I’m Going To Be Gammoned (Not So Happy Together)

by Jana Bohrer

He hit me once. It hurt it did. –  I danced,
He hit me once again and I still pranced.
I must come in and hit a blot to have a chance.
I’m going to get gammoned

If he should roll a six, he’ll hit again.
I’ll have three up and he will be this close to gin.
I blew my chance to anchor once, it was a sin.
Now I’m getting gammoned.

I need fours now and only doubles will do,
To save my life.
Fours would come in and I could hit him back too,
To save my life.

A three and one will not help me.
No matter how I toss the dice, it has to be,
No other roll than double fours, or I can see
That I will be gammoned.

I need fours now and only doubles will do,
To save my life.
Fours would come in and I could hit him back too,
To save my life.

A two and two will not help me.
No matter how I toss the dice, it has to be,
No other roll than double fours, or I can see,
That I will be gammoned

Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba

A one and three will not help me.
No matter how I toss the dice, it has to be,
No other roll than double fours, or I can see
That I will be gammoned.

I’m going to be gammoned,
And lose all my mammon.
I’m going to be gammoned.
Could be a backgammon.
It hurts to be gammoned.
I’m so getting gammoned.
I hate being gammoned
It’s over, I’m gammoned (ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba)

The Nightstalker

by Jana Bohrer

which is which

Bruce Becker was a lawyer and sometime movie producer.
He is also the alter ego of the spine chilling super-villain known as the Nightstalker.


Okay.  Not so much.  But, it is a fact that in 1974 Bruce Becker did to backgammon books what Richard Ramirez did in 1980’s to the peaceful sleep of Los Angelinas.  (And you have to admit, the resemblance is striking.)

There soooo many things one could say about this book.  But I think the following charming anecdote told by Becker himself sums up quite a lot:

“My eleven year old daughter, who is a very good player, lost a gammon to me in a game she that she thought she had a good chance to pull off.  She was furious at both of us (herself for losing and me for winning); she turned on me with venom and blurted out, “I hate you!”  I knew then that she would be a great player someday.”exorsict

I know, I’m verklempt too.  After all, isn’t it every proud papa’s dream to sire backgammon’s first little Tonya Harding? Tonya Harding pumps her fists as she finishes her

“Backgammon for Blood” continues in the same vein with more pithy advice on winning gracefully.

“This is one game where even the pretenses of ‘sportsmanship’ are eliminated.  Outright hostility prevails, and in my opinion the world is better for it…”

The Emily Post of backgammon goes on to suggest the proper way of correcting an opponent’s illegal move:

“I like to add a slight leer when I do; the implication that my opponent may not be quite as smart (or as honest) as I am can sometimes rattle him.”

To be fair, Becker does seem to realize there may be consequences for following his advice, and tells the reader how to deal with any twinges of conscience one may feel after acting like a complete !@*$@*#!:

“You should never feel guilty because you’re hated.”hate

After thoroughly covering how to be a success in backgammon by channeling your inner Attila the Hun, Becker attempts to tackle strategy.  He sums up his philosophy thus:

“Most modern day writers on backgammon recommend a running game as their basic strategy: get your men moving as fast as possible out of your opponent’s board; bring them around quickly; avoid a back game like the plague.

“I don’t agree.”

Um…memo to Bruce – 1. Move men  2.  Bring men around  3.  Bear men off………Can you say OBJECT OF THE GAME DUDE!?

As for this back game hypothesis, I have been testing this strategy for a number of years.  Not willingly, not purposefully, not mindfully – but testing it nonetheless.  A lot.  And the only benefit I have derived from the experiment is perfecting methods of getting off the gammon without wasting any pips.

I do not have enough space to speak of Becker’s treatise on opening rolls.  But the highlight reel includes:

5-3 making the 3 point is “a waste”

6-5 played with a lover’s leap to the 13 is “…a death jump.  Play this roll in this fashion and you are virtually destined to doom.”

To be perfectly fair to Becker, I did ask my backgammon guru Jim Painter if anyone in the old days (before computers or slide rules were invented) ever played openings as this book depicts.

As we went through them he commented, “Yeah, 6-2 slotting the 5, everybody did that…4-1 slot the 5 and down was popular…3-2 two down, a lot of guys did that….etc.”

