Starting Out in Backgammon by Paul Lamford (2001).pdf

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First published in 2001 by Gloucester Publishers plc, (formerly Everyman Publishers
plc), Gloucester Mansions, 140a Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8HD
Copyright © 2001 Paul Lamford
Reprinted 2004
The right of Paul Lamford to be identified as the author of this work has been
asserted in accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic
tape, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher.
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN 1 85744 282 2
Distributed in North America by The Globe Pequot Press, P.O Box 480,
246 Goose Lane, Guilford, CT 06437-0480.
All other sales enquiries should be directed to Gloucester Publishers plc, Gloucester
Mansions, 140A Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8HD
tel: 020 7539 7600 fax: 020 7379 4060
Everyman is the registered trade mark of Random House Inc. and is used in this
work under license from Random House Inc.
The Mindsports series was designed and developed by First Rank Publishing
Typest by Games and Pastimes Conultancy, London
Cover design by Horatio Monteverde.
Production by Navigator Guides.
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The Basics
Early Strategy
Opening Moves and Replies
The Doubling Cube
The Race
The Bear-Off
Priming Games
The Blitz
Holding Games
Technical Themes
Computers and the Internet
Solutions to Exercises
Probability Tables
Backgammon is a race game, and is probably descended from
very old games such as the Egyptian
or the Indian
although game boards with a slight resemblance to
backgammon were found in Ur, and date back around five
thousand years. The game as we know it was mentioned in
The Compleat Gamester
of 1674, although there were
certainly differences:
'If your Tables be clear before your Adversaries men be
come in, that's a
which is three; but if you
thus go off with Doublets it is four.'
The game was analysed in 1743 in Hoyle's
A Short Treatise on
the Game of Back' Gammon.
It underwent its most recent
change in the 1920s with the addition of the doubling cube.
Since 1967 backgammon has had an annual World
Championship, which started in Las Vegas and the Bahamas,
but moved to its present home in Monte Carlo in 1976. There
are now about twenty major international tournaments each
year, and regular domestic events in the 100 or so countries in
which backgammon is played.
How popular is the game? One good way of assessing a game's
popularity is the Internet, and there are about 100,000 players
in total on the Internet servers. It is estimated that, in the
USA, about three million play regularly, while in the UK
around three quarters of a million do so. Most of these think of
backgammon as a game of luck. I hope that after reading this
book you will be convinced that it involves considerable skill.
The author acknowledges the assistance in the preparation of
this book of the computer programs Snowie and Jellyfish.
Particular thanks are due to Simon Gasquoine and Stefanie
Rohan for editing, proofreading, and checking positions. Byron
Jacobs also deserves thanks for suggesting this title and the
companion one on bridge. The author accepts responsibility for
any errors and would welcome comments or corrections sent to
him at
We have adopted the convention of referring to White, or 'the
player' as 'he' and Black, or 'the opponent' as 'she'.
Chapter One
The Basics
How the Game is Played
The Moves of the Checkers
Additional Information
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