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Nordic Open Seminar


For the Nordic Open 2004 I was asked to do the seminar and comment the finals live. To do such is a great honor. I am thankful to the Danish Backgammon Federation for being given such an honor. A lot of copies with notes were made. But they weren’t enough. So we made some more. Those were still not enough.

The subject was how to systemize (your) errors into groups. A lot of people have tried, but few have succeeded. Below are the requested pages from the seminar.

Notes for groupings

1 Aces 2 Deuces, 3 Threes, 4 Fours, 5 Fives, 6 Sixes
A lot of tactical decisions.
A lot of positions, that could be systemized into other chapters.Anchor Choice:
Importance of race.
Optimistic race/pessimistic timing => more advanced anchor.
Pessimistic race/optimistic timing => Deeper anchor
Preventing opponent in filling his prime.
Match score considerations.

Anchoring Up
Strength of board
Opponents flexibility

Back games
Very different concepts are right, compared to normal game theory.
Timing is very important
Put the checkers where they belong (slot your prime backwards & forwards - even though it sometimes means you are leaving a double blot)
Play dynamic
Respect the opponent having taken a lot of checkers off.
Low volatility => late doubles
Prevent crunching
Checkers on the midpoint represents a lot of timing (Cube action).
Smooth bear in/clear in is important
Keep the anchors

Bear off, Bear in & Clear in
Minimize the opponents lucky numbers.
Consider gammon & backgammon possibilities.
Clear from the rear.

Where the theme is to hit aggressive for a close out to gammon the opponent.
High volatility => aggressive cubes
How likely is it the blitz will succeed and how valuable will the gain be.
Consider opponents counter play options.

Blitz & Priming
Where the checker play choice is to choose between priming and blitzing (hitting).
Where the cube action is a blitz against priming.
Try to estimate how strong the blitz is compared with the prime (Board strength, prime length compared with number of checkers back).

Coming around & Down
Avoid getting “stuck”
Try to gain flexibility & outfield control.
Ammunition less important.

Coming up
Improving the position positional.
Avoid following a backward game plan.
Advanced holding games more attractive than backwards holding games.

Positions where you hit the “last” checker and your plan is to prevent the hit checker to escape.
Spread the checkers out for maximum hitting possibilities.
Button up on advanced key points or to take away some of the opponents jokers.
Position value often misunderstood by the computer, but plays checkers well.
Be careful when hitting loose with out direct builders.

Making a play that challenges the optimum contact.
Opponent should be leaving shot immediately.
Own board should be strong.
Opponents board should be weak.

Crunched positions
Big difference between a crunched position with dead checkers and with out dead checkers.
Often calls for very aggressive play with both cube action and checker play.
Computers often over estimate the race.

Doubles (usually early 33)
Use general opening concepts
Avoid stripping or breaking points.
An anchor or a point is usually stronger than a builder and a split.
Un stack heavy points.
Point shifting is ok.
Doubles are often positional decisions, where you choose a (new) game plan.

One of the most common themes for the non-expert.
When you are forced to make a weak play, minimize your opponents good numbers with “dublication”.

Placing the checkers so many numbers will play well next roll. Often giving a few shot numbers.
When it can improve the position a lot. Often related to having a soon cube.
Often down a lot in the race and in the need of building a prime.

Early Stage (Opening)
Taking advantage of stripped points.
Slotting (5pt) is ok when taking advantage of dublication (f. ex. hitting vs. making 5 point).
Get your back checkers moving so they will not get “stuck”.
Be careful about bringing builders down when opponents back checkers are split.

Fiddling (Coming around)
Bringing the checkers home.
When an improvement is not that great (fx. a hit that is too big).

Go out
Bringing the rear checkers closer to home.
Very similar to fiddling.
In the need of outfield contact.

Go to bar
Then the opponent got stripped points, meaning hitting will cause breaking points.
When having a healthy race lead.
When the threat is to be primed.
When forced to leave a shot anyway.

Very complex chapter with many subchapters.
Hit when you are forced to leave a (fly)shot anyway.
Hit to gain tempo (prevent opponent from making points or otherwise improving).
Hit to re circulate.
Hit when you put a checker on a location where it belongs (f. ex. 5-point).
Hit to make a close out to win a gammon.
Hit to prevent prime leaping.
Hit when you are down in the race.
Hit when you are under pressure in an important match (many people get scared of hitting under pressure).

Holding games
Systemize checker play into minor topics.
Systemize the cube by anchor f. ex. 20ach.
Computers tend to favorize the defending side except for Snowie 4 that evaluates very accurate in most positions.

Keep anchor
Trailing in the race.
Lots of timing.
Preventing opponent from jokering on the left checker.

Leave anchor
Leading the race.
When the opponents board is no threat (compared with your board).
Timing is running out.
Forced to leave (soon) anyway.

Match & Jacoby
Positions where the correct play is effected by either the match score or effected the place of the doubling cube (often Jacoby rule).
Trailing in the match calls for aggression.
Leading in the match calls for conservatism.
In DMP the prime becomes more important.
Jacoby calls for reaching a position where you can get a strong double in rather than a sure cash.

Sometimes hard to determine the value of the midpoint, but value the midpoint got.
Main communication post in the outfield.
Having the opponents bar point decreases the value of the midpoint.
Building your own inner board should be seen as making point shifts.
Produces a lot of contact, try to estimate who the contact favors.

No hit
Sometimes you are risking more than you are gaining by hitting (strong board/prime).
Good alternatives can be f. ex. anchoring up, buttoning up, coming up to leap & fiddling.

Pay now or later
Is the opponents position improving or deteriorating.
When having timing, usually choose to pay later.
When opponent got the timing, look for the most convenient way to pay now and value it with paying later.
Leading the race might be an early pay now and leave the anchor decision.

Pick up
When getting hit is dangerous.
When it is not likely to make the “slotted” point.

Probably the strongest way to improve the position in the middle game.
Button up by making points with long time equity.
Avoid a loose position.
Inner pointing is strong when the opponent is on the bar.
Gaining ekstra gammons.

Number of checkers back.
Being at the edge or not.
Big cubevig potential => Deep takes.
Slotting becomes a lot stronger.
Timing more important that race.

When leading the race.
When in danger of being primed.
Familated to go out.
When being out timed.
Saving gammons.

Safe or flex
Safe (producing lower volatility) is often correct on the verge of a cube.
Flex (producing higher volatility) is often correct when in the need of positional improvement.
Leading the race calls for safe play.
Trailing the race calls for flexible play.

Saving gammon
Make cross overs.
Spread the checkers out in own inner out field.
The closer to home, the more important the cross over is.
Don´t waste pips – put the checkers on the 6 point.
On the last 2 rolls, try to get 55 and 44 to play as gammon savers (not always correct to make a cross over).

Shifting points:
Making an attempt to keep the opponent from improving.
Blitzing for the gammon.
To get a volatile cube if the opponent fans.

Slotting is producing volatility.
Often correct when it can improve the position a lot, like in a priming battle or in a backgame.
Can be correct when taking advantage of dublication.
Underestimated by the computers (except for snowie 4).
Strong when the alternative is a lot of fly shots.
When the opponent got a stacked position.
Slotting aggressively often makes your opponent either aggressive or passive.
Slotting wins many games – looses many gammons – often not enough to justify under normal circumstances.

Making a quiet play, that buttons up the position the same way as a pointing play.
Giving the opponent a lot less numbers that damage your position.

When bringing home the checkers against a holding game.
When safety is of high priority or the alternative leaves too costly blots.
Unstack points with 5 (4 in backgame/priming) or more checkers.
Overestimated by computers.

Stay back
Underestimated by computers.
More valuable at a match score where gammons are irrelevant.
When your board is strong and your opponents positions is very unflexible.

Steamed & fast play
Have a neutral attitude to the game.
Consider all alternatives.
Visualize how the 21 different dice combinations play.
Expect your opponent to play world class against you.
Play as you would against the world champion.
Play for stakes that makes you serious & thought full.
Look at the game and don’t get distracted.

The G-Point (golden 5 point)
No strong prime is strong with out the G-Point.
Can be correct to break/shift the bar to make the G-Point.
Often better than hitting in the out field.

Killing high numbers to prevent crunching/anchor leaving.
Under estimated by the computers.

Too good
When it is correct to play for gammon.
Look for a position type, where you either cash too much or where you go to far for winning a gammon. Adjust the gained informations to your style.
Can be correct to play marginally wrong too good, when “weavering” is an estimated consideration.

Trap play
Forcing the opponent to leave an anchor, that could otherwise could produce shots.
Very badly understood by computers – Well understood by world class players.

Under the gun
Be careful about stepping up to a point where the opponent got 3 or more builders.

Is never correct for theory.
When making a volunteer mistake to gain from the opponents bigger mistakes.
Should only be used against weaker players.


How to use snowie & microsoft word

Steps 1-12 are made using Snowie.
Steps 13-19 are made using Microsoft word.
  1. Open your chosen match/moneygame session  in Snowie.
  2. Let snowie find your position using next error. (To adjust your personal snowie settings – Go to options/General/Threshold.)
  3. (Go to “note” and write a few self-teaching words.)
  4. Go to File/Export/Customisable HTML, rtf, text
  5. (Choose whether it is a cube action problem or a checker play problem)
  6. Never use predefined settings
  7. Export file format choose “RTF”
  8. (Export range choose single position)
  9. General – include notes
  10. Press the arrow to get “down” to further options. Choose your personal favorite settings.
  11. (Once you have chosen your settings, snowie will remember your settings as standard settings for next position and steps 3-4+6-10 will be automatic.) Press “ok” to end your chosen settings and name your files 00 001, 00 002, 00 003 etc. (The zeros are important preventing distraction, since a file name like 12 will be shown before a file with the name 2.) Save the files in a “working” folder that includes your titles.
  12. To make a .swg copy (Snowie position copy). Press “ctrl” + ”d”. Name the .swg file the same number name as your .rtf format.
  13. Open your first position (using Microsoft word) and press “ctrl” + “end”.
  14. Go to Insert/Pagebreak and press “enter”.
  15. Organize 100 files in one big Microsoft word file. Name the files “00 001 - 00 100”; “00 101 - 00 200”; etc.
  16. Open windows explorer pressing “windows” + ”E”. Browse and create the folders you want to work with (click on the 2nd mouse button). You need 1 working folder, where all titles are subfolders inside.
  17. Open the Microsoft Word file with the 100 positions you want to “systemize”. Look at position 00 001 and decide which title it belongs to. Go to your explorer, that is being kept in the background. Drag and drop your files into the folder that titles. Go back to your Microsoft word file including your 100 chosen positions. Resume with this step until all 100 positions are systemized.
  18. Go into each title folder and put all positions together to “title files”. Meaning you will have each chapter gathered in a separate Microsoft Word file.
  19. Print your “title files” and you will have your own errors systemized like was it a world class book!


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