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Backgammon is not chess!

Posted By: Joe Russell
Date: Friday, 8 March 2013, at 5:12 a.m.

While I am very much in favor of the trend of backgammon transforming from a gambling game to more of an intellectual pursuit, I think we need to keep in mind that backgammon is more closely related to gin or poker, games that involve a high degree of luck, than it is to chess, a game of pure skill.

Backgammon is attractive to many people as a social game. One of the beauties of the game is that two people of unequal skill can compete and the inferior player can win a significant amount of the time. It makes it easy to find an opponent and it makes the game more exciting. I think most people attend backgammon tournaments for social, intellectual, and competitive reasons. Not many expect them to be profitable. The luck element does turn some people away as many people would prefer to play a game of pure skill or can not tolerate losing to inferior players.

I think part of the problem is the reward for being one of the world's best players in backgammon is not significant enough to encourage many people to strive for that. There is not much money in backgammon and the luck element prevents many from achieving the recognition they desire/deserve.

While PR events are great as side events at tourneys, they do not address the real problem that exists. The real problem is the level of play has become so strong that luck predominates skill by a very wide margin in most matches. Something like 93%, or more, of matches at the Open level are won, on average, by the player that is luckier.

I do not think trying to take most of the luck out of backgammon is the answer, but making skill a little more significant would make the game more rewarding for those that excel and give encouragement to those with the potential to do so.

There are many ways to do this and I would love to hear the suggestions of others, but the goal should be to lessen the luck effect slightly, not eliminate it.

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