the dorbel daily

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Books and Magazines

I am often asked to recommend books. I invariably suggest "Backgammon Boot Camp" by the late Walter Trice. Walter wrote a series of articles for the online magazine GammonVillage under the title Beginner's Boot Camp, taking everybody through the basic techniques in beautifully written, clear and accurate lessons, embracing quite advanced concepts along the way. Even if you feel that anything with beginner in the title is not for you, believe me this book is still essential reading. As far as I am aware, these articles are still on GammonVillage, so you may prefer to buy a Gold subscription and get the lot plus a huge archive of great articles by Jacobs, Zare, Hickey, Sax and others, plus annotated matches, news, terrific value.
Generally speaking, books written thirty or more years ago are only of historical interest, but from that time "Backgammon" by Paul Magriel is still brilliant, although probably worth getting the 2004 reissue. Anything from then by Danny Kleinman is great reading, entertaining and thought provoking, particularly "Vision Laughs At Counting". Bill Robertie is probably the most prolific author, although the quality of his work varies a lot. His "ModernBackgammon" is an excellent work for the advanced player and it includes a 25 point annotated match between Jerry Grandell and Nack Ballard, worth the cover price on its own.
"How to Play Tournament Backgammon" by Kit Woolsey is a fairly short book, but essential if you want to understand how to tailor your play to match scores.
Finally, in this anything but comprehensive list, a cheapy worth ten times its cover price is "100 Backgammon Puzzles" by Paul Lamford. The choice of positions is excellent and from each Paul draws a neat little conclusion that will help you when you meet something similar along the way.

Perhaps the worst ever book is "Backgammon For Blood" by Bruce Becker, a complete guide to playing like a bozo and losing all your money quickly. It was apparently Dubya's favourite and is hilariously entertaing, without meaning to be. Do not confuse this with the book of the same title by Chris Bray, which like all Chris's writing is entertaining and useful. His publisher chose the title without telling him!

All of these are available new and used from various outlets on the net, search around, have fun and build up a little collection. I recently found on ebay a copy of "Complete Backgammon" by Walter L. Richard, 1931, with dustjacket, signed by the author and dedicated to Harold Thorne, also a writer of that period. I hope that you will be as lucky.
Until the next time, enjoy the game!


higonefive said...

I miss "New ideas in backgammon" from Woolsey/Heinrich. That was a revolution in my backgammon. Working through this book during the night shift several month, i looked completely transformed. The way, they got their positions was very good, and i think, it is still today a bargain.
Btw. Nack played a 5.0, Jerry a 4.0 with very strong Cube Play in this loop sided match according to XG2. Now waiting for "What's your game plan?" Hickey/Storer, good reviewed from Wilcox Snellings in the last Chicagopoint.

dorbel said...

I didn't include "New Ideas", fascinating though it is, because I don't feel that the positions are easy to learn from. They mostly seemed to me at the time to be exceptions and in common with many others, found that the book messed up my game considerably as I tried to put the new ideas into practice. It would be interesting to reread it now though. Perhaps I would think differently.

M said...

I've read "New Ideas in Backgammon", but I didn't find it interesting enough.

"Bootcamp" is also my recommendation, and "Backgammon" by Magriel for start.

The book I like which is not mentioned is "501 problems" by Robertie - it is cheaper than many other books and it offers many positions to learn from.


By the way, month ago I had similar post on my blog:

Franck DEL RIO said...

I bought "New ideas in backgammon" and love it. My first one "501 problems" was really a good start too.

dorbel said...

Yes I loved "New Ideas " too, it's just that I wouldn't recommend it as a text book, more as a collection of fascinating and difficult positions. The problem is that the positions tend to be exceptions rather than the type from which you can draw a general and helpful rule. Fascinating stuff, just don't base your strategy on it!