Robertie’s 501 Essential Backgammon Problems

Robertie’s excellent book 501 Essential Backgammon Problems was first published in 2000. The book does not give any indication that the analyses were checked using computer programs, although I recently learned that Robertie did in fact consult bots when preparing the book. Bot technology has evolved since 2000, however, and the current generation of bots (as of 2009) does not always agree with Robertie.

The rollouts below (performed by GNU Backgammon) are the ones that in my opinion are the most interesting. This list includes all positions where GNU Backgammon significantly disagrees with Robertie; these are highlighted using BOLDFACE ITALIC. The other positions have been included for a variety of reasons. For example, in some cases, GNU disagrees with Robertie, but (in my opinion) only slightly; in other cases, Robertie and GNU agree, but GNU thinks there is another move that is almost as good as Robertie’s recommendation; in still other cases, GNU thinks that the doubling cube is not in the most logical position.

Most of the rollouts here are my rollouts, but some of them were done by Jacob “Stick” Rice. Stick (along with some collaborators) ran all the positions in the book through GNU Backgammon, but I did not obtain a copy of Stick’s rollouts until I had rolled out most of the positions myself. The results here represent the best of both worlds (though if Stick’s rollout and mine are essentially equivalent, I have defaulted to my own). I thank Stick for generously allowing me to post his rollouts here.

My choice of which rollouts to include and which ones to HIGHLIGHT is somewhat subjective is not based purely on numerical criteria. For example, if GNU’s top two plays are close, and Robertie considers them both but settles on GNU’s second choice, then I regard that as much less of a disagreement than if Robertie does not even consider GNU’s top choice.

If there is a particular position whose rollout you would like me to add to the list, please contact me. If you are wondering whether I am planning to create webpages similar to this one for other backgammon books, the answer is that I may, but I have not yet made up my mind. Jeremy Bagai has already gone through many pre-bot-era books and analyzed the most interesting positions in his wonderful book Classic Backgammon Revisited, so apart from 501 Essential Backgammon Problems there is not a glaringly obvious candidate book for this kind of treatment.

NOTE: I have included rollout information only and have not included diagrams of the positions. This is intentional. I do not want to violate copyright, and I do not want this website to act as a partial substitute for Robertie’s book. It is intended solely as a study tool for those who have already purchased the book.

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