While I agree with Gary Wong - even from less good books you can learn quite a bit - it's much more effective to study excellent
A selection of recommended backgammon books is introduced below. The selection is not complete (yet), but it is sufficient to work your way from an absolute beginner to a top backgammon player.
Unfortunately some of the books are out of stock and don't get reprinted any more. They can only be found on ebay or in antiquarian bookshops. You often require quite some patience before you finally find a copy. If you require any help please contact me via e-mail.
So enjoy reading and studying those books!
|Books for Beginners
|The Backgammon Handbook by Enno Heyken and Martin B.
Fischer is the only backgammon book I know of that was originally written in German and later
translated into English. For all other backgammon books it's the other way round.
Heyken and Fisher give a good and comprehensive introduction into the game, explain the basic rules, describe the different types of games into which a session can develop and say which strategies are most successful for those situations. Also the use of the doubling cube is introduced. Those principles are later explained by means of a complete match, played 1987 between world champion Bill Robertie and top class player Nack Ballard. This match from the 2nd Reno Masters Invitational can be downloaded from my match archive (uncommented).
Finally you can test if you fully understood the lessons and principles introduced by taking a little exam.
Fresh out of print, Chris Bray's Backgammon To Win is a perfect
reading for every beginner. After the rules of backgammon have been explained you'll be playing your first game of backgammon already. Later
the correct opening moves are discussed, the doubling cube is introduced, you'll study the different phases of the game and will get to know
how a Chouette works.
Last but not least the book will tell you how to utilize backgammon software to study the game and tells you everything you need to know to play backgammon on the Internet.
In the USA the same book is published under the title Backgammon For Blood, not to be confused with the book of the same title by Bruce Becker from 1974.
This book is available via Amazon
|Don't let the title of this book mislead you. Backgammon for Winners, written
by two-time world champion Bill Robertie, is a pure beginner's book. But as such it is highly recommendable. Robertie explains the rules and basic
backgammon expressions, introduces the correct opening moves and discusses the different types of games, into which a game can develop. For each
type a typical sample game is discussed.
There are three editions of this book, each new edition containing more pages with more contents. So make sure that you get the third edition from 2002 if you buy a copy. It's available from Carol Joy Cole, Amazon or The Gammon Press.
|General Backgammon Books
|Paul Magriel's Backgammon is unanimously
considered the bible of backgammon! First published 1976 (hardcover) and reprinted 1997 (unchanged; soft cover)
and 2004 (unchanged, with an additional short biography chapter on Paul Magriel; hardcover).
Despite it's age it is still the most complete and systematic introduction to the game of
backgammon! It is a must for every backgammon player of every experience level!
Since shortly the book is also available in a German translation. The German edition also added some improvements to the book, among others an attachment with computer rollouts of all positions and replacement of the old-fashionend position diagrams (Xs and Os representing black and white checkers) by up-to-date diagrams.
You can buy Magriel's book from Clock and Rose Press. Used copies can be found on ebay frequently.
Backgammon Boot Camp is the first modern book that could
be called successor of Magriel's classic "Backgammon". It covers all aspects of the game.
Trice does not attempt to teach the reader the ultimate theory of backgammon with difficult formulas, but offers ways to play good backgammon over the board with good rules of thumb and if formulas at all, easy ones. Trice's successes at several tournaments show that his methods are worth learning.
"Backgammon Boot Camp" was first published as a series of online-articles on Gammon Village and was only modified little for print. You can therefore alternatively read the articles on GammonVillage, but you have to become a member before.
If you prefer to buy the book (which I would recommend), you can get it from Carol Joy Cole.
|Advanced Backgammon Vol. I and
Vol. II, written by Bill Robertie, the backgammon
world champion of 1983 and 1987, was first published 1984 in
one volume. In 1991 it was re-published in two volumes with a lot
of modifications and some 200 additional positions.
"Advanced Backgammon" is, like Magriel's "Backgammon", considered as a real classic book of backgammon!
In it Robertie discusses more than 400 interesting positions covering all phases of the game and explains the correct moves and cube decisions. All positions are analysed for money game. Special aspects of match play are not covered.
Robertie wrote his book without having the possibility to check his recommendations with the help of modern backgammon software. So his books contain some errors from the today's view. I recommend to first mark those passages where Robertie erred before starting to read his books. Have a look here for Robertie's errors.
Can be ordered from Carol Joy Cole.
|The Backgammon Book
(also available in a German translation as Das Backgammon Buch) by Oswald
Jacoby und John Crawford. (The authors gave their names to the Crawford- and Jacoby-Rules, still in use today.)
When published in 1970 the book was the work of two backgammon pioneers. Today, it cannot improve your play any more. Too much has changed since then. Still it is a must for every backgammon addict. The authors were the first who tried to approach backgammon in an analytical way. Also the book contains subjects you won't find in any today's books, like the history of backgammon, etiquette, how to organize a tournament and a lot of nice anecdotes.
Offered on ebay for reasonable prices frequently.
Marty Storer's Backgammon Praxis (two volumes)
contains three annotated matches of "Backgammon Giant" Malcolm Davis: One match of the world championship 2000 against Ed O'Laughlin (Vol. 1),
the final of the Last Chance from Pittsburgh 1997 against Marty Storer (the author of this book) and a match from round two of
the world championship 2001 against Frank Talbot (Vol. 2). Additional commentary by Ed O'Laughlin, Frank
Talbot and Malcolm Davis is included. All commentary is checked by Snowie™-analysis and rollouts.
