since I'm hopeless at actually remembering
  numbers.  (For a while, it was count my side, count my opponent's
  side, oops! count my side again, geez, now count my opponent's side
  again, give up.)

- Practice, practice, practice.

Another thing that I've found useful is learning when I need a precise
pipcount (races, etc.) and when an approximate one will do.  If I
don't need absolute accuracy, I take shortcuts... two checkers on my
opponent's ace point is 50, for example.

One other thing... in a straight race, it's sometimes helpful to keep
a running count.  Get an accurate count once, then keep track of
how it changes after each roll... e.g. I'm nine pips up.  My opponent
rolls 5 2, now I'm two pips up.  I roll 6 4 and I'm twelve up.  etc.
If you've ever played blackjack and counted cards, you'll find this
quickly becomes second nature.  It's possible to do it in contact
positions, too-- I did this for several games, keeping a running
pipcount from the opening roll on.  While it can be done, I found that
it wasn't all that useful, and it distracted me from bigger issues.
              Patti Beadles |
          pattib@netcom.com |  Algolagnia abounds!
    pattib@ichips.intel.com |
or just yell, "Hey, Patti!" |  One bad cube can ruin your entire day.
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Pip Counting

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)  [GammOnLine forum]
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) 

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