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Thoughts On Backgammon
Peter Rose

Greetings
I love backgammon. And this sums up how I play: "Throw, take, pass, double, or walk. No tears. All you need to know." I consider it the ultimate game, even over chess or poker - both of which I have extensive experience in. And that's all I have to say about it. If you play backgammon, then you know what I'm talking about. If you don't play backgammon: you don't get it, won't get it, and it's not really that important that you do get it.

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Ok, how's that again now, Colin? How's that "I'm The Man" go again? Talk slow and soft because I'm old and don't play well and think you would be tasty and crunchy... Check it out: The Great 2005 Super Bowl Backgammon Tournament And Pizza Party 02/06/05!

My father had taught me both chess and poker when I was 7. I played chess pretty regularly throughout my childhood. I even studied books - lots of books. I actually enjoyed spending hours going thorough positions and reading all the theory. I had this passion well into my young adult years. But it was hard to find opponents with the same interests and level of play as myself. There were plenty of chess hacks who knew little more than how the pieces moved. And I got my clock cleaned pretty good every time I'd venture down to the Boston Chess Club by the really serious players. But it was really hard to find someone I was evenly matched with to have the sort of rousing friendly games I had seen my father and his friends have.

I finally had to give it up. I had read all the books I could stand. And with my short term memory preventing me from memorizing the first 10 moves of 20 opening series, I saw that I was forever doomed to be a lonely chess hacker: too good for the majority of people and totally inadequate to compete in the tall weeds with the big dogs. Besides, I had been studying and playing poker for about as long as I had chess. I was pretty good at it, too. So I turned my focus to that. I did ok. I usually won, but I was only playing at first in the smaller quarter/dollar type games.

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Somebody has to cook! Here is chef Rose in the early stages of meal preparation. Note the Killian's Irish Red bottle at the close reach! There was some concern as to my adding bay leaves and Dijon mustard to the mix, but they were all glad I did when the meal finally came out - and on time, I might add! Check it out: The Great 2005 St. Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Irish Feast 03/19/05!

I really dug into the books and it all made great sense to me. So, after a few years I kicked up the stakes to the dollar/five level. I did well. I enjoyed playing so much, I went out to Las Vegas once and Atlantic City. Atlantic City was closer to Boston for me. And cheaper to get to as well. But the day traffic in the Atlantic City casinos didn't appeal to me. So I just played a lot of home games.

However, I found that my attention just couldn't be held until I had a week's salary on the table. So I upped my playing level another step and played larger games for a few years. I made enough to feel good about my skill. Then I ran into a professional poker player - someone who had actually lived off his winnings from the table. He was brutal. He cleaned me out pretty good one night before I caught on and politely left. I haven't played serious poker since. I realized I wasn't cut out to be a professional poker player and I just don't have time to worry about card sharks and cheats.

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Yes, I can drink wine and throw the dice at the same time and still kick the crap out of you... Check it out: The Great 2005 One Year At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration 06/18/05!

All that set the stage sometime in the early 1980's for me to be receptive to a friend's pitch that I learn backgammon. I had always thought chess was the oldest game, and this was part of its fascination for me. But after looking into it, I found that backgammon is the oldest board game going back 5,000 years to Ur in Mesopotamia. In an expedition to Ur in the 1920's, L. Woolley, a British archaeologist, uncovered several inlaid game boards made by the Sumerians which were very similar to our modern backgammon board format. I was really intrigued by this and was hooked! I really got into studying the game and started playing as often as I could. In the late 1990s, I wrote a rather humorous expanded discussion of all of this called Rant Number 4: A Rant Concerning Backgammon.

Backgammon is a unique mix of strategy, tactics, luck, and bravado all mixed together to challenge the competitor to their utmost. You are pushed to the max for an intense 8 to 15 minutes of all out battle.

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Scott and I on the other hand needed no encouragement to eat. In fact, we are so versatile that we can not only eat but play backgammon and eat at the same time! And I - probably because I'm older and wiser (or just meaner) - can eat, play, and drink wine at the same time! I'm a riot, eh? Check it out: The Great 2005 Dog Days of Summer Backgammon Tournament And Boc Choy Cold Salad Fest 08/20/05!

