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The Most Fun Way to Play and Learn

The Most Fun Way to Play and Learn

By Phil Simborg



A few years ago, with some friends, I developed a way to play backgammon that is, to my knowledge, the most challenging, fun, and best learning experience.  It can be played with two people, or you can play doubles as well.


Basically, we play each other on the computer, usually on ExtremeGammon, and we have the right to challenge every play and cube decision our opponent makes. 


Here are the details as to how it works.


Decide in advance how much you want to play per point, but we generally play a 5 or 7 point match for 5 points, and every challenge is a point.  Let’s say my opponent rolls a 4-5 and makes his play.  Instead of rolling or doubling, I can “challenge” his play.  I must declare what play I think is better, and then we go to look at the move in EG and see which play was better.  One of the nice things about EG is that it evaluates moves INSTANTLY and you don’t have to wait for a rollout. 


If the difference between the plays is .020 or less, we call it a tie.  And we make the same bet on every cube (or no-cube) decision.


If you play with four people I suggest you play “non-consulting” on the plays, and have each player take a turn on each roll.  If you have consulting, it will simply take too long to make a move.  We also play non-consulting on the challenge.  Only the player who has the next turn can challenge the previous play or cube decision.


Talk about a game of skill!  You can win or lose money on every single play, and I guarantee you it will sharpen your game.  Also, when you do make a mistake, I also guarantee you that you are much more likely to remember that error. 


Many people ask me about these three most popular backgammon programs:  Snowie, GNUBG, and Jellyfish, and now, ExtremeGammon.  I used to say that all programs are about the same, but now I tell everyone to get EG.  Yes, I did help develop the program, and yes, I am involved with the developers and want to see it be a great success.  But that does not change the fact that it is easier to use, more accurate, and much faster than any other program.  And it keeps getting better as the designers make improvements constantly, whereas the other programs are no longer being updated.   You can buy EG for $50 at www.extremegammon.com, and after you buy it, email me and I’ll give you a quick, free tour and some tips on using it.


For those of you not familiar with the backgammon programs, not only does EG tell you which play is best, it tells you how much better it is than the next best play or the play you made.  It tells you how many wins, gammons and backgammons each side is likely to win after each play or cube decision.  And if the plays are close, it gives you the ability to play the game out (rollout) hundreds or even thousands of times to see what would happen statistically.  Most people agree that even the best players in the world are not favored against EG.


In addition to playing against a friend, you can also play against yourself and you can import matches from gaming sites and see how you played and examine your mistakes.


I give backgammon lessons about 20 hours a week, and EVERY ONE OF MY STUDENTS has ExtremeGammon, and they love it. 


Throw away your Snowie and GNUBG and Jellyfish….this is by far the best program to date.