# n-point matches, why is n usually odd?

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### Scott Steiner

Oct 21, 2002, 6:57:50â€¯AM10/21/02
to
Hi,

why is it customary to play n-point matches where n is an odd number?
Is there anything particularly wrong about even point matches? Is there
any fundamental difference between playing a customary 7-point match and
say an 8-point match, apart that you need one point more of course.

Just thought this point was somewhat peculiar and I'm wondering if there
is anything behind this...

thx

### lmfback

Oct 21, 2002, 8:08:06â€¯AM10/21/02
to
In article <3DB3DD58...@nospam.nospam>, nos...@nospam.nospam
says...

Consider crawford. If you play a match to 3 or 5 you are more likely to
end up playing a crawford game than in a match to 4. And if you can
choose between your opponent being 1-away or "0-away"... :-)

Eskimo

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### Gregg Cattanach

Oct 21, 2002, 8:57:22â€¯AM10/21/02
to
Generally it makes a match go longer. If you play a 4 point match, there is
a pretty good possibility that it might be over in one game. An even
pointed match is also less likely to ever get to a crawford game.

Gregg C.

"Scott Steiner" <nos...@nospam.nospam> wrote in message
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### Michael Plog

Oct 21, 2002, 9:52:00â€¯AM10/21/02
to
I do not know the history behind the custom, but would love to. It makes
sense in one way, if you consider the doubling cube. The cube goes by even
numbers. By having an odd number of games for a match, doubling does not
get you to match point as quickly (unless, of course, both players are
really in love with turning the cube).

"Scott Steiner" <nos...@nospam.nospam> wrote in message
news:3DB3DD58...@nospam.nospam...

### Alef

Oct 21, 2002, 10:22:29â€¯AM10/21/02
to
2pt matches in particular are rather pointless since either side wishes to
double before losing their market, and then the cube is dead. Their only
real value is to backgammon hustlers who like to play them against weaker
players hoping they'll either not double quickly or will mistakenly drop a
take.

Also, 4pt, 6pt, 8pt... matches are more likely to turn into 2pt matches than
odd numbered ones. But for long matches it probably makes little difference.

-Alef

--------

Haven't yet found a suitably witty quote to place here.

### Zorba

Oct 21, 2002, 11:30:27â€¯AM10/21/02
to
Scott Steiner <nos...@nospam.nospam> wrote in message news:<3DB3DD58...@nospam.nospam>...

> Hi,

I think it's mainly because 2, 4 and 8 points might be scored
relatively often, considering gammons and the doubling cube. Because
of that, match score situations that arise might in general be a bit
more interesting with odd-point matches. Not such a big deal though.

But especially for longer matches it really doesn't matter much I
think, so perhaps it's also just tradition.

Nothing wrong f.i. with a 24pt match, or 18pt match, or 10pt match
compared to their nearest odd-point matches, IMO, but 2pt matches are
"weird" (because of cube strategy) and 4pt matches might finish a lot
earlier than 5pt matches I think, again because of the cube (and
gammons).

--
_
/
_ orba

### Gregg Cattanach

Oct 21, 2002, 11:59:49â€¯AM10/21/02
to

"Zorba" <zo...@chello.nl> wrote in message

> Nothing wrong f.i. with a 24pt match, or 18pt match, or 10pt match
> compared to their nearest odd-point matches, IMO, but 2pt matches are
> "weird" (because of cube strategy) and 4pt matches might finish a lot
> earlier than 5pt matches I think, again because of the cube (and
> gammons).
> /
> _ orba

Actually at a lot of the major weekend tournaments in the US there usually
is a 2-point tournament, alternately called the Mini-Match or the Quickie.
The entire tournament is 2-point matches, and they usually get 64, 128 or
even 512 entries (lots of re-entries). They could have made them 1-point
matches, but at least this way you get to do something with the cube.
(Several philosophies exist, of course, whether you should just double on

Gregg C.

### Silverfox

Oct 22, 2002, 3:00:20â€¯AM10/22/02
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Let's all not forget what was probably the original reason... Two people
said, "Let's play best of 5 with gammons being worth 2 and backgammons being
worth 3." This more than likely evolved into what we know today as a 3 point
match. Technically you could say, "Best 4 out of 7", but no one ever does
that (outside or inside the bg world). Odd numbers were the custom probably
long before Mr. Crawford came a long.

But all that is just a guess.

~Silverfox

"Scott Steiner" <nos...@nospam.nospam> wrote in message
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### Murat Kalinyaprak

Oct 22, 2002, 4:58:55â€¯AM10/22/02
to

lmfback wrote MPG.181e1a9f5...@news.lmf.ericsson.se

>> why is it customary to play n-point matches where n is an odd number?

