Rant Number 4
A Rant Concerning Backgammon

Starting thoughts...
Backgammon. I love the game, but I have no time to play, so at this point I just read about it. I used to be addicted to chess as a kid and even up through the late 70's when I was playing 2+ hours a day going over positions. But you know, who has time for 2 hour games and me with the poor short term memory had run up against the memorization of openings and responses and was playing with people who were regularly kicking my butt pretty soundly- very bad for the ego. Then I did a lot of years of poker, which I enjoy but to get 3-5 other people together is a bit much- particularly at the stakes I was at.

Introduction by fire...
I was introduced to Backgammon in the late 70's by a really competitive friend and we had some brutal confrontations over the backgammon board. I had a lot of fun.   Generally, we just played for a dime or quarter a point, so the loser would be down maybe a buck or two a game or something. But one night, Linda and I got quite smashed and started ribbing each other over who was better at backgammon- she clearly was, but that never stopped me from taking someone on.

So, as the night wore on so did the verbal abuse between us- quite friendly, actually- but we both knew we were fixing to butt heads over the board. She challenged me to a match at a dollar a point to which I readily agreed. Now I rarely if ever gamble after drinking, and when I do- never for stakes that could amount to anything more than $10 for the evening. At a dollar a point, that could get stiff.

But I was used to "the gamble" with my poker background, so I figured I couldn't get hurt too badly if I just became very aggressive in my play and backed out when I had the worst of it. Thing is, I never got the worst of it. I was up about $30 and Linda just couldn't take it and wanted the stakes to go to $5 a point. Fine. She kept losing. And the more she lost the madder she got. We continued to drink wine.

Then she wanted to go to $10 a point. At this point I was way ahead and so could safely gamble with her money so I agreed. We had quite the game, I'll tell you. Anyway, somewhere around midnight, Linda kicked the board off the table, threw the $600 she owed down, and rode off into the night. We laughed about it afterward, but just to keep things smooth we played again for $20 a point sober and she won it all back and then about $50 more so after that she was fine- having vindicated herself, I guess.

Who cares...
Anyway- looooooooooooooooog story, but that's how I got into backgammon: the worlds oldest game. 10-15 minutes is all it takes to play a game, you don't have to be totally focused, and there is little to memorize: it's all probability and tactics. But, I don't know anyone close by who plays and I don't really want to play online over the net as I always have something else that needs to be done online. So I live my backgammon life vicariously though the lives of others who write about it. A story similar to my sailing life

The most entertaining book on backgammon I have read is Playboy's Book of Backgammon by Lewis Deyong. Deyong combines an excellent tutorial on winning backgammon from a very winning player interwoven with marvelous stories of his play and experience playing the game all over the world. Where most books are very dry and academic, Deyong's style is sparkling and filled with the pure joy of the game and the striving for going for the throat for the money win.

But the absolute best book written on backgammon is Backgammon by Paul Magriel. It is considered the classic work on backgammon by one of its foremost players and theorist. Written in 1976, it painstakingly covers each area of the game in an easy to read and understand style. It just doesn't get any better than this! It is considered the "Bible" of backgammon- a must read for any serious player.

Some links...
If you search the web for "backgammon", you get quite a few sites. They range from large established clubs around the world, to shops selling equipment, to personal websites.

Yahoo! has an active series of clubs. I joined one of smaller ones, The Backgammon Players Club as it was one of the few who were not wrapped up in online tournaments or statistics. However, a great site dedicated to that sort of thing is GamesGrid. One of the largest and most informative sites is GammonVillage.

The leading site for backgammon world wide is the International Backgammon Clubs site out of the UK. If you are from the East Coast, the New England Backgammon Club is fairly extensive. So too is the Chicago Point Backgammon Online for the Midwest. Webby's Backgammon Site is also a pretty interesting place. There are more, but I don't want to get carried away here with this stuff. Have fun and explore if you are interested.

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