Looking for ways to improve my own game, five years ago I started a Facebook group where we could discuss and play against ExtremeGammon. I started it as a continuous money game, like a giant chouette except XG was always in the box and I don’t keep individual scores.
We play unlimited (money) games which are the foundation of backgammon and equally applicable at many match scores as well. It’s set up so that we play one move a day and everyone has the opportunity to vote for their preferred move and discuss their preference. Here’s an example of a recent position where we had to decide the correct cube action.
Would you take this as Black?
In the position above, the team voted to double and they also thought it was a take for Black when it was actually a pass according to XG.
White has a strong broken inside 5 prime and Black doesn’t really have anything but his 5pt. Black is 43 pips behind and the main hope to win this is to build a stronger board and wait for a shot when White has to break the anchor. Black might make White’s bar point but, in all likelihood, he will be looking for a late hit to turn this around. White has a bit of time to wait for that double to jump out. It’s better for Black to let this one go.
See the discussion here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/535417609986046/posts/1670130513181411/
The results have been very interesting. Each year we have been playing between 40 and 50 games, and not only has the team easily beaten XG, we have also collectively played with a PR under 1.0.
How can this be, you may be asking? Well, the voting system takes out the individual mistakes and the majority usually choose the best move. We also gain a small PR advantage when it’s a pure race as I roll it out to save the tedium. I do the same when I consider the move obvious or trivial.
So, has it improved my game? Obviously I couldn’t take part in the voting so I restricted myself to interpreting the thinking of XG when analysing our incorrect choices and that has really increased my understanding of the game, although understanding why a move is right doesn’t mean you make the right choices in play.
In recent years, I’ve had to do less commentary as we have attracted some world class players, including Will Snellings and Neil Kazaross, who frequently give their expert analysis.
We now have over seven hundred members, from which we get around 150 or more views per day and between 20 and 30 votes per move. It’s interesting to watch the daily voting patterns.
Personally, I think this is a great learning tool and many players can benefit from taking part. You can play along in less than a minute a day but, to get the most out of it, you’ll need to put in some extra effort. The more interactive you are, the quicker you’ll improve. Don’t look to see how other people vote before making your choice. Be bold and nail your own decision to the mast. It doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong… no-one will judge you. Only after you have made your choice should you look at other people’s comments. You can even share your own reasons with the community. This may take a lot of courage to do but you’ll definitely be able to see where your understanding differs from others. You can also ask questions about the position, as we have some fantastic players who will be delighted to help and share their knowledge.
Please feel free to join us and share the experience. Playing takes just a minute a day. Expert players are also welcome. We all learn from helping each other.
Take a look at today’s position here:
Here are two other interesting positions that our group had to face. See how you do:
XG surprised us with 20/13. Giving up the golden anchor! The two halves of our army are becoming disconnected, especially after we break the midpoint. So XG says we should reinforce the midpoint now to keep the link intact. The team chose 13/7 6/5.
Here’s one the team did get right.
Why is 24/15 better than 22/13? The pip count is close and White is slightly ahead after this roll but there are other things to consider. Black has an advanced anchor so we should respond by trying to get one ourselves. Black has a stripped midpoint and would be making a big concession to hit from there. We have a stronger home board so we should be happy to get into a scrap. Another consideration is that Black’s 3’s will be duplicated. 22/13 is just a bit too passive and leaves our back men isolated on White’s acepoint.
To join the Humans vs XG please follow this link: