ARTICLE #26 [First published in August 1989 Chicagoland Backgammon Newsletter]


Backgammon is a vast ocean of challenge and experience. You are about to embark on a fragile craft into the great unknown. There are currents and eddies in a backgammon game that can send your vessel off course. Treacherous reefs and stormy gales await to claim the unwary. Your survival depends on learning to navigate within that turbulent swirl. Timing is a skill you must acquire to stay afloat.

Timing is the positional speed of a backgammon game. It determines which positions are playable and which ones are not. The “swing position” is the main concern for choosing one game over another. At that critical point, a dice roll or a twist of the cube can decide the winner.

To be able to predict the evolution of a position, you must create a mental model. By extending this position into the future with average rolls, you will come to appreciate the possibilities. The question then becomes, “Is this jeopardy worth taking, or is another course of action more prudent?”

The ability to form this type of visualization is essential for backgammon studies. Testing theory through models and probable forces establishes the cause-and-effect relationship. Your only drawback in dealing with this mentality is the dogma you tend to adopt. You become an absolutist with respect to uncertainty, leaving no room for doubt. You learn to rationalize all effects with whatever cause that is convenient. Sometimes the truth is served, but more often it is yourself.

Fortune Cookie
Fairness is often sacrificed on the altar of purpose.

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