Available from Carol Joy Cole.
|Costa Rica 1994
by Antonio Ortega and Mario Madrigal contains an excellent match analysis of the final of the "Tournament of the Americas",
played between Mike Senkiewicz und Mike Svobodny. Also the earlier book
Costa Rica 1993 is highly recommended.
While the computer rollouts for "Costa Rica 1993" were performed with the less capable software Expert Backgammon™, for "Costa Rica 1994" the strong, neural network based software JellyFish™ was used. Where the authors still had doubts, they performed additional manual rollouts. Severe errors can therefore not be found in these books.
Unfortunately those books can't be found in the bookshops any more and are only rarely seen on Ebay.
|Jerry Grandell - His Most Important Matches
by Antonio Ortega and Danny Kleinman. A first class match analysis of six of Jerry Grandell's top matches played between 1997 and 1999.
Three of them analysed in very detail, for the other three matches only the major errors are commented.
Highly recommended reading!
|Kit Woolsey's Cube Reference Positions
is planned to be the first book within the "Backgammon Encyclopedia". Cube decisions for different typical game situations
are evaluated by computer rollouts and the results are discussed by Kit Woolsey. Then those positions are modified slightly
step by step until the cube decision changes.
Lets hope that Kit Woolsey will continue his series and we will soon be able to read the next boof of "The Backgammon Encyclopedia".
This book is available from Carol Joy Cole or The Gammon Press.
|Cubes and Gammons Near The End Of The Match by Antonio Ortega and Danny Kleinman discusses cube handling at match scores, where one of the players is only two points away from winning the match. The influences of gammons and backgammons on the cube decision are explained in every detail with a lot of examples.
|This and That
|Classic Backgammon Revisited by Jeremy
Paul Bagai is most likely to become a classic book on backgammon as well! Bagai has analysed the following
classic books on backgammon: Magriel - "Backgammon", Robertie - "Advanced Backgammon", Jacoby/Crawford - "The
Backgammon Book", Joe Dwek - "Backgammon for Profit" and Barclay Cooke - "Paradoxes and Probabilities". All major errors
in those books are listed and discussed in detail and with a good sense of humor.
If you have Bagai's book you can read the above classics without having to fear teaching yourself wrong stuff. Just mark all errors in those books before starting to read. So then you know where to be cautious.
As most books here, Bagai's work is is also available from Carol Joy Cole.
|Bill Robertie's 501 Essential Backgammon Problems
deals in 31 chapters with every phase ot the game. Every chapters starts with a short introduction, telling the
reader what to keep in mind in that phase and dicusses those principles with the help of 501 positions. Those contain both
absolute (easy) standard positions as well as quite tricky and difficult ones. The book is therefore both
suitable for beginners (who have to know the rules of the game) and intermediate / advanced players.
The problem discussions are relatively short, but as they were all verified by computer rollouts all of them are correct. Although the binding is quite simple and the position diagrams not really an eye-catcher (ovally compressed checkers), this book can be recommended.
This book is available for a reasonable price at Amazon.
Nack Ballard (currently the number 1 in backgammon) and Paul Weaver (another "Backgammon Giant") specialize in
21 volumes (!!!) on the opening in backgammon and discuss all of the first three moves of a game.
Backgammon Openings - Book A, published in 2007, discusses how to move
the roll 31. 31 as a first move is simple (8/5 6/5 of course), but already during the second move, the
31 is probably giving you some surprises. Ballard's/Weaver's book is the first one to specialize on the opening phase in backgammon.
For all moves very intense rollouts (up to 30,000 trials) were conducted using Snowie™ and GNU Backgammon. As it's impossible for two authors to conduct such an amount of rollouts, backgammon enthusiasts worldwide were invited to join the Rollout Project. Everyone owning a (efficient) computer can participate and will be mentioned in the book.
While the subject of this books may seem very specialized, you will have to play a 31 very often during the first three rolls. It's a good feeling to know how to play that moves corretly.
The book can be ordered via the autors' website.
|In the Game until the End: Winning in Ace-point Endgames
by top player Bob Wachtel is dedicated to the very special situation, where one players holds the opponents one-point in the late phase of
the game. How long to stay back? When to run to try to escape a Gammon or even Backgammon?
"Hardy, please don't get in many positions like this to get practice :)" is Bob Wachtel's inscription in my copy of that book. Indeed, when you get into situations like that, things are looking very bad for you. But still there is a chance that you can turn it into a winning position.
This is definetively not your first, second or third book on backgammon to read. But it may helpful from time to time to know how to handle such positions correctly.
Also available in a German translation.
Can be ordered from Carol Joy Cole.
|Since 1994 Chris Bray has written for the british newspaper "The Independent", since 1995 he has a weekly backgammon
column (every Saturday). What Colour is the Wind? is the collection of
all his articles from the years 1998 till 2001.
Therefore "What Colour is the Wind?" is different than most other backgammon books. It's not a systematic approach to the game of backgammon, but a very entertaining collection of very different subjects. There are not only analyses of positions, but also stories of the last World Championships in Monte Carlo, social aspects from some spectacular chouettes, reviews of backgammon books or a prayer for new backgammon software.
That's why this book is ideal to take to bed with you: You can stop reading after every page, as each article is just one page in volume.
A selection of Bray's articles from the the years 1994 to 1997 was published in "Backgammon - An Independent View", also highly recommended.
"What Colour is the Wind?" can be purchased from Carol Joy Cole or via www.lulu.com.
Chris Bray's Second Wind is the successor of
What Colour is the Wind?. It contains all of Bray's articles for his backgammon column in
"The Independent" from the years 2002 to 2006.
Despite - or because - the "Deja vu" higly recommended!
Can be ordered from Carol Joy Cole or via www.lulu.com.
|Last update: 26th March 2013