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Elo calculator relating to holding cube value

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Saturday, 11 April 2015, at 2:26 p.m.

In Response To: Elo calculator relating to holding cube value (Bob Koca)

In answer to Bob...why is it so much harder to go from 5-2 than from 10-7 PR?

I believe the reason it is so much harder to make the jump in skill level is because at that level you are dealing with far more complex issues.

As an analogy, it is far easier to learn to play tic tack toe well than backgammon. The brainpower needed to master tic tack toe and the amount of complexity of the options are not very high.

In backgammon, to go from a 10 to 7 PR, the things you need to learn to do that are not that complex. To go from 5 to 2 you have to master cube decisions that require much higher math skills and checker plays that are far more complicated and complex.

This adds to my point that in a given game, there will be more decisions that are difficult to both the 7 and 10 PR player than the number of decisions that could be deemed "difficult" for both the 2 and 5 PR players.

More to your point, I believe anyone with an IQ of over, say, 120 can become a 6 PR or better player with some good coaching and deliberate practice.

I believe to get under, say, 4 PR, the higher the IQ the more easily this rating can be accomplished, and IQ may even create somewhat of a ceiling.

Now, there are other brain functions that probably can't be measured in pure IQ measurements, and I don't pretend to be an expert on this subject, but I have read many books on this and studied this for years. Other factors that are difficult to quantify are a player's concentration abilities; memory retrieval; math skills (without paper); and of course gaming skills (like the ability to isolate the key element and apply the right concepts of play in complex situations), the ability to do computations quickly, and mental stamina--the ability to keep making complex decisions without tiring.

Many people are strong enough in those areas to become a 7 PR player but don't have enough strength in those areas to become a -5 PR player.

Why have I been playing and studying this game for over 50 years, read every book, studied from and with some of the best minds in the game, and I can't play anywhere near as well as MCG or Stick and a few others who became -4 PR players in a few short years? Some may say this is a cop-out or excuse, but I can assure you that it is not for lack of desire or effort. It is because of IQ and/or those other factors I mentioned, and perhaps a few other important factors that I don't even know about. (I gave up the Silva Mind Control method on the dice many years ago.) I have not "given up" but I believe if I did nothing but study this game all day long for the rest of my life I will never be as good as Mochy or Falafel.

One other factor: when Mochy and Stick and MCG started learning the game they had the benefit of excellent computer programs and also starting out quite young. By the time the excellent computer programs came along my mind was already deteriorating, I probably had learned many bad habits that are difficult to break, and now, at 70 years old, it is proven that the mind does not absorb new information as easily or retrieve it as well. But again, not to offer it as a cop out, because I know I am reasonably intelligent, I am constantly in awe of most top backgammon player's mental powers, not only in backgammon, but in other things as well. Does anyone question the IQ and mental abilities of Nack, Jake, Kit, Senk, Magriel, Robertie, Neil, MCG and many of the other greats of this game who have proven their skills and mental capabilities in so many other games and area? We don't know how smart Mochy and Falafel and some other great players are because they haven't ventured as much into other games and areas of life, but I suspect they are very, very smart and have great strength in those other areas I mentioned.

Bottom line is all this, I believe, supports my contention that the differences between the 2 and 5 PR player will come up less often in a single game than between the 7 and 10 PR player.

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