The Ten Best Backgammon Lessons I Ever Had
By Phil Simborg
In my 45 years of playing backgammon, I have been fortunate to have been given lessons and tips from some of the best players who ever lived. Here is the final part of my 10 best backgammon lessons:
backgammon lessons 8 – 10:
8. David Wells. I played for money and for fun many hours with David, and he’s a great backgammon player and teacher. When David explained a move, it sounded far different from when Sly (Joe Sylvester) or Jake explained a move. Dave was far more visual. Instead of giving me mathematical reasons for his move, he generally gave me visual, descriptive explanations. He didn’t want his inner board to look like “swiss cheese” he often said….meaning he didn’t want to make points that were separated, like the 6, 4, and 2. He wanted to make them in order. He wanted to play what is called “pure” backgammon, where you try to make blocks of points, primes, and keep your checkers together. I’ve always kept this visualization in mind.
9. Mary Franks. One of the best lady players in the game, Mary taught me something you don’t find in the books. She taught me money management. No matter what the odds say, if you are playing for money, and you’re looking at a 16 cube that is supposed to be taken, but there are very strong gammon risks, find a way to negotiate your way out of this, or drop the cube. Don’t worry if people tell you later it was a take. Most of those people are broke taking big cubes they should have taken.
10. Abbas Zaltash, Yamin Yamin, Neil Kazaross, Jake Jacobs, Laila Leonhart, Steve Mellen, Steve Sax, Malcolm Davis, Falafel, Peter Thompsen, David Wells, Frank Talbot, Mike Corbett, and many, many others taught me the most important lesson of all. If you sit down to play against people who are clearly better than you are, be prepared to lose. The key to winning in backgammon, as in most every competition, is try to play people who are worse than you!
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