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Let's have a definitive test of skill

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Tuesday, 24 September 2013, at 3:27 a.m.

In Response To: Petko Averages 2.3 In Three Live Matches (Paul Weaver)

Some day I would truly like to see a real, true, definitive test of skill. In my opinion, the only way to do that is to administer a test. Give all players exactly the same match to play with exactly the same rolls throughout, and make it a tough one. After the player answers what his play is, then the same play is made for all regardless of what they answered, so they are all working from exactly the same cube and checker decisions. It will be true "duplicate backgammon."

There will be no luck factor as no one is getting easier decisions, and the match itself will be created in a manner to truly test the players' ability to handle difficult situations such as priming and back games and difficult middle-game decisions.

About the only thing I have seen like this was Paul Weaver's 10 problem checker play quiz given in Chicago. They were extremely difficult problems, but we were all looking at the same problems. There were many Giants in the room, and I don't believe any of them, including Mochy, got more than 6 right, and most very top players and Giants got 3 or 4 right.

Except MCG who got 9 right. Now, I have known that MCG is one of the best for a long time, but I have never seen anything so definitive in the presence of so many other great players in a side-by-side test.

All of these plays were in priming positions, and it just might be that MCG has a better understanding of priming checker plays that anyone else, so this is not a true test of overall skill, but the same thing done with back game plays, blitzing plays, middle game plays, and end game plays, together, could make a test that I believe would go a long way to tell us who is the best.

Yes, people will argue that doing well on a test, or against XG is not necessarily going to tell us who will do well in a match where you can change your game to suit your opponent. But when one of the best in the world is playing another who is one of the best in the world, I would argue that any changing of your game is likely to be cost you. I don't want to know which Giant is best at beating up an inferior opponent...I want to know who is best overall, and I believe a test, or Duplicate Gammon, is the answer.

That is the competition I would love to see the next time we get a bunch of giants in the room, and as for comparing to players around the world, this could be done simultaneously around the world, on line, with a proctor in each location, and then we would really know who is best (in my humble, rarely wrong opinion).

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