Actually, on a little more serious note, I enjoy backgammon for more than all that hoop-la I mentioned. I enjoy it because of its very social nature. Not only can you chat with your opponent but you can mix in talking with those at other boards or just the kibitzers in the room.

With chess, it's full concentration for an hour and a half to two hours - unless you are good enough to play speed chess, but even that requires tremendous concentration. I never saw anything like the banter during a chess game that the movie "Searching For Bobby Fisher" portrays. Chess is just way too serious. And poker, well I don't know anyone who plays poker for fun - it's always for money and it's always dead serious. But even in money backgammon, the social aspects of the game are still there.

Don't get me wrong: backgammon requires deep concentration but it's not the same as chess. In chess, you have to think 3, 4, 5 or more moves ahead. In backgammon there is no way to think that far ahead. Many times, the best you can do is just worry about how the current move supports your overall strategy. That's because the next throw of the dice could change the tactical situation 180 degrees on you. But that's the attraction to backgammon. It's all totally unknown. It's all about probability and risk-reward analysis.

View From The Cheap Seats
Thoughts on play for the rest of us
I'm actually too busy playing backgammon to write about it. Pretty rude, eh?

But I will say this - what's really nice about backgammon is that you can learn how to play in about fifteen minutes. Even after just a few months of play, you begin to see some of the deep sophistication of the game; you learn pretty fast that it's not just about the tactics of moving, but rather there are all sorts of complex interweaving strategies to constantly challenge you - no matter how many years you play the game.

Sure, the more experienced player will win a majority of the time against you - as would be the case in any contest of skill. However, with backgammon - and because of the randomness of the dice - even a beginner can give a pretty good thumping to a far more experienced player at times.

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Checking out the action between Marissa and Rick at The Great 2005 Thanksgiving Backgammon Tournament And Gobbler Bragging Rights 11/19/05!

One of the aspects of backgammon that helps level the field had its origins in the 1920s when an American introduced the doubling cube to the game. This changed the complexity of the game considerably and gave it new levels of excitement. By the 1980s there were tournaments and tournament tours all over the world. And it seemed you couldn't go into an upscale lounge where either the bar tables were laid out in backgammon boards or there were boards available for use. Backgammon was everywhere.

But then poker captured the imagination of the public and interest in backgammon fell off. But as people began to discover in the mid 2000s that poker is more fun - and considerably safer - to watch others play on TV than it sometimes is to play yourself, backgammon began finding its way back into attention.

Many of the top backgammon champions of the 1970s, however, shifted over to poker where there was more action and more money. Some of these guys had played in the past for literally thousands of dollars a point, but in poker where a single bet could be twenty, fifty, or hundred thousand dollars or more, they find their analytic skills honed from backgammon well suited to poker. So, a whole new breed of player has begun to emerge - one that rides upon the theoretical foundations laid by these great players of the past as well as considerable research with automated backgammon computer bots.

   "Double, take, pass, or walk; all you need to know."
   - Peter Rose

Regardless of all the statistical power of the computer to calculate tactical odds of a particular move in isolation to the reality of live play, backgammon over the board is one the most complex and demanding games there is. And it will always be that way because the doubling cube brings in the emotional aspect that a computer or set of odds tables never can evaluate.

And so, based on the above discussion, using the cube allows players who may be much more inexperienced than their opponent to win a game by throwing a double when they might in fact be doomed to loss if the game were to be played out. For us - we don't want to just play for points because someone could get wild and win a 32 point match but that might not reflect their overall ability in relation to the group. Nor would just counting games played - some players are better in the end game similar to how in poker if you have a good hand you want to bet it to get people out of the game so they don't draw out on you.

So, we play for matches won - a match is playing a series of games with an opponent until one person has won 2 points. You score that as 1 match win. Now that could be done in 1 game if someone throws the cube right away, but it might take as many as 3 games. The 1st place winner is the person winning the most matches.

