Richard Rasker wrote: <snip>
I find the concept of luck, whatever it is, and varying personal
> For one thing: with a `personal luck-rating', one can no
> longer whine about bad luck unless he or she really has
> the numbers to show it :)
> Here are some rather basic ideas as how to `measure luck':
> - (Crude calculation) total number of pips rolled by a
> player vs. the number of pips actually moved, so that
> dancing and other situations where one can't move are
> counted as bad luck.
> - Number of shots vs. number of actual hits - I found
> that when it's possible to hit a checker, most of the
> time a player will hit. Not hitting anything with a given
> number of shots implies bad luck.
> - Number of possible ways to play a particular roll
> (maybe I'm getting into skill-territory here), the
> less ways a roll can be played, the less luck the
> player has.
> - (any other suggestion)
> I'm quite aware that the level of skill will somehow
> distort these calculations, so that unskilled players
> probably seem to be less lucky than skilled players.
> There must be lots of other snags in this whole concept,
> and maybe the whole idea is just a load of rubbish, but
> somehow it doesn't seem like complete nonsense.
> I'd work it out further myself if I had the time to really
> look into it - but I haven't even got time to play the actual
> game lately. Besides, I don't think I have the necessary
> insight in the matter, so I only hope that someone else
> thinks it's at least an idea worth looking at.
attitudes to it totally facinating. However, I don't think that
ratiocination, in the manner you suggest will resolve very much, since
most of the discussion on this subject is qualitative.
- Read Danny Kleinmann's Vision Laughs at Counting where he discusses
the relative contribution of luck and skill in BG, and concludes that it
is impossible to determine the importance of each since BG is a game of
- The volatility of the dice essentially expands the stochastic
search-space for a player. However, the *concept* of 'luck' is different
for humans than for 'bots, since 'bots are 'emotionally' indifferent to
luck and do not steam. This means that a human with good 'luck-handling'
skills is one who not only prepares for nightmare 5-5's, but who avoids
steaming after fanning four times on a two-point board, while for a 'bot
only the former situation applies. All experienced BG players recognise
this and exploit it. Remember Robertie's problem in 'Advanced
Backgammon' when he says that a take is a good practical option [though
technically incorrect] since the opponent will be severely shaken after
a loss? (implying that the short-term loss of equity in taking is more
than outweighed by dividends from future steaming). Thus, a quantitative
approach to rationalising 'luck', even if it were possible, would not
address the real problem, which is that different people *react*
differently to the same dice rolls [same amount of 'luck']
- Your mention of a 'personal luck rating' raises some interesting
questions. Are some players luckier than others? Are some versions of
JellyFish luckier than others? [judging by some of the recent posts, the
answer is yes :-) ] Joe Dwek in his intro to 'Backgammon for Profit'
admits that he believes that some players are fundamentally luckier than
others and so survive in schools stronger than their skills should merit
[note: he says he *believes* this, since this is unprovable], while
weaker, unlucky players give up the game quickly.
However, one should note that students of the game continue to study
(and rollout) only because they, in turn, *believe* in eventual
reversion to the mean or what is known as 'the long run'. Caveat: "Ars
longa, vita brevis." :-)
(who would prefer to be lucky, than skillful)