Colorful Books

Using Books to Improve Your Game 

Book Reviews & Recs
#SheGammons

Interested in upping your game? Doing the same thing you’ve been doing is likely to get the same result!

There are a number of new backgammon books that will bring you up to speed quickly.

 They can be obtained from the top suppliers of backgammon books:

 

Roadkill Books Backgammon Books (offers free shipping in the U.S.)

     Flint Backgammon Boutique Backgammon a la Carte

Gammon Press

Chris Bray Backgammon

 

Roadkill Books, Flint Backgammon Boutique Backgammon a la Carte, and Gammon Press sponsors of

Women in Backgammon. 

The backgammon world is full of books from some of the world's best. 

Backgammon to Win, Chris Bray, 2018

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Backgammon is the ultimate head-to-head board game – an action-packed race to the finish with an addictive mix of luck and skill. It’s easy to pick up the basics, but this is a game that continually surprises – there’s always something new to learn, and the Internet has opened up a whole new world of gaming opportunities.

In 'Backgammon to Win' Chris Bray reveals tips and tricks needed to help you play the game like a pro, whether you want to make serious money in online tournaments or just play for fun at a board with friends.

While backgammon can be lost or won on the throw of the dice, tactical moves and game plans can help you adapt your play to deal with whatever comes your way. With chapters on opening rolls, mid-game strategies and races and endings, his step-by-step suggestions, sample game illustrations and easy-to-follow text have everything you need to get to grips with tournaments and chouettes to computer and online play – all are covered, as are the secrets of making the doubling cube work in your favour.

Insightful and informative, Backgammon to Win is the ideal introduction to this dynamic and challenging game.

Note that the material in this book is very similar to that in “Backgammon for Dummies” but Chris prefers this book because it is written in his own style rather than the rather prescriptive Dummies Style.

PURCHASE

Chris Bray Backgammon

Backgammon - The Final Wind, Chris Bray, 2021

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This is the final book in the "Wind" series and covers articles from 2017 and 2018 plus some material written for the USBGF. The book was updated in March 2021 to amend two solutions, to correct some grammatical errors and to add twelve new USBGF articles.

The game of backgammon continues to evolve, and the last twenty-five years have seen a period of rapid development in the game. This is largely because of the advent of the backgammon neural-net computer programs, JellyFish, Snowie and, most recently, eXtreme Gammon. Consequently the modern expert player is light years ahead of his 1990s counterpart.

The material in this book covers not only the development of backgammon theory but also looks at the history of the game including some of its more famous and colourful players. Backgammon has never been short of interesting and colourful characters ranging from Emperor Nero to Lord Lucan.

The timeless characters such as the Dowager Duchess, Quentin Quickcube, Barry Bigplay and the Enigmatic Englishman that make up Chris’s menagerie continue to paint a vibrant picture of life in the high stakes chouette. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are on hand to lend instruction and Jeeves and Wooster provide some light-hearted moments.

Chris’s articles are targeted at a broad range of players and everyone from the casual player to the expert will improve their game by studying the diverse positions in this book.

PURCHASE

Chris Bray Backgammon

Opening Concepts, Michihito Kageyama and Roland Herrera, 2017

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First book in Odyssey Series; easy to read, easy to remember. You’ll enjoy his 12 proverbs at the beginner level, six at intermediate, and last three at advanced. Includes examples and quizzes to reinforce the key points.

(ISBN 978-1-9790064-0-8)

Endgame Technique, Michihito Kageyama and Roland Herrera, 2019

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Second book in Odyssey Series; the book gives advice on how to play the checkers to maximize your winning chances in several common types of endgame positions – bearing in and off safely when you’ve closed out one checker and how to bear in when your opponent is anchored on your 1, 2, or 3-point.

Review: John O’Hagan, Book Review: Opening Concepts and Endgame Techniques, PrimeTime Backgammon, Fall 2019.

(ISBN 978-1-7339075-0-7)

Back Checker Strategy, Michihito Kageyama and Roland Herrera, 2021

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Third book in Odyssey Series; Back Checker Strategy is easy to understand and provides very valuable information laid out in an easy to read and remember format. The book categorizes back checker formation into five stages; the stage you are in affects whether you play boldly or safely and how to handle your back checkers. Michy provides new wisdom regarding the use of the back checkers, whether to break an advanced anchor to hit and more. Proverbs help keep the learning concise and serve as great mnemonic aids. This is a great addition to everyone's collection.

