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Subject: King of Roll & Move rss

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Tuomas Korppi
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Backgammon is deceptively simple. The board consists of 24 adjacent points, and each player has two dice and 15 checkers. The players roll the dice and move their checkers according to the dice roll. The object of the game is to get the checkers in six endmost points of the board, and then remove them off the board with suitable dice rolls. The first player to succeed in this wins. The game is complicated by the fact that if there's a single checker in some point, the opponent may hit it by landing on the same point, and the hit checker must start its journey again from the beginning. If there are two or more your checkers in some point, the opponent may not land on that point.

So, the game is simple roll & move. The strategy is introduced to the game by the rule that after dice roll the player may decide which of his checkers he moves according to the dice roll. This is the only choice the player has, but it is enough to turn the game into a game of strategy. I can almost certainly beat a beginner, and there are experts who can almost certainly beat me.

The basic strategy is to build a sequence of adjacent points occupied by two of your chekers each so that the opponent is blocked behind the sequence of points.

The basic dilemma in the game is when and where to leave single checkers that may be hit. You must leave single checkers sooner or later, but you must try to leave them so that either you do not mind them being hit, or if they are not hit, they will serve a higher strategical purpose, for example, they help building the wall described in the previous paragraph.

A further strategical dimension is added to the game by the doubling cube. The player may double the stakes in the game, and the opponent may either accept or resign the game and lose the original stakes. When to double and when to accept a double add extra dilemmas. (The rule of thumb is that you double when your probability of winning is 75% and you accept a double if you have at least 25% chance of winning, but estimating these probabilities in a real game situation is far from trivial.)

The drawback of the doubling cube is that it requires either money stakes or playing a series of games to a pre-agreed number of points. (So that an undoubled game is worth one point, and each double doubles the value of the game.) A single game, without money stakes, must be played without this extra dimension in strategy.

The traditional backgammon board is wooden, built inside a small suitcase used to store the checkers, the dice and the dice cups. IMO this is a luxury compared to flimsy cardboard used in most modern board games.

The traditional board design is a bit misleading, since it consists of two opposing rows of twelve points, although mathematically the board is just 24 adjacent points. Also there's no indication in the board in which end the 12 point rows are "glued together", but it must be agreed by the players and memorized throughout the game (although this usually represents no problem for players with at least a bit experience).
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Tim Koppang
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Westmont
Illinois
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Good review and summary of basic strategy. I'm not sure I understood your last paragraph though.

Also, you fail to capture just how exciting (or devastating) Backgammon can be. One dramatic come from behind victory, and you'll be hooked!
 
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Conan McNamara
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Brunswick
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Punainen Nörtti wrote:
Also there's no indication in the board in which end the 12 point rows are "glued together", but it must be agreed by the players and memorized throughout the game (although this usually represents no problem for players with at least a bit experience).


Traditionally the board is arranged so the 'home' side of the board is closest to the dominant light source (whether it's a lamp or sunlight
), so the 'glued together' edge would be away from the light.

A nice review for a great game.
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Chris Bender
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New River
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Pip Count 167 wrote:
Traditionally the board is arranged so the 'home' side of the board is closest to the dominant light source (whether it's a lamp or sunlight), so the 'glued together' edge would be away from the light.


I did not know that. Very interesting.

I love this game.
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