But when we got to the 6-2, 6-3 and 6-5 moves, and I explained that Becker played them all by bringing two down, he exclaimed, “NOBODY did that!”  (Pause, followed by wistful sigh.) “At least nobody I ever played.”

The Chapter on conducting a proper bear off begins:rosemary

“In talking of bearing off, I like to think of my home board as pregnant and ready to bring forth,  Unfortunately some pregnancies miscarry.”

Get that image out of your head.  I dare you.

Any finally my favorite sentence from the book:

“First, seriously consider throwing the doubling cube at him.”

I could add context.  But isn’t it perfect just the way it is?

There are a few other things you should know.

Becker tried to do to Hollywood what he did to books.  United Artists in a fit of insanity gave him a deal to make three movies, the first of which was “Three”. (One cannot make this stuff up.  Same Bruce Becker, I checked.)


Of this opus, the New York Times said:

“Three” strives for amateur status without ever quite achieving it.”

Mr. Becker’s contract was cancelled.

In parting, please do not take this review as suggesting that you not purchase “Backgammon for Blood”.  Au contraire – buy as many copies as you can find.  (Contact me for the best prices.)  They are wonderful gifts, and are especially suited for presentation to obnoxious in-laws.   Make sure the in-law in question has time to thoroughly read and digest the book.  Then play them for money.  Be careful of winning so much that they are forced to move in with you.

PS – “Backgammon for Blood” by Becker should in no way be confused with an excellent book of the same name by Chris Bray, available through Amazon.


The Crawford Rule

Below is an explanation of the Crawford Rule and some post-Crawford strategy along with an amusing anecdote by way of illustration.

This comes to us courtesy of “Backgammon to Win” by Chris Bray available for purchase at Flint Backgammon Boutique. The other book referenced is “The Backgammon Book” by Oswald Jacoby & John Crawford which is available from us, just email if you would like to purchase a copy.

braybg book

In the first game after one player reaches match point, for example leading 6-2 in a match to 7, the doubling cube may not be used.  This is known as the Crawford Rule and is named after the famous American master John Crawford who did so much to popularize backgammon in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  His book, “The Backgammon Book” co-authored with Oswald Jacoby, provides a fascinating insight into the history of backgammon.  The game with the Crawford Rule in effect is called the Crawford Game.

The reason for the Crawford Rule is that after one player reaches match point his opponent has no reason not to double on his first roll of each subsequent game – as he will lose the match anyway if he loses the game, but will win 2 points per game (or 4 if he wins a gammon) if he wins.  Because this tactic considerably favors the trailing player, Crawford introduced the rule to try to redress the balance somewhat in favor of the leader.  The rule quickly gained universal acceptance and I have never played a tournament in which it was not in use.

The oft-told anecdote is that of Walter Cooke, sadly now deceased, playing a kindly old Greek gentleman in a 13 point match at London’s Clermont Club.  Walter established a 12-1 lead.  His opponent ground out the next three games to bring the score to 12-4.  At this point Walter pointed out to his opponent that he should double on the first roll of each game as he had nothing to lose.  The Greek thanked him and took the advice, winning two doubled gammons in a row to bring the score to 12-12.

At the start of the next game he proudly announced, “I don’t think I need to double this one” and promptly went on to win the match.  Bemused, Walter strolled over to the draw sheet to see who had benefited from his misplaced generosity, only to discover that the beneficiary was Aristotle Onassis!


So remember, once the Crawford Game is over, the trailer should double the leader at his first opportunity.

Finally! Real Backgammon Information

Contributed by Gerry Tansey

(Thanks Gerry!)

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for – real news you can use from Gerry Tansey, a source you can trust!

Take it away Gerry:

Tansey Position


The match score can have a huge effect on the proper checker play.  In this position, Black is trailing 3-2 in a 5-point match and gave an aggressive double earlier in the game.  However, the tide has turned a bit, and now Black must make do with this roll of 43.

Note that since a 2-cube is in play, Black will lose the match if he loses this game.  Additionally, a gammon loss for Black carries no additional penalty.  Therefore, Black can afford to make the play that gives him the best chance of winning the game without worrying about losing a gammon.  But what is that play?