(ISBN 978-1-7339075-0-7)

Holding Game Guru: Cube Mastery in Holding Games, Jacob “Stick” Rice, 2021

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This is a collection of 300 holding game cube positions of every type and flavor: high anchor holding game with extra checker back, holding game with a checker on the bar, holding game with points to clear in front of the anchor, double anchor holding games, holding game with shots at another checker, and much more. Holding games are one of the most common games to occur. The references will turn anyone with some experience into a true master of these positions. Stick sets forth several easy to remember rules of thumb that make recalling the details of the positions easier.  

(ISBN 978-87-973336-1-7, $60

How to Play the Opening in Backgammon Part 1 - A New Way of Thinking,
Bill Robertie

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How to Play the Opening in Backgammon/Part 1 – A New Way of Thinking looks at opening positions in terms of assets and liabilities with an emphasis on balance and giving you the tools to be able to spot the often-not-obvious best play quickly over the board.

 

In the Introduction, Bill Robertie writes, “The opening occurs in every game. By definition, you will be faced with more opening problems which will account for the highest proportion of your errors. The goal of this book is to present a new way of looking at opening positions and to drive home the very important point that in the opening everything matters.”

A careful study of How to Play the Opening in Backgammon/Part 1 – A New Way of Thinking will help you develop a sense of how stacks, stripped points, blots, the position of the back checkers, and the race all exert an effect on your play. Putting these pieces together combined with an understanding of how they influence a position will let you take a big step toward playing better backgammon.

Review by Mary Hickey of How to Play the Opening in Backgammon/Part 1 – A New Way of Thinking. 

How to Play the Opening in Backgammon Part 2 - Everything Matters,
Bill Robertie

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How to Play the Opening in Backgammon/Part 2 – Everything Matters continues the explanation of opening play, this time moving on to two new topics: plays involving the low points in the home board and plays where hitting one or two blots in the board are possibilities.

What causes many players to stall out in their backgammon development is the idea that backgammon is governed by a few simple rules. If you learn and follow these rules – like “Make the 5-point if you can” or “Never make the ace-point” – then you’re supposed to become a good player. But the reality isn’t that simple, and many other features of the position – stacks, stripped points, and the race (for instance) will have a powerful influence on whether plays are right and wrong.

A careful study of How to Play the Opening in Backgammon/Part 2 – Everything Matters will help you develop a sense of how these different positional features will help guide your play. Putting these pieces together combined will let you take a big step toward playing better backgammon.

The Theory of Backgammon: Mathematics, Logic, and Intuition, Dirk Schiemann, 2021

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The Theory of Backgammon is a comprehensive, meticulous and sharply insightful examination of the theoretical structure which underlies all aspects of the game. Moving from a careful development of necessary concepts to a wide-ranging, novel approach to advanced topics and problems, the book presents the intricate complexities of backgammon in surprising clarity. It offers groundbreaking insight into what gives rise to optimal checker play and cube decisions and how to find them over the board.

PURCHASE

Roadkill Books 

Backgammon Flint

The Zizka Method: Dominating Backgammon Through Storytelling, Zdenek Zizka, 2021

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ZZ is a young prodigy of the backgammon world, the highest rated player on Backgammon Galaxy and a Grandmaster. His method starts with asking how the game will unfold if you play one move vs. another.

(ISBN 978-87-973336-0-0)

Additional reccomendations 

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John O’Hagan’s list of recommended books by player skill level

John O’Hagan is quite simply one of the best backgammon players in the world and one of the most well-liked and respected men in the community.  He started playing seriously in the late 1980s and his extraordinary mathematical aptitude together with his steady logical thinking, returned rewards almost immediately.  His first major win was the Chicago Open in 1996.  Since that time he has won numerous ABT titles and has been in the Top Twenty nine times, earned a BMAB Grandmaster 2 level of proficiency and has been elected to the Giants of Backgammon every single year since 2005.  He is currently ranked #9 Giant in the world.  In 2005 he lost the World Championship title at DMP.  He is a sought-after backgammon coach, a frequent contributor to Primetime Backgammon Magazine.  O’Hagan’s law (for the doubling cube) is followed by intermediate and elite players worldwide.

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Chris Bray's Top 10 recommended books

Chris Bray was the backgammon correspondent of The Independent newspaper in the United Kingdom, a position he held for twenty-three years until the paper went digital in 2016. In December 2019 he became the backgammon columnist for The Times of London and the new column has received very good reviews.

He has been playing backgammon for over forty years after moving to the game from chess and bridge in the late 1970s, at the time of the last great backgammon boom. The 1970s was a heady time for the backgammon community. Chris quickly became fascinated with the game and its history. As well as developing his own game to the point where he can compete with the best players in the world on an equal footing.

Be part of the movement to parity for women in backgammon.