Having defined the rules and the basic game types, it explains with excellent examples the principles of duplication and diversification, and the strength of the 5-point. It lays out rules for when to play boldly and when to play safe, when to split your back men and when not to split them. Many other basic and some not so basic backgammon concepts are explained. The author leads the reader on the journey from complete novice to competent player.
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At the time, Magriel was one of the top minds in the game — and a great writer. He had a unique ability to cut the important features of a position and write about it in terms that anyone could understand. Though he was World champion, Paul Magriel was even more famous for the textbook he wrote about the game two years earlier. His page book, titled simply Backgammon , was a breakthrough.
Nothing compared to it in terms of comprehensiveness and systematic style of presentation. Aimed primarily at beginning and intermediate players, Backgammon has continued to be praised by students of the game decades after it was published. He reminds us that good backgammon players rely on skill and strategic sophistication rather than luck.
Each column is a tiny lesson. A position and roll are presented and the reader is invited to find the correct checker play. Then, in his clear-minded way, Magriel takes apart the position and focuses on its fundamental aspects. He leads the reader through the steps an expert takes to get at the heart of the problem and deduce the correct answer.
But beware. Backgammon is not an easy game, and some of the problems chosen for the columns are hard ones. It shows how far backgammon knowledge has come. A lot of the best material on the game was not written until the s. And then there are the bots. Computer rollouts are now considered highly reliable for most types of positions.
And computers make it much easier for experts to try out variations of a position to see what effect small changes have on the overall equity. Backgammon analysts were flying without a net. And so mistakes slipped through. To keep readers from learning the wrong lessons, I have included computer rollouts with each column. Maybe it is you who are right and Magriel who is wrong! The Index Page lets you sort articles by date, title, cateory, tactic, or error.
Or if you prefer to simply skip the columns where Magriel errs, here is what to do: Go to the Index Page and click on the "Error" heading. Usually the logic he used was correct but some other overriding concern made his conclusion wrong. Figure out what the other overriding concern was.
This was an interesting time for backgammon. The game was growing quickly, major tournaments were being established, and players from other mind sports such as bridge and chess were coming on board. Some of the great talents of backgammon were just starting to make a name for themselves at this time. The columns are presented here in the same order as they appeared in the New York Times. The first column introduces the concept of the " tempo play.
Paul Magriel, Who Was Called the Best in Backgammon, Dies at 71
At the time, Magriel was one of the top minds in the game — and a great writer. He had a unique ability to cut the important features of a position and write about it in terms that anyone could understand. Though he was World champion, Paul Magriel was even more famous for the textbook he wrote about the game two years earlier. His page book, titled simply Backgammon , was a breakthrough. Nothing compared to it in terms of comprehensiveness and systematic style of presentation.
This reputation is well deserved. Explained in as many words as are needed to get the point across, but not any less. He is not trying to be entertaining, but rather informative without being dry. Writers of books that need to explain stuff to the reader should learn from Backgammon on how to do it, regardless of field. I also appreciated the breakdown of the chapters, which is very logical. It builds from simpler topics to more complex ones and from the opening to the endgame. It is a complete work that covers all aspects of backgammon, but there is an area that falls a bit short - the doubling cube.