Ken Larsen's web site - How to excel at backgammon


Thanks to a Windows based software tool called eXtremeGammon, there is a very simple and fun way to become a highly skilled backgammon player:


  1. Buy a copy of eXtremeGammon (aka "XG") for $ 65.00.  See "eXtremeGammon" on this web page.

  2. Enroll in a free online league that will copy your completed matches to your computer.  My preferred site is World League.  I play there under the name of Utsira.  They have tournaments that begin almost every hour.  To join World League, go to their website and click on "Free Sign Up".  Then, follow the instructions.  You'll be entering tournaments via the World League website, but playing them on the Safe Harbor website via an ap that you download to your computer.

  3. Play regularly in the online league and use XG to analyze your matches. Examine every one of your moves and try to understand why XG finds fault with your errors and blunders.  If you need help, email me a screen shot of any errors/blunders you don't understand.

  4. Keep a log of your PR ("Performance Rating") over your last 100 matches.  I call this "PR(100)".  XG keeps this information on its Players Profile Results page.  PR is a numerical rating of your skill.  0.00 would be perfection.  As of January 10, 2019 my PR(100) was 7.09 which is "expert".  Anything under 5.00 is world class.  I'm striving to reach that level.  Note:  Don't cherry pick the matches you include in your PR(100).  You'd only be deceiving yourself.  Be honest; otherwise, your PR(100) is not honest.

Here's a screen shot of XG's report on my progress as January 10, 2019:



"Perf" is "Performance Rating" (PR).  My PR(100) is shown to be 7.09.


More advice:

  1. Don't ever worry about luck.  You can't control the luck factor.  Luck is for losers.  Focus on improving your skill.

  2. Luck plays a significant role ... particularly in short matches.  If you don't use a tool like eXtremeGammon to evaluate your play, it's impossible to determine whether you won a match because of luck or skill.  You can easily get deceived into believing that you're better ... worse ... than you really are.

  3. I advocate playing matches online versus live matches.  The advantage of playing online is that you can have matches automaticly copied to your computer for immediate analysis by XG.  If you play live, you have to manually record your matches and then import the transcription into XG.  That's extremely time consuming.  It's also error prone. 

  4. Don't get emotional during a match.  Be like a "sphinx" ... stoic.  I once threw a 1-1 in a match, and my opponent uttered "oh, geez".  His utterance alerted me to a move I completely missed.  I thanked him.

  5. You can play matches against eXtremeGammon, but I prefer playing in a league.  It's more fun.   Also, XG plays perfectly.  Humans do not.  Humans get into positions that you rarely see if you just played XG.  XG doesn't make mistakes.

  6. You can read books and study positions that other people post on various forum sites, but the downside is that when you see such positions you may guess the correct answer because of the "quiz factor" ... you expect that there's a trick.  You don't have that in a real match.

  7. Another downside of books is that most are oriented towards "money play" whereas backgammon tournaments are match play.  Match play is much more complicated, because correct checker and cube strategy vary depending upon the match score.


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