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I play online backgammon to ward off an online Scrabble addiction. Sometimes, like as of late, the online backgammon becomes a problem itself.

There's a certain amount of luck in any backgammon game, but online, the laws of probability are completely suspended. I do believe that all three places I've played--MSN, Yahoo, and the one that links from the computer's games menu--are rigged for maximum chaos. You can play a perfectly sound and logical game, getting to a board position where the only possible way you can lose is two or three improbable rolls in a row, and that will happen with improbable frequency. It keeps you playing.

Playing the computers are different. Unlike chess or Scrabble computers--playing Quackle is like playing the world's greatest Scabble player--backgammon computers are as dumb as a rock (or at least the ones on those sites are). All they know how to do is hit, which they do indiscriminately and without regard to leaving men uncovered. Most games against the computer end with five to ten of its men stuck in your inner board. I'm not a chess player, but if a computer can be programmed to play chess brilliantly, there must be smart backgammon computers too--most moves are automatic, and whatever intuition is involved, surely there's not nearly as much as in chess.

clemenza, Sunday, 8 March 2015 07:03 (five years ago) link

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