> Consider crawford. If you play a match to 3 or 5 you are more likely to

> end up playing a crawford game than in a match to 4. And if you can
> choose between your opponent being 1-away or "0-away"... :-)

Although it makes me feel old to know that there was "backgammon"
before color TV (or even black-and-white TV, for that matter), here is
what I know:

Traditionally, backgammon has been played to 3, 5 or 7 points, with
5 points being overwhelmingly the most common...

And of course without the "cube" and without "backgammons" which
were injected into backgammon very recently (mostly by "gamblers"
anonimous and for "gambling" purposes)...

So, if you don't have much time, you play only a 3-point match, which
means that one player has to win at least 2 out of 3 or at the most 3
out of 5 games...

On the other hand, if you have time to waste, you play a 7-point match
(which is called "college backgammon", in Turkey) but nothing longer
than that...

If there is a serious challenge between two players and enough time,
then traditionally they will play "two fives" which means one has to win
two out of three 5-point matches...

And let me take the opportunity to get a little philosophical here for a
minute: I am very glad that I haven't been a child who grew up playing
video games in a 25th story flat but I had the priviledge of climbing
trees, running and flying kites in wheat fields, swimming and fishing
in clean running rivers, etc...

Simililarly, I am glad that I knew what it was like to play backgammon
without the cube (and to a lesser degree without "backgammons")...

Believe me, neither the 1-pointer "lack-gammons" nor the cubeful
"jack-gammons" have much to do with "backgammon" proper, (and
as it was in the good old days)... :((

MK

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Oct 22, 2002, 7:39:08â€¯AM10/22/02
to
for some reason, at 7-7 Jellyfish on Level 5 always doubles at more-or-les
s the first opportunity. Maybe it's just bored of playing me?!

Andy

In article <VvVs9.302\$NN1.14...@newssvr15.news.prodigy.com>,

Oct 22, 2002, 7:39:08â€¯AM10/22/02
to
Interesting: Jellyfish assumes you want to play a 9-point match.

Andy

In article <3db5...@post.newsfeed.com>, mu...@compuplus.net (Murat

### Warwick

Oct 22, 2002, 8:14:09â€¯AM10/22/02
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I laughed out loud when I read this Murat :)
I can readily imagine you in the Green party, "Save the rainforests, bring
back the fish and ban that bloody doubling cube before we are all go crazy".

Its a better soapbox than the scum sucking one, I hope ya stick to it :)

Rainforests aside - I have Hoyles rules of games here, and I though I'd let
you know he dates the introduction of the doubling cube at 1925 (approx). So
you are either 90, have your dates screwed up, or maybe both.

Warwick

"Murat Kalinyaprak" <mu...@compuplus.net> wrote in message
news:3db5...@post.newsfeed.com...

### Gregg Cattanach

Oct 22, 2002, 9:03:48â€¯AM10/22/02
to
news:ap3dcs\$nn3\$1...@thorium.cix.co.uk...

> for some reason, at 7-7 Jellyfish on Level 5 always doubles at more-or-les
> s the first opportunity. Maybe it's just bored of playing me?!
>

There isn't any equity loss from doubling on the first roll (and a real
possible gain if you lose your market on the next exchange by becoming more
than a 70% favorite), so it is 'rational' to double on the first roll at the
2-away, 2-away score. Jellyfish has been hard-coded (I think) to always
double at the first opportunity at this score.

Most people I've seen won't double if they see that they're an underdog,
hoping that the opponent will make the mistake of losing HIS market and
letting them make a proper pass and play from 2-away, 1-away, Crawford. And
some people will hold the cube when they're the favorite, hoping to give the
opponent a hard decision by reaching some position where they are very close
to that 70% favorite. So there are 5 techniques (sort of): 1) Double at
your first opportunity, 2) never double when an underdog hoping your
opponent loses his market, 3) always double when any kind of favorite, 4)
try to get close to 70% and then double to give the opponent a hard
decision, 5) double when there are ANY market losing exchanges.

You can make a case for all 5 ideas, but #5 is probably the most
mathematically correct. But #2 and #4 are more interesting and it seems
that's what I've seen done at most tournaments.

Also, once in a long while you get a situation when you can become too good
to double: (52: 24/22 13/8, 55: 8/3*(2) 6/1*(2), 31:Fans).

Gregg C.

### Douglas Zare

Oct 22, 2002, 2:42:55â€¯PM10/22/02
to

Gregg Cattanach wrote:

> [2-away 2-away]

> Also, once in a long while you get a situation when you can become too good
> to double: (52: 24/22 13/8, 55: 8/3*(2) 6/1*(2), 31:Fans).