Anyway, just my random views of the game from the cheap seats.

Picture Gallery and Parties

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This is what happens after dinner and you are trying to get your score up to at least qualify for the finals. Did this impress Sherrie? Noooooooooooo. Of course not. Not even the shades threw her off. She hammered me pretty good. Thanks. I'll have another sip of wine... about the only good thing I seemed to be able to do all night! Check it out: The Great 2005 Post Labor Day Get Off The Beach Backgammon Tournament And Pasta With Herbed Scallops Finale 09/17/05!
2004
  • 09/04/04: The Great 2004 Labor Day Backgammon Tournament and Spaghetti Feed!
  • 10/31/04: The Great 2004 Halloween Backgammon Party And Pizza Bash!
  • 11/13/04: The Great 2004 Thanksgiving Backgammon Party And Chinese Stir Fry Ordeal!

2005

  • 01/29/05: The Great 2005 Welcome In The New Year Backgammon Tournament And Italian Risotto coi Stuff Party!
  • 02/06/05: The Great 2005 Super Bowl Backgammon Tournament And Pizza Party!
  • 03/12/05: The Great 2005 St. Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Irish Feast!
  • 04/23/05: The Great 2005 Spring Fling Backgammon Tournament And Pizza Special!
  • 05/14/05: The Great 2005 Pre Memorial Day Backgammon Tournament And Chinese Wok-A-Thon!
  • 06/18/05: The Great 2005 One Year At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration!
  • 07/16/05: The Great 2005 4th of July Backgammon Tournament And Mediterranean Vegetables Extravaganza!
  • 08/20/05: The Great 2005 Dog Days of Summer Backgammon Tournament And Boc Choy Cold Salad Fest!
  • 09/17/05: The Great 2005 Post Labor Day Get Off The Beach Backgammon Tournament And Pasta With Herbed Scallops Finale!
  • 10/29/05: The Great 2005 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Italian Rigatoni With Meat Sauce Scare-A-Thon!
  • 11/19/05: The Great 2005 Thanksgiving Backgammon Tournament And Gobbler Bragging Rights!

2006

  • 01/14/06: The Great 2006 New Years Backgammon Tournament And 3 Fire Chili Party!
  • 02/03/06: The Great 2006 Super Bowl Backgammon Tournament And Endzone Pile Up Party!
  • 03/11/06: The Great 2006 St. Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Irish Feast!
  • 03/18/06: The Great 2006 Unemployed Backgammon Tournament And Pot Luck Pity Party!
  • 04/22/06: The Great 2006 Spring Into Spring Backgammon Tournament And Simple Spaghetti Blaze!
  • 05/06/06: The Great 2006 Cinco de Mayo Backgammon Tournament And Arroz Con Pollo Mexican Fiesta!
  • 06/10/06: The Great 2006 Two Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration!
  • 07/08/06: The Great 2006 4th of July Backgammon Tournament And Chinese Pork and Bamboo Shoots Stir Fry Fireworks!
  • 09/16/06: The Great 2006 Labor Day Backgammon Tournament And Sea Scallops With Summer Squash Summer Kick Off!
  • 10/27/06: The Great 2006 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Friday Night Thriller!
  • 11/17/06: The Great 2006 Thanksgiving Backgammon Tournament And Headless Turkey Trot!

2007

  • 01/19/07: The Great 2007 Welcome In The New Year Backgammon Tournament And Friday Night Fights!
  • 03/17/07: The Great 2007 St. Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Irish Feast!
  • 05/26/07: The Great 2007 Memorial Day Backgammon Tournament And Vegan Experiment!
  • 06/16/07: The Great 2007 Three Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration!
  • 07/28/07: The Great 2007 Late Summer Kickoff Backgammon Tournament And Pizza Mash — [my 30th get together!]
  • 09/16/07: The Great 2007 End Of Summer Backgammon Tournament And Talk Like A Pirate Pizza Rush!
  • 10/27/07: The Great 2007 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Spanish Pork With Pisto Gallows Last Dinner!
  • 12/07/07: The Great 2007 First Snow Backgammon Tournament And Pizza Warmup Party!
  • 12/22/07: The Great 2007 First Day Of Winter Backgammon Tournament and Piled High Spaghetti Feed!

2008

  • 01/01/08: The Great 2008 New Years Eve And All Day Open House Backgammon Tournament and Ham Feed!
  • 01/19/08: The Great 2008 Ununemployed Backgammon Tournament And Poor Mans Pizza Party!
  • 02/03/08: The Great 2008 Super Bowl Backgammon Tournament And Ranch Hand Chili Explosion!
  • 03/15/08: The Great 2008 St. Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Irish Feast!
  • 04/19/08: The Great 2008 April Showers Backgammon Tournament And Celestial Spring Vegetable Stir Fry!
  • 05/03/08: The Great 2008 Cinco de Mayo Backgammon Tournament And Arroz Con Pollo Mexican Fiesta! — [my 40th get together!]
  • 05/24/08: The Great 2008 Memorial Day and Short Notice Unemployed Backgammon Tournament And Other Foolishness Party!
  • 06/14/08: The Great 2008 Four Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration!
  • 07/05/08: The Great 2008 4th of July Backgammon Tournament And Chinese Schezuan Stir Fry Light em Up!
  • 09/20/08: The Great 2008 Talk Like A Pirate Backgammon Tournament And Scuttlebutt Pizza Barrel!
  • 11/01/08: The Great 2008 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Witches Stew Brew!
  • 11/22/08: The Great 2008 Thanksgiving Backgammon Tournament And Chicken Drumstick Substitute!

2009

  • 01/31/09: The Great 2009 Super Bowl Backgammon Tournament And No Close Huddle Chili Punt!
  • 03/14/09: The Great 2009 St. Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Irish Dinner Scrum!
  • 05/02/09: The Great 2009 Cinco de Mayo Backgammon Tournament And Arroz Con Pollo Victory Meal!
  • 06/20/09: The Great 2009 Five Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration! — [my 50th get together!]
  • 07/18/09: The Great 2009 Midsummer Nights Dream Backgammon Tournament And Risotto Stomp!
  • 09/19/09: The Great 2009 Talk Like A Pirate Backgammon Tournament And Walk The Plank Stew Voyage!
  • 10/24/09: The Great 2009 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Midnight Bean Tremors Brew!

2010

  • 03/13/10: The Great 2010 St Patricks Day Quadruple Event Backgammon Tournament And No Snow Stir Fry!
  • 04/10/10: The Great 2010 Post April Fools Backgammon Tournament And Thai Turmeric Surprise!
  • 05/08/10: The Great 2010 Cinco de Mayo Backgammon Tournament And Santa Fe Rice And Beans Border Feast!
  • 06/12/10: The Great 2010 Six Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration!
  • 07/03/10: The Great 2010 4th of July Backgammon Tournament And Chinese Stir Fry Fireworks!
  • 09/25/10: The Great 2010 Talk Like A Pirate Backgammon Tournament And Bilge Swill Stew Grub!
  • 11/13/10: The Great 2010 Thanksgiving Backgammon Tournament And Growling Chicken Bake Substitute! — [my 60th get together!]

2011

  • 01/15/11: The Great 2011 One Year Hip Replacement Ordeal Memorial Backgammon Tournament And Easy Pizza Walk! [no pictures]
  • 03/19/11: The Great 2011 St. Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Deep Pot Irish Stew Surprise!
  • 05/21/11: The Great 2011 Mr Rogers Cinco De Mayo Memorial Backgammon Tournament And Lose The Sweater Fiesta!
  • 06/25/11: The Great 2011 Seven Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration!
  • 09/17/11: The Great 2011 Talk Like A Pirate Backgammon Tournament And Caribbean Party Stew!
  • 10/29/11: The Great 2011 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Graveyard Maggot Stew Surprise!
  • 11/19/11: The Great 2011 Thanksgiving Backgammon Tournament And Spare The Turkey Substitute!

