Ten Best Backgammon Lessons

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By Phil Simborg

In my 45 years of playing backgammon, I have been fortunate to have been given backgammon lessons and tips from some of the best players who ever lived. Here are the 10 best lessons, summarized for you.

backgammon lessons 1 – 2:

1. Oswald Jacoby. In 1967, just out of college, I was a top bridge player (life master). I found myself playing often, in Dallas, against one of the greatest bridge and backgammon players that ever lived, Oswald Jacoby. Oswald taught me a lot, but the lesson that stands out the most is this: BACKGAMMON IS ALWAYS A RACE. The winner is the first one to get all his checkers off first. Even if you win with the cube, it’s because your opponent decided you were too likely to get your checkers off first. And since it’s always a race, you should always be aware of the pip count.

2. Kit Woolsey. When internet backgammon first started, there was only one place to play, on FIBS. And the developer of FIBS, and the best player there, was Kit Woolsey. To this day, he is still one of the best teachers and players in the game. The first lessons I ever paid for were from Kit. I paid him $75 an hour for on-line lessons. I still use “Woolsey’s Law” of doubling to this day. Here’s how it works.

If you are thinking about doubling, first put yourself in your opponent’s position and ask yourself if you are sure whether it is a take or drop. If you are sure it is a take, then it might not be a double. If you are sure it is a drop, then you know you have a good double, unless you are “too good” to double (too many gammons). But what if you are not sure whether it is right to take or drop? What if it’s on the edge? Then FOR SURE, it is a double. For one thing, if you’re not sure, your opponent might not be sure either. If you double, you give him the chance to make a mistake and do the wrong thing. And even it is really is right on the edge, and it’s a tossup whether he should take or drop, you are still better off doubling than not doubling in that situation.

Go to Backgammon Lessons part 3-5
Backgammon lessons part 6-7
Backgammon lessons part 8-10