Red has quite a few threats, but the most deadly is making the 4 point and creating a five-point prime.  If Red is allowed to carry out this threat, Black will be nearly completely dead, as he will have three checkers blockaded and a front position that is nearing collapse.

The threats are so great that the best play is for Black to put Red on the bar by breaking his 6-point with the move 24/21 6/2*! After this play, Red has 9 numbers that dance, after which Black may be able to rebuild his board, make an advanced anchor, escape a checker, or hit another opposing checker.  Black has some real winning chances on Red’s 9 fans.  However, even if Black hits, all is not lost, as White may be able to establish an anchor or two in Black’s home board and generate some chances with a late hit.  Every other play is a serious error.

This type of play is known as a “banana split” (as in “You’d have to be bananas to make that play”).  In this particular position, the play would be too risky if White’s gammon losses hurt him, but there do exist other positions where the banana split is right even if the “banana splitter’s” gammon losses matter.  If your opponent’s threats are intolerable, sometimes you must take extreme measures to keep your opponent from carrying out those threats.


   1. Rollout¹    24/21 6/2*                   eq:-0.305
      Player:   30.56% (G:8.81% B:0.31%)
      Opponent: 69.44% (G:37.28% B:11.26%)
      Confidence: ±0.006 (-0.311..-0.299) – [100.0%]
      Duration: 11 minutes 39 seconds

    2. Rollout¹    24/21 12/8                   eq:-0.372 (-0.067)
      Player:   28.98% (G:5.13% B:0.24%)
      Opponent: 71.02% (G:29.66% B:4.85%)
      Confidence: ±0.005 (-0.377..-0.367) – [0.0%]
      Duration: 8 minutes 24 seconds

    3. Rollout¹    13/6                         eq:-0.375 (-0.070)
      Player:   28.39% (G:6.00% B:0.23%)
      Opponent: 71.61% (G:27.04% B:6.55%)
      Confidence: ±0.005 (-0.380..-0.370) – [0.0%]
      Duration: 7 minutes 31 seconds

    4. Rollout¹    24/21 13/9                   eq:-0.388 (-0.083)
      Player:   28.19% (G:5.08% B:0.24%)
      Opponent: 71.81% (G:31.54% B:4.88%)
      Confidence: ±0.005 (-0.393..-0.383) – [0.0%]
      Duration: 7 minutes 49 seconds

    5. Rollout¹    12/5                         eq:-0.399 (-0.095)
      Player:   27.33% (G:5.67% B:0.24%)
      Opponent: 72.67% (G:27.28% B:6.29%)
      Confidence: ±0.005 (-0.405..-0.394) – [0.0%]
      Duration: 8 minutes 17 seconds

¹  1296 Games rolled with Variance Reduction.
   Moves: 3-ply, cube decisions: XG Roller

eXtreme Gammon Version: 2.10, MET: Kazaross XG2


Thanks Everyone!!

Thanks to everyone for coming out to our first Tournament last night!  I hope everyone enjoyed participating as much as we enjoyed organizing it.  

Congratulations to our winners and finalists:

Steve Parrish and Dennis Stroup

Open Consolation  
Jon Schoenecker and Jennifer Thomas

Ozzy and John Jacobsen

Intermediate Consolation
Mike Berger and George Robbins

In the category of things I am bad at besides math, we can now count working a new camera well enough to take decent photos.  So we will be trying that again next time.

Speaking of next time, we will be meeting formally for a tournament on September 8th, so please come back.  Three players will start giving free lessons to anyone interested at 5:00 pm on the 8th.

On Labor Day, while we will not have a formal tournament, some people have expressed interest in just getting together to play so drop by the Station if you have some time.

Keep checking back here and on Facebook (St. Louis Backgammon Club).

Thanks again!


Backgammon for the Literary Set

by Jana Bohrer

And now our new feature – the St. Louis Backgammon Club Book Review.

Obe Book

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago (1969); in a kingdom far, far away; there lived a handsome prince.


Prince Alexis Obolensky




And in this kingdom, all the people played backgammon.  Especially the cool people.

Tina Turner, Lucille Ball, John Huston, Mick Jagger, Mohammed Ali

Tina Turner, Lucille Ball, John Huston, Mick Jagger, Mohammed Ali

And so the prince declared he would write a book for the people.  He set forth modest goals as befits a humble monarch:

“With this book, you will learn all that can be taught about backgammon.”

And he told the populous:

“Backgammon has always been a pastime of the aristocratic and the rich.  It has always been not only respectable, but highly desirable.”

(Which goes to show that this kingdom is either imaginary, or the Prince is delusional.  Because in the real world…)

no bg

And the Prince assured the peasants that:

“…after you have learned to play, undoubtedly you will never again be the same person.  For after all, you will have become a backgammon player.  And that is a very special breed of humanity indeed.”hulk

The Prince first expounded on the opening rolls.

He noted that not making the 3 point with an opening 5-3, and instead coming down with 2,”Is considered by aggressive players to be a better move”.

The Prince also decried the fact that, alas,

“No modern computer can figure the percentage of luck against skill in most gambling games.”

We've Come a Long Way Baby!

We’ve Come a Long Way Baby!


Then the Prince peppered the plebian players with pithy wisdom such as:

Always make a prime “when your opponent has thrown better dice than you.”
(If you throw better dice and make a prime anyway, is it wrong?)

And “the running game is the offensive strategy”.
(Blitzing hadn’t been invented yet.)

And my personal favorite.  A back game is a “masochistic machination”.

Then Prince then closed this excellent backgammon tome with chapters on matters closest to his heart – doubling, and gambling.


“The doubling block is a square die larger than the dice rolled in the game.”

(So THAT’S what that is!  I’ll have to write an apology letter to Parker Brothers.  I thought it was supposed to be a spare pair of dice but they forgot to include one. So I wrote them a nasty letter.)

“On each face of the block are numbers: two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two and sixty-four.”

(A big shout out here to Walter Trice.  After long and careful observation, Walter deduced that:

1. The numbers on the block were “doubling” in size starting with the number 2.
2. He was also intrigued by the shape of the block which struck him as “cubic” in nature.

Experiments proved he was correct on both counts, and in 1972, Walter won the Nobel Prize in Mathematics for his discovery of the “Doubling Cube”.  The cube quickly overtook the block in popularity and is used to this day.)

“Doubling blocks are made of different materials such as opaque plastic, ivory, wood, precious metals or clear plastic.”

(…or origami paper, nano robots,  bicycle spokes, twigs, lead, duct tape, Shredded Wheat squares and glue…..)


“There are now doubling blocks that start with the number 1.” 

(And for those players who are either frugal or are on a tight gambling budget, blocks are now available starting with 1/32!)


Let’s just pause here and think about all the blockhead jokes we can make…you know you want to.

Playing for Money

“One of the best ways to improve your game is to play for money.  Nobody likes to lose money…”


“You should always play for the maximum stakes you can afford to lose.  This subconsciously makes you ‘care’ and concentrate on what you are doing.”

(I don’t know about you, but it makes me care.  A LOT.  Consciously.)Bank-Foreclosures-Listings

And then the Prince gave the public one final piece of advice before living happily ever after:

“Perhaps the most important factor in determining a good player is his knowing exactly when to play and exactly when to quit.”

Good advice that has resonated through the ages.

An Explanation of Why I Do Not Explain Backgammon

by Jana Bohrer

It has been suggested by the co-Director of the St. Louis Backgammon Club, that this site should, at some point, contain useful information about backgammon.  Things such as positions, analyses, tables with numbers in them and things of that nature.


I was forced to remind him that I am not in any way qualified to give the neighbor’s dog useful information about backgammon, let alone a human.

madonnaAmusing perhaps – informative no.

You might wonder why the co-Director doesn’t contribute this useful information himself .  He has a really, really good reason.  For the moment, he has been confined, by yours truly, to Home Improvement Hell, not to be released for any leisure activity until he’s done with “The List”. Which is a topic for another time.  The good news is that someday – I hope – he will be free at last, and able to contribute.

