Are you a Chimp, a Chump or a Champ?

Backgammon isn’t all about winning, but with
some backgammon tips you can go from chump to champ

john huston

Legendary film director John Huston playing for high stakes – trying to win back his trousers.

An old friend of mine, Jamie Lee (who has excelled at shooting and even holds world records) swears that a chimpanzee could, thanks to the luck of the dice in backgammon, win one game in three against a human. If the chimp was playing against Jamie, I have no doubt this would be the case.

Researching backgammon

Jamie Lee’s next opponent?

After a brutal loss in a backgammon tournament to possibly the world’s worst player, which left me feeling like a chump, I resolved to look into this game more closely. As I conducted my research into backgammon and read various backgammon tips, I began to believe that no other sport combines luck and skill so deliciously.

The extreme reversals of luck and the consequent adrenaline rushes in a match can be thrilling. And yes, I deduced that it was possible to get better and better at it, because although anyone can learn how to play the game in minutes and happily play for years as a beginner without really improving, by following some simple backgammon tips, strategies and rules a beginner can become a much stronger player and leave the novice behind. Maybe I’d never be good enough to earn a living at it (like some of the people I met along the way, who regularly win tournaments), but I believed I could learn how to beat most people.

I worked my way through a range of books and played with a few professionals. I played in the London Open and some other tournaments. Eventually I played, and had a bit of luck, in the World Championships in Monaco (though not that much luck… I didn’t win it, of course!).

Winning against other novices

Win or lose, what I’ve learnt is that by following some easy backgammon tips and guidelines, you can start to win more often against other inexperienced players — not when playing top professionals on a sustained basis (this would be too much to ask from a website for novices), but you might just have the edge against many other basic players. You won’t win all the time even against novices, as I painfully discovered at that fateful tournament, but the backgammon tips in Backgammon for Losers can help you to win more and to understand the game better.

The adrenaline of luck

Almost as good as winning a gammon…

Almost as good as winning a gammon…

Many players find that adrenaline rush from a backgammon match can be almost overwhelming; it’s similar to the kind of buzz that many people chase by motor racing, swimming with sharks or skydiving. Trust me, I’ve tried all of these things in the past and can vouch for the fact that backgammon produces exactly the same kind of chemical reactions and can easily give you a thrill-filled ride on the adrenaline roller-coaster.

It’s true that you or I would be more likely to beat a great player over 1 game than over 50, but anything’s possible. Unlike chess (which is all skill with no luck involved) or roulette (which is 100% luck), backgammon is a tantalizing mixture of skill and luck… in the short term, at least; in the long term, the good and bad luck cancels itself out and it all comes down to skill. No other game combines luck and skill in quite the same way as backgammon does.

It’s not all about winning, which will become harder the more you start to play experienced opposition. As Bob Stoller, the Alaska based player, teacher and analyst of the game, remarks, ‘backgammon is a game of enormous depth, and it takes literally years of regular play combined with serious study to win consistently against competent opposition, much less to achieving tournament-level mastery.  But as you improve, you will find that the better you play, the more you enjoy and appreciate the richness of backgammon.’ The backgammon tips here will help you to do that.

After all, who wants to be a chump when even a chimp could learn to be a champ?

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