2012

  • 01/28/12: The Great 2012 Two Year Hip Replacement Ordeal Memorial Backgammon Tournament And Snowshoe Challenge!
  • 03/17/12: The Great 2012 St. Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Blarney Stone Irish Stew!
  • 05/05/12: The Great 2012 Cinco De Mayo Backgammon Tournament And Get Ready For Summer Rice and Beans Fest! — [my 70th get together!]
  • 06/09/12: The Great 2012 Eight Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration!
  • 07/07/12: The Great 2012 4th of July Backgammon Tournament And Firecracker Hot Dogs Blast!
  • 09/22/12: The Great 2012 Talk Like A Pirate Backgammon Tournament And Peg Leg Swill!

2013

  • 01/05/13: The Great 2013 Three Year Hip Replacement Ordeal Memorial Backgammon Tournament And New Year Celebration!
  • 02/23/13: The Great 2013 Nancarrow Memorial Celebration Moving Backgammon Tournament And Dinner Party!
  • 03/16/13: The Great 2013 St. Patricks Day and George Henry Lett Backgammon Tournament And Irish Dinner Party!
  • 05/04/13: The Great 2013 Cinco De Mayo Backgammon Tournament And Chili Cookoff Challenge!
  • 06/09/13: The Great 2013 Nine Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Summer Island Coconut Chicken Feast!
  • 07/06/13: The Great 2013 4th of July Backgammon Tournament And Light-em-up Spicy Black Bean Salad Explosion!
  • 08/10/13: The Great 2013 Dog Days of Summer Backgammon Tournament And Gazpacho Madness! — [my 80th get together!]
  • 09/21/13: The Great 2013 Talk Like A Pirate Backgammon Tournament And Cuban Black Bean Stew Surprise!
  • 11/02/13: The Great 2013 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Adams Broken Ribs Screamer Party!

2014

  • 01/11/14: The Great 2014 Four Year Memorial Hip Replacement Backgammon Tournament And New Year Celebration!
  • 03/15/14: The Great 2014 St Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Sorta Irish Pot Pie Try!
  • 04/05/14: The Great 2014 April Fools Day Backgammon Tournament And Fools Stew Dinner Party!
  • 05/03/14: The Great 2014 Spring Into Spring Backgammon Tournament And Green Veggie Dinner Party!
  • 06/14/14: The Great 2014 10 Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration!
  • 07/05/14: The Great 2014 4th of July Backgammon Tournament and Spicy Summer Beans and Dogs!
  • 08/16/14: The Great 2014 Mid Summer Break Backgammon Tournament and Country Ham Sizzler!
  • 09/20/14: The Great 2013 Talk Like A Pirate Backgammon Tournament And Beef Stew Over Hardtack! — [my 90th get together!]
  • 11/01/14: The Great 2014 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Spooky Trinidad Chicken Curry Party!

2015

  • 01/10/15: The Great 2015 Five Year Memorial Hip Replacement Party!
  • 03/14/15: The Great 2015 St Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Dublin Coddle Fancy!
  • 04/11/15: The Great 2015 Spring Into Spring Backgammon Tournament And Sun Sprayed Vegetable Dash!
  • 05/02/15: The Great 2015 Cinco De Mayo Backgammon Tournament And El Taco Grande Fiesta!
  • 06/20/15: The Great 2015 Eleven Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Gazpacho Wonder!
  • 09/19/15: The Great 2015 Talk Like A Pirate Backgammon Tournament And High Seas Dinner Slop!
  • 10/31/15: The Great 2015 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Mummy Dogs Party!

2016

  • 01/09/16: The Great 2015 Five Year Memorial Hip Replacement Party!
  • 02/06/16: The Great 2016 Pre Super Bowl Backgammon Tournament And Punters Legs Party! — [my 100th get together!]
  • 03/19/16: The Great 2016 St Patrick's Day Backgammon Tournament And Green Bangers Delight Party!
  • 05/07/16: The Great 2016 Cinco De Mayo Backgammon Tournament And Border Line Casserole Party!
  • 06/11/16: The Great 2016 Twelve Years At The Garrison Final Backgammon Tournament And Top Gun Stew!

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