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what really matters?

Posted By: phil simborg
Date: Monday, 3 February 2014, at 10:40 p.m.

In Response To: Iancho PR Ranking February 2014 (Victor Ashkenazi)

Stick is right: results don't matter if you are trying to find out who plays closest to XG. But if you are trying to find out who is most likely to win a backgammon match or tournament, then you need both results and PR.

If you look strictly at results, there simply is not enough data, too much short-term luck factor, and too much luck of the draw.

So combining the two is somehow needed. ELO helps, but again, not enough matches of the same length against the same level of players in live matches under the same conditions of stress, clocks, etc. etc. (not to mention potential for cheating on line, so I won't even mention it), that is also not good.

Any formula that anyone comes up with to combine both PR and results will be flawed...no way to tell how much weight to put on either.

In some ways, the Giants list was, I believe, intended to give us a way to judge who is most likely to win. At least at the very top of the list, I don't think we see many players who are there just because they win a lot (but are known not to play technically well) or players we know play technically well but rarely win anything (Stick my be an exception on the past couple of lists because his PR greatly surpasses his wins in live tournaments.)

I don't think we'll ever have a clear answer. To me, the best measure is a duplicate backgammon test...an extensive one. But that is still just a test of knowledge and not necessarily skill in beating someone over the board.

The best measure of skill over the board would require a bunch of head-to-head matches and record the results--that would be great if, for example, we had the top 16 players in the world play round-robin for 6 months. I think the W/L record at the end of the time would be a strong indicator of who is best.

Until we have this event, we will just have to use the Giant's list and look at PR's and tourament results and use our best guess as to who is best.

By the way, the people on this forum seem to be really hung up on how good the top players are and how people are ranked and their PR's. 99% of the world backgammon community might like to know who is the best player in the world, just out of curiosity, but could care less.

I would rather see the leaders of the backgammon world, and the Federations around the world, spending more time and effort on growing the game and attracting sponsors and getting more young people into the game than worrying about compiling statistics and rankings and ratings. I'd like them to adopt a universal set of good rules and guidelines for tournament play. I'd like to see a world organization to coordinate schedules. I'd like to see all players in the U.S. required to be members of and support the Federation. Oh yes, and I would like to see global peace and prosperity for all.

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