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free backgammon book

Posted By: Timothy Chow
Date: Saturday, 9 March 2013, at 2:31 a.m.

In Response To: free backgammon book (BaronGossettEulerPhD)

Last summer, BaronGossettEulerPhD posted a free backgammon book online. I downloaded it, started studying it, and then for various reasons put it aside. Now I'm back at it. I thought I'd post a few comments here to encourage other people to read it.

The first thing I'd say is that this book proves that you don't have to be a world-class player to produce a good and useful book on backgammon. What you do need is the willingness to put in the effort to compile a good set of positions and work at understanding them. That is what BaronGossettEulerPhD has done. The subtitle of the book is "Everyday errors in checker play." Despite this title, there are some difficult positions in the book. What distinguishes it from most other books is that there are quite a few easy positions in the book as well. Thus the QF is reduced and you have to be more honest with your assessment of each position. There are definitely a sizable number of positions that are "nexts" for the expert player but that I see intermediates botching all the time, so the book does deliver on that score.

The author makes a serious effort to provide accurate commentary. In a few cases I've found that the commentary is off the mark, but the hit rate is no worse than in, say, Robertie's 501 Essential Backgammon Problems, and may even be slightly better. The analysis is certainly more thorough than in 501 Problems and is about on par with Boards, Blots, and Double Shots by Norm Wiggins. The main systematic shortcoming is that when writing the book, the author was primarily concerned with figuring out what was wrong with his own play, and so he doesn't give enough attention to plays other than the top play and his own play. Overall, though, I think this book is definitely worth taking the time to read. Recommended.

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