I just started playing internet Backgammon last week. (I first figured out that I could do it with the XP machine I recently purchased.)
I love the game. Not so much the online competition though.
I have been playing the game since I don’t know how long. I honestly don’t remember my first time learning, it’s been that long. I’m thinking I had to be about 7 or 8 years old. 36 now. The game comes very naturally to me. Most moves I don’t even have to think about at this point, even during a more complex game where the flow has been fouled up due to bumps and unnatural strings of double and such.
Now, the online part;
I started as a beginner and that didn’t work out so well. Most players at this level are simply immature. Quit the match after a bad loss, or worse yet, quit the game when you bump them or get a couple of lucky shakes. I like to aggressively cover points in my home court first and then try to get a player off balance and locked in.
The doubling dice might as well have been tossed out the window at this level.
Then I tried the Expert level. Much better. Not that the talent is any better but I thnk the rest of the players at this level realised that you have less of a Jerk-off factor when you play at this level. Players will stay in till the bitter end no matter how bad they’re loosing. I had a guy down (pip count) 147-26 last night and he stuck it out (he had the doubling cube). He also had a point covered in my home court and was hoping for an unlucky roll on my part that would have left one of my pieces open.
Anyway, I’m pretty agressive with the doubling cube. I’ll offer it even if my PIP count is higher than his because I can assess the status and flow of the game and the position of the pieces regardless of the PIP count. I have only had one player double back so far (in about 100 games). Often times I offer the cube just to make the game more interesting from the get-go, and have had a couple guys resign right away?? I have not met an aggressive player yet.
I think I need to join a backgammon players site.
Are you playing the game that comes installed on your computer through Zone.com? If so, I’d definitely suggest some other type of game experience. I think the game’s software is written so as to assure a fairly even distribution of wins and losses. The rolls that occur are often so fortuitous as to defy belief. And I’ve seen strings of doubles routinely that I never see in person-to-person play.
I think this is why so many people get pissed and bail. They get disgusted with the obviously unnatural “rolls” that occur. I also suspect the game “punishes” unconventional play, not so much intentionall but because the software is written to contend with tradional types of play.
I like to play an unusual game where I force my oponents to hit me often and I wind up with pieces scattered all over the board, and often with three or four of my oponents pips blocked by me. This does a very good job of keeping my opponents off their game and frequently works to my advantage as by the time I eventually work my way around to cover my home board, I have many of their pieces trapped. Also, it’s not much of big deal when I get hit as my opponent hardly has anything covered on their home board. (Did I mention this tactic also greatly frustrates my opponents and it also drastically increases the amount of time it takes to play a game.) Anyway, I’ve given up using that tactic with Zone.com because the rolls that result are supremely unnatural (three, four and even five sets of double-fives or double-sixes in a row, etc.) and almost always result in my getting beaten, whereas such would not be the case in one-on-one play.
I haven’t seen any series of dice rolls yet that would suggest that the games are fixed. YMMV.
Sometimes I’ll roll the same double that my opponent just rolled, that seems to be the most common fix, if there are any.
My record for consecutive doubles in a real game (against my Dad) is six. Unholy.
'Course, I won that game, but most of the doubles couldn’t be used (points covered).
SA, have you been successful in using the doubling die? And do you play on the Expert level?
Yes, I’ve been able to use the doubling die without difficulty, but the game limits its usage. I’ve never taken the time to find out the proper circumstances under which it can be used, but you can’t just use it anytime you want. But the doubling cube doesn’t really count for anything though in terms of psychology against your opponent because nothing more than the game is at stake, so I haven’t pursued the issue.
Zone.com does have, I believe, another version available to those who join the site. I think that if you do that, you have knowledge of the other person you are playing and you are able to have a more personal interaction with them. I believe you can also choose who you want to play with. I’ve just never bothered to join because I figured there was a catch somewhere, otherwise why not just make these options available to everyone?
Regarding successions of doubles, six in a row would indeed be unusual, but the frequency of doubles overall, combined with just the right roll needed to either screw you up in the game’s late stages, or to get your opponent out of tight spots, just seems way too pat to me. I can sometimes see it coming when I’m being set up to take a screwing. I know what I’m going to be forced to do and I know what the result will be. Then, sure enough, that’s what happens and boy, do I get ticked.
Another thing I was wondering was;
How is it that I have never had to wait more than about five seconds for a new player? Are there so many people playing at any given time that there will always be a new player available? At first I thought maybe I was playing against AI opponents but I don’t get the sense that that could be the case anymore.
Have you played enough to have players suddenly bail on you when you don’t expect it? I suspect that Zone.com’s software will kill a game in progress in order to connect with a new player. Often this occurs while the game is just connecting or in its early stages. It doesn’t seem to happen so much in the later stages, although I have had occasions when opponents have bailed suddenly even though it was clear they were going to win. Based on the fact that sometimes these players had shown themselves to be polite and considerate players by virtue of the messages they would send during the game, it would seem unlikely that they would just bail on someone they’re beating without so much as a word. I know that sometimes people are at work or something and have to end play abruptly, but after a time you get a sense of how things usually go and for players to bail in this way just doesn’t seem kosher.
All in all, I’m just not very pleased with Zone.com when it comes to Backgammon.
Checkers, on the other hand, does not seem to present these kinds of problems, although you still often have games inexplicably disconnect several times before one “takes.” But generally, Checkers is relatively problem free and I find I’m starting to play Checkers most of the time if I’m going to use Zone.com.
You’re talking about the Internet Backgammon in the Start menu of windows, right?
I like MSN games. You definitely get real human opponents there, all levels of play. You can select someone with a high rating in the competitive rooms. Much better chat. Some people who like playing 64 point games, with aggressive doubling.
The thing is though, it’s still a Zone.com site, Peter, so I’m wondering about how the software controls the throws of the dice. Does it seem to you that the throws are truly random, moreso than on the site you get to from the Start menu?
I used to have a paid membership at Netgammon. There’s plenty of good competition there. You still get your duds but not that often. I’m not sure what the free version is like. You have to download their software but I really liked their software. Players are rated so you can choose to play with people of your own skill level but I think you have to be a paid subsriber to be rated and the serious players don’t always want to play with non-rated players. You can play with people from all over the world, which is interesting. It’s run by a French outfit so it can be a little difficult to communicate if you need customer service but that was never a deal breaker for me.
As far as I can see, the throws are random on both. I’ve not seen any convincing evidence they are fixed. Sometimes I make throw after throw not getting the number I need, other times I get exactly the throw I want several times running. It all evens out in the end.