There are two reasons I am unqualified to dispense useful backgammon information.  1.  Despite enthusiasm, love for the game, and years of expert tutelage, I am not a very good player.  2.  I am numerically illiterate.  I do not mean “bad at math”, I mean “cannot count”.  The rest of this discussion will be about math.  My travails with the game itself can be covered later.

A glance at this picture of my algebra homework from junior high should convince you.  I have not improved.

A glance at this picture of my algebra homework from junior high should illustrate the depths of my math problem.

This illiteracy means that whenever someone says, “pip count”, “percentage wins”, “gammon probability” or “negative equity” – I pass out.  That’s why the co-director and I have managed to remain in a relationship for 19 years.  I have spent most of them in a coma.

And if, God forbid, I am exposed to a match equity table I start convulsing.


This is not one of Jake’s tables. This is waaay more simple than Jake’s tables.

I was once given a copy of Jake Jacob’s wonderful book “Can a Fish Taste Twice as Good?”  I loved it.  It was well-written and contained a host of useful ideas.  I would highly recommend it to anyone.  And I was fine as long as I stuck to understanding the concepts without researching the mathematical underpinnings.  But one day I accidentally turned to the Appendices where the Tables were kept.  It took two rounds of shock treatment before I was able to speak again.

There have been attempts made over the years to correct this deficiency in me. Once, “Mr. I Can Do Quadratic Equations In My Head” (the co-director) suggested that he could succeed where all others had failed and teach me math.  He suggested that it would be “fun” and “interesting” and that it was “a great way for us to do something together”.  What could possibly go wrong?!plan

So, he started with something he thought was simple – the math SAT.  After all, I had taken it and had attended college, surely I would remember something.  Being the kind of people that have practice SAT books handy even though we have no children of the age to need them, he dug one up and we got started.  The idea was that I would do a practice test and grade it.  Following that, he would come in and explain the ones I got wrong and show me the correct way to do them.

It went fine until the explanation portion of the program.  It tended to go something like this:

“Okay, I see what you did wrong.  So you know that this = this, right?  And so then you do this…..(long explanation leading to answer).”


“What do you mean ‘Why?’.  I showed you why.  It’s obvious, don’t you know that…(more explanation with diagrams).”


“But I don’t know how to explain why.  It just is, it’s obvious, self-evident, it’s based on something you learned in third grade…”


save image

There were variations, sometimes I said, “How?”

In any case, to his everlasting credit, he just took some Xanax and soldiered on.  He really did try.  And mostly, in a mild and patient tone with illustrations!  But a human being has limits.  At some point, he raised his voice and I threw the book at him – literally.  Okay fine, maybe I threw the book and then he yelled, “Ow!”  It’s all sort of hazy.

However it happened, we decided that perhaps, as he gently put it, “Numbers are not your friends, dear.  And they never will be.  I think we should accept that now.”

That would have been all, but for one post-script.  My pseudo math teacher is close friends with a real college math professor in Dallas.  And I guess the experience was one he felt he needed to share.  Perhaps to ward off post-traumatic stress disorder.  So he called the Professor.phone

I was in the other room so I can only reproduce the part of the conversation that I heard.

“Hi Shane.  You will not believe what I did today.  I thought….Stupidest thing I ever did…My head hurts… first grader….”

“You’re right, I think I do have masochistic tendencies.  There’s no other way to explain it.”

“No, it’s not me.  Believe me, you couldn’t do it, no one could.  For example….Then she said….Yes, you heard right she said the answer was…No I’m not joking, seriously…Yes, she was serious….No head injury that I know of….But that wasn’t the best one….(giggling followed by uproarious laughter, then more laughter, then MORE laughter…).”

And the moral of the story is he found out that:

1.  It is not possible or wise to teach me math.

2. A trampoline is not a bad bed, and if it rains, is a decent umbrella.


Gaby and the “C” – Say A Little Prayer For Me

By Jana Bohrer

C – Consider Potential Gain vs. Potential Loss
U – Use the Cube as a Weapon, NOT as a Gift
B – Blend Checker Play and Cube Action
E – Eliminate Emotional Influence

the donaldSee Gaby Horowitz and the C.U.B.E

Oh the angst of Considering Potential Gain vs. Potential Loss.



(You know the drill, hit play and then just belt it out.)

Say A Little Prayer For Me

My mind I must make up,
Before this 2 cube I take up.
So say a little prayer for me.
I’m counting the pips now,
And feeling my chances dip now.
So say a little prayer for me.

To take it, to take it, might lose me the match.
Oh, should I take it?
To take it, to take it puts me in a spot.
I want to take it.
To take it, to take it I must hit a blot.
I fear to take it,
Will only mean heartbreak for me.

But what if I drop it?
I’ll lose my chance to re-pop it.
Oh say a little prayer for me.
Behind in this match-up,
If I drop, I might not catch-up.
Oh say a little prayer for me.

To drop it, to drop it, might lose me the match.
Oh should I drop it?
To drop it, to drop it puts me in a spot.
I want to drop it.
To drop it, to drop it? I might hit a blot.
I fear to drop it,
Will only mean heartbreak for me.

My mind I must make up,
Before this 2 cube I take up.
So say a little prayer for me
Behind in this match-up,
If I drop, I might not catch-up.
Oh say a little prayer for me.

Drop/take or take/drop-I hear the clock tick.
I’m really nervous.
Drop/take or take/drop, I can’t seem to pick.
I’m going crazy!
Drop/take or take/drop, choose one! Can’t you see,
My only choices,
Will only mean heartbreak for me?

Repeat and/or improvise
Pretty soon we’ll have enough for a really bad backgammon ALBUM!!
It’ll be us and Weird Al at the Superbowl CDXXVIX.ii.2.b Halftime!!
Oh the horror!!!!!!!!!!!

If you DO want Weird Al at the Superbowl click here:
There’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell, but signing a petition is fun.  Kinda.


The U. and B. a Backgammon Limerick

by Jana Bohrer

Next up in our ongoing series – a twofer – with poetry!


See Gaby Horowitz and the C.U.B.E

U – Use the Cube as a Weapon, NOT as a Gift &
B – Blend Checker Play and Cube Action

(Remember while you groan, it’s not that easy.  You try it sometime.)

I once knew a player from Akron,
Who blent checker play and cube action.
He first threw the men,
The cube followed them.
And they landed mixed up in the bathroom.

It’s a true story too.  Except for a few major details.

I have never known a player from Akron.  If I ever did know a player from Akron, I apologize.  I didn’t know I knew you.

You were an unknown known.  As it were.

Anyway, the player involved in the equipment tossing was in a post-tournament chouette, and I’m afraid his scoresheet didn’t look too healthy.  At around 4:00 am, when the human spirit is at its lowest ebb, this player was in a losing race.  He rolled 2-1 – twice.  But it was only after his opponent rolled a 6-6, and he rolled a 2-1 for the third time that he cracked.  He did not use the cube as a weapon, nor did he throw the checkers.  That was poetic license.

What he did do was express some frustration with his dice by “rolling” them about 50 feet into the bathroom where they bounced around like Chicklets.  It was a good pitch.  Judging from his set up and finger position, I think it was a knuckle ball curve for a strike right over the toilet bowl. kc

They whizzed right by the head of his opponent sitting opposite, who swears he could hear a small sonic boom as they went by.  I don’t believe that though, he was too busy ducking under the table to notice much of anything in my opinion.cs

Well, it took a while to locate the dice. They were the tiny precision kind, and they were white, so they sort of blended in with the hotel bathroom decor.  But it was the damndest thing,  when we found them he had rolled – 6-6!  Making him the record-holder for “Longest Shooter of Boxcars in a Non-Tournament Situation”.

PS – None of the above is really true either.  Probably.

Gaby and the E

by Jana Bohrer

(I apologize for the absence of promised posts for a couple of days.  A series of crises involving our hot water heater, vice grips, a car battery, a chipmunk and Flex Seal intervened.  Someday, when I’ve recovered from the trauma, I’ll try to speak about it.)

“I will only date women who are rich, intelligent and beautiful.  Like me.” Gaby Horowitz gaby

That quote has absolutely nothing to do with what follows.  But it was just too good not to work in somewhere. My last post was regarding Gaby’s C.U.B.E. mnemonic:

C – Consider Potential Gain vs. Potential Loss

U – Use the Cube as a Weapon, NOT as a Gift

B – Blend Checker Play and Cube Action

E – Eliminate Emotional Influence

(See “Gaby Horowitz and the C.U.B.E.”)

Today I’m going to talk about the “E”. (Yes, I know CUBE starts with C and this is backwards, but I’m having writer’s block on the C.) For Gaby, eliminating emotions ensured icy rationality when considering whether to take or double.  This is excellent advice.  And, I’m sure, if one follows it one can improve one’s game and all that jazz.  But there are some times in backgammon, as in life, when it is right to be ruled by fear. And there is an even better reason to eliminate emotional influence:


An Illustrative Nightmare
(Any resemblance to 99% of backgammon players, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)

Once upon a time, at a tournament far, far away, I came across a player who was steaming.

steamerI know this is hard to believe, as this type of behavior is rarely – if ever – encountered in backgammon.  But it’s true. This player had not been successful in eliminating his emotions.  But, he had eliminated himself from the tournament very efficiently.  And, to add insult to injury, his ejection was the result of losing a match to a person he KNEW to be vastly inferior to himself.  A novice playing in her first tournament who had obviously ended up in the wrong division.

So this player and his bruised ego were dazedly wandering around the hotel bar, clutching a position card and a shot of whiskey. millandWarning – NEVER, and I mean NEVER approach a player who has just been knocked out of a tournament if said player is holding a position card.

Or a phone on which he might have taken a picture of a position.

Or an Etch-a-Sketch on which he might draw a position. If you approach and talk to that player without proper lifesaving equipment – you will drown with him. hand Well gentle reader, no one had ever given me the warning I just gave you.  (You’re welcome.)

So I not only walked right up to that player.  I asked if he was okay.  AND THEN I ASKED IF HE WANTED TO TALK ABOUT IT!  The only excuse I have is that I was young and dumb then. wile-e-coyote

The next moments are very confused.  I’m not sure what happened. There was a sense of whirling disorientation accompanied by stabbing pain.

When I regained consciousness, I was in a booth staring down at that damn position card.  I don’t know how I got there.  The player was seemingly attacking the card with a crayon while gesticulating wildly.  As my hearing gradually returned, I began to catch on.  He had the momentum of a runaway train.  I dug in and hung on for dear life:   train “…..by that time…Wait, no, that’s not it.  Hold on, I had a man here and this one was over  on the 17 or 18 – somewhere in the outfield – and she was anchored on my deuce not the ace.  I think.” “Anyway, all I have to do is win the f****** game.” (I sense this may be where the trouble begins.)

At this point, a Good Samaritan appeared.  Not to rescue me – but to “clarify” the position.dudley

“No dude.  Sooooo not like this.  (Great.  Now the new doofus is wielding the crayon.) You were here, and she did this, then you rolled a 5-2 and you went there.  But she had already gone there so it was more like this.  I was there man and I gotta tell ya, I feel ya’ man.  That was some sick s**** that just went down.  Sorry man”

(Before I could subdue, restrain and put him in my place – he was gone.  The train rolled on.)d2


“Right, and…wait she was on my ace with at least one.  And then she rolled double ones and got really creative.”  (It’s always amuses me that only in backgammon does creative = sub-moronically stupid.)

“… and she took one from here and then two or one from here and I think she split with the last one.  Or slotted.  Then she took it all back 2 or 3 times and it ended up like this.”

(At this point it appears that she may have made an illegal move by playing 7 ones and putting her own man on the bar.  It was too much.  The train hit me.)



(I’m not sure the position he’s depicting by now is possible given the constraints of physics.)

“…I don’t  think even Table I.3-a.iii/5 covers this…”

(I’m afraid that anyone discussing match equity always makes me black out, so I think I missed some critical information.)

“…and again with the 6-6, she was like Satan…”

“ …gammoned me… out…*!*^#&^%@&#*&(*(@*&#*@&^$&@^&^#^%@(^”

And then, gentle reader, I awoke.

I know what enquiring minds want to know.  But, alas, all I have left is this:



And the moral of the story is  – forget what Gaby told you.

When the novice redoubles you to 8 – be afraid, be very afraid and Eliminate Encredible (need word)