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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2010 8:32 pm
Years playing backgammon: 20+ Learned to play on playing bots and review with gnubg analysis FIBS rating 1750-1850
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Backgammon vs Chess

Players who come to backgammon from a background in chess or checkers type games, may become frustrated by the random element of luck on the outcome of their game. They feel helpless against the luck factor whereas in chess, they could strangle the weaker opponent with their cold calculating superior logic. It is common for beginners to blame the dice for their loss. But when confronted with a strong player like the AI based backgammon programs, they quickly discover that they are losing far more games than could be explained by random luck variance. So being a good chess player can give some advantage to the new backgammon player as they can use their discipline and analytical abilities to conquer some of the technical aspects of backgammon but it is in no way a prerequisite to playing at a high level in backgammon. Someone who is a complete dud at chess or checkers can develop into an expert backgammon player. Backgammon can be a fun alternative for someone bored with cold calculating analytical nature of games like chess and checkers.

So anyway, today I stumbled across a chess forum discussing whether chess is more difficult than backgammon.
Well that is comparing apples to oranges as the saying goes..
Even though both chess and backgammon are played on a board and moving pieces for each side, chess is a logic based game, while backgammon is a game that deals with probabilities. A chess player thoughts might go something like "if i do this, he will do that then I can do this and then this that and the other".. on and on up to as many levels as they can imagine. A backgammon player thinking is "if i do that, what is the probability that I am hurting my position vs if I do this" So you may ask, how do we know what is the correct play in backgammon, if we are rolling dice and luck is a factor. Well, backgammon computer programs have been developed that can estimate with a high degree of precision, what the best move or cube action is for any given position. This information is invaluable for anyone trying to improve at backgammon Making the best play for every roll in backgammon is extremely difficult. Even world class players can sometimes make a blunder. But the best play can always be discovered by entering the position into a free open source program like gnubg.

So to those who may question whether or not backgammon is a difficult game to excel at, go pull up a video of the finals of a major backgammon tournament and see how hard the players think before making a move.

An example of such a long and agonizing decision is on display at a post here on this forum viewtopic.php?f=31&t=297 depicting 2 world class players from Japan (Akiko and Michi) Look at how long Akiko thinks before making a a decisive cube decision that will put the whole match on the line.

So don't worry if you are not the best chess or checkers player in your "hood" Come learn to play backgammon and exercise the "probability" estimation skills which you may find more enjoyable and with a little practice and luck, you can give any expert a good run for their money :D
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