Mike Corbett's book, Backgammon Problems (2007) is a fun one

So I am about two thirds through this book, and it has been the most fun I have had reading any book on Backgammon. Throughout the book, Corbett dissects questionable Snowie 3-ply decisions (book published in 2007) using rollouts (of the same “flawed” Snowie; acknowledged as such and embraced by Corbett) along with other various tools of persuasion. I find the analysis instructive but his words… they are unique and make the book special.

Here is a snippet from the chapter titled Fyzzyx (pg. 35):

The position:

XGID=---ACbCbC-C--B-----bbbcb--:0:0:1:11:0:0:0:0:10

…, and while White’s position appears stable, it is bound inexorably for structural reshuffling.

A set of doubles may relieve the pressure, or the decomposition of White’s home board in an impotent glob may postpone the dilemma, but the most likely event is for White to expel a particle from its defensive structure, creating a vulnerable but not precipitous weakness.

Equilibrium (for White) may be regained in two ways

(Snowie likes 13/11(2) and Corbett (rightfully) disagrees)

The entire book is written as such and makes reading quite the experience. From a learning perspective, I feel there are teachings in the various rollouts and methods/approaches that Corbett uses in a time where the bots weren’t what they are today. I especially look forward, however, to going back through again when finished and compare each breakdown with a shiny new rollout from XG :smiley:

If you can find a copy and haven’t read this yet, I recommend the adventure.

1 Like

That’s some quality writing, something missing from many books published since then. I’d put Robertie and Storer into that same echelon of colorful elucidation.

And Corbett shows why the natural 13/11(2) is wrong. White is out of flexibility so the right idea is to maintain maximum pressure.

1 Like

Another quote from this book that I keep coming back to in my mind is from the introduction where Corbett is explaining his interest in the back checkers and in particular the last checker to break contact.

It may seem like an oversimplification to admit that I have spent many hours reflecting on the strategic nature of a single checker, as a chess player might mull over the role of a pawn for instance, buy my obsession has been with the last checker to break contact.

If this seems narrowly arbitrary, consider the distance and obstacles the checkers on the twenty-four point will confront compared to the bottom checker on the six point, which by comparison, almost never moves more than six pips …

After reading this, when setting up a new game I regularly look at that bottom checker on the 6-point and think about how little it will probably move. :cry:

1 Like

That poor little guy. I suppose when you’re setting up the checkers you should ask which one is feeling most introverted and put him at the bottom of the 6 point. And whoever is most intrepid can be on the 24 point.