One more for the FAQ. Before Marty Storer left the list, I pestered
him for an annotated bibliography. He came through in grand style.
Here it is:
_Backgammon_, Paul Magriel, NY Times/Quadrangle Press, New York 1976.
The best introduction to the game. Covers basic checker play very well.
If you read and thoroughly understand this book, you'll play a decent
game. Weaknesses--skimpy treatment of the doubling cube.
_Genud_vs_Dwek:_The_1981_World_Backgammon_Championship_ (or similar title),
Bill Robertie, The Gammon Press, Arlington, Mass. 1982.
Very thorough coverage of the 25-point finals of the 1981 Monte Carlo
tournament. Goes into quite a bit of detail about ins and outs of match
play. Excellent section on backgames. I've referred to this as
Robertie(red) since it has a red cover 8-).
_Backgammon_With_The_Champions_, Kent Goulding, ~1980-82.
Series of annotated matches between good players. Forget how many in
all. Excellent material, giving very good insight into how top players
think. Commentary by Goulding, often in collaboration with Kit Woolsey;
both of these guys are very, very strong players. Let's see, the matches
are Seidel vs. Hodis; Magriel vs. Sconyers; Genud vs. Posner; Pasko vs.
Motakhasses; two (?) 5-point matches in one volume: Lester vs. Horan and
Woolsey vs. Pasko; Robertie vs. Senkiewicz; Goulding vs. Maxakuli; Dwek
vs. Chafetz; Ballard vs. Lubetkin; Eisenberg vs. Magriel(?); and more I
can't remember. I can't recommend this series too highly (though Genud
vs. Posner was a lousy match).
_Advanced_Backgammon_ (2nd edition; two volumes), Bill Robertie, Gammon
Press, Arlington, Mass. '91.
I haven't seen this yet--only the first edition of one volume. Series of
problems, giving very good introduction to truly advanced concepts.
Errors in first edition are supposedly corrected. The first edition is
what I call Robertie(blue); the second is Robertie(white).
_Backgammon_Times_, all back editions.
This was a very good backgammon newspaper that was around in about
'82-'83. A lot of interesting articles by top players and analysts.
Probably hard to get these days.
_Reno_1986_, Bill Robertie, The Gammon Press, Arlington, Mass. 1987.
Two annotated matches from the very strong Reno tournament of '86.
Semifinal match is between Nack Ballard and Mike Senkiewicz; an excellent
match, well annotated. Finals between Ballard and Howard Markowitz. The
book is in quiz format, so you can test your skill against Ballard's
(well, kind of: Ballard had to find his moves over-the-board under great
pressure--nothing like the finals of a big tournament to get the
adrenalin flowing!). I've only found a couple of mistakes in the
annotations. This book is referred to as Robertie(yellow).
_World_Class_Backgammon_,_Move_By_Move_, Roy Friedman, 1989 or 90; forget
other publication info.
Annotated matches between Robertie and "international star" Rick Barabino
(Barabino is strong, but "international star"--I dunno...). Three
9-point matches with some excellent games (check out the second game of
the first match particularly). Annotations are very good; Friedman put a
lot of work into rolling out many of the diagrammed positions. The
annotation style is terse; Friedman takes a very scientific approach.
_Vision_Laughs_at_Counting_ (two volumes), Danny Kleinman, ~1978.
-all other material by Kleinman is "must have"--write to him at 5312-1/2
Village Green, Los Angeles, CA 90016 and tell him I sent ya.
Seminal work on match play, money play, doubling cube, races, and more.
Kleinman is very prolific. His analyses are often more mathematical than
the average reader can handle, but Real Mathematicians [tm] and even the
layperson with math aptitude shouldn't be fazed. A Real Mathematician
wouldn't call Kleinman's math "deep", but it sure is accurate, and you
won't find anything similar anywhere else. He does the important work of
formulating the right problems the right way, where many others couldn't.
Drawbacks: his books are self-published with lousy layout and graphics.
He's supposedly not that great a player (I've never seen him play), so
his analyses often lack the world-class insight into the thought
processes of the strong practical player that you could get from a
Goulding or a Robertie. In particular, his middle-game intuition seems
less than world-class. But these drawbacks are more than made up for by
the wealth of information in his books, which I still haven't completely
soaked up after many years. Kleinman is a subtle thinker and a meticulous
analyst of the countable, and he does a lot to develop backgammon
"vision." His stuff is often uproariously funny, but sometimes one gets
impatient trying to filter out what's relevant to the practical player
from the humor.
I repeat--all his books are "must have's" for the serious player.
They're a bit expensive since I think he bears all the production costs
himself, but for the serious player they're worth every cent.
Pretty Good Books But Not "Must Have's":
_Backgammon_For_Profit_, Joe Dwek, Stein and Day, New York 1975 (out of
Problems that would now be considered fairly basic. Almost all
solutions are right. Tables of replies to opening moves show how badly
_Paradoxes_and_Probabilities_, Barclay Cooke, Random House, New York
This is almost a "must have." 168 problems, most of which are very
interesting. Current thinking is that solutions to about a third of
them are wrong, but the analysis gives very good insight into how
first-generation world class player, thought about backgammon.
_The_Doubling_Cube_In_Backgammon_, Jeff Ward, Aquarian Enterprises,
San Diego 1982.
Goes into basic doubling-cube concepts and gives some benchmark
positions with equities derived from rollouts. Gives some bearoff
tables, etc. Analysis of benchmark positions is pretty good but
sometimes skimpy; Ward only admits to having done 100-200 rollouts to
derive his equities.
_Backgammon_Master_Games_, Bill Kennedy and Chuck Papazian, 1982 (forget
other publication info).
Annotated games and positions from master match play. Analysis is
largely based on intuitive concepts, and isn't well grounded in
match-equity considerations etc. Not well supported by rollouts; a
fair amount of
errors, but the analysis overall is pretty sound.
Other books that I've read aren't worth much, including
_Competitive_Backgammon_ Vol._II_, Mike Labins, Marty Storer, and Bill
Tallmadge, Competitive Backgammon Publications, Syracuse 1981. (It was
good for the time but would be considered lousy now.)
As I mentioned before, you can reach Gammon Press at (617)641-2091,
fax: (617)648-8041 or PO Box 294 Arlington, MA 02174 USA
Lawrence Hunter, PhD.
National Library of Medicine
Bldg. 38A, MS-54
Bethesda. MD 20894
(301) 496-0673 (fax)