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Bill Robertie's Blog

The modern backgammon boom continues apace, with new players, tournaments and clubs appearing on a regular basis. New players require new books and new equipment, and thankfully suppliers are appearing to meet the need.

I recently received for review a set from one of the newest suppliers, Bone.Club. The company is located in the U.K. but sells worldwide through its website, https://www.boneclub.co.uk. I picked a color scheme called ‘A Kind of Blue’ (blue, black, and yellow), but several other color schemes are available, such as Purple Rain (red, blue, and purple), Green Dream (green, black, and orange), and others. The colors are all sharp and vivid, which makes for a very impressive-looking set. Here’s a picture of the board I received, showing the striking colors.

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Posted: April 6, 2017 | In Backgammon Equipment

The backgammon boom continues apace, with new tournaments popping up on the calendar on a regular basis. Two new tournaments appeared in just the past month: the Boston Open (Feb. 23-26) and the Viking Classic in Bloomington, MN (Mar. 9-12). Both were well attended, with 82 players in Boston and 83 players in Minnesota, very strong numbers for first-time events.

To help kick off the Boston tournament, I created a quiz contest for Sunday morning, with no entry fee and a $100 prize to the winner. Marty Storer of New Hampshire took first place with an outstanding score of 17/20, closely followed by Dennis Culpepper of Virginia with 16/20.

The collection of problems in the quiz is a little unusual. There aren’t any weird, tricky positions or difficult cube decisions based on match score considerations. It’s just a group of pretty normal positions where the choice is between two or three reasonable-looking plays. The idea here is to understand where you want to put your checkers when there’s nothing decisive to do this turn.

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Posted: March 15, 2017 | In Backgammon Quizzes

In the last blog post we looked at some hitting problems in the early game. In this post we’ll look at a couple of more examples where hitting is one possibility.

When you have a chance to hit on your opponent’s side of the board in the early game, it’s usually a pretty easy choice. Gaining a lot of ground in the race, advancing your back checkers, and taking away at least half your opponent’s roll are so important that such hits are usually routinely correct, and even when wrong are rarely wrong by much.

Hitting on your own side of the board is more problematic. Merely hitting is no longer enough of a rationale. Here are some of the other questions you need to ask:

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Posted: December 26, 2016 | In Backgammon Problems: Early Game

Many backgammon problems boil down to a simple question: hit, or don’t hit. In essence, backgammon is a pretty simple game. In general, you want to make points, and in general, you want to hit.

When you can hit a checker on the other side of the board, gaining both time and racing equity, you almost always want to do so. (The only exceptions occur when the alternative is to make a very strong priming or blocking point on your side.) But when the only possible hit is to hit a blot in your inner board, the choice is more difficult. Now you’re risking a significant loss of race equity if you get hit back, so the hit is rarely automatic. For a hit in your inner board to be correct, one of these two reasons usually applies:

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Posted: November 2, 2016 | In Backgammon Problems: Early Game

Although the first roll of the game is pretty well understood, backgammon gets much more complicated as we get a little deeper into the game and positions get more complex. Both positions in this article occur at the third move, after Black wins the opening roll and White responds. Try your hand at these commonplace and apparently simple situations, and see how you do.

Position 1.

White – Pips 161

Black – Pips 162
Black to Play 4-3

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Posted: October 6, 2016 | In Backgammon Problems: Early Game

In some earlier posts we talked about doubling in high anchor games, and looked at some typical positions where White held an anchor on the 5-point and Black was trying to cash in on his racing advantage and bring his last checkers home to victory. All of those positions turned out to be takes.

From those examples, you might conclude that almost any 5-point game was a take, regardless of the race. But it’s not quite that simple. In this article we’ll look at some examples where small modifications to the position can produce big changes in the evaluation.

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Posted: July 11, 2016 | In Backgammon Problems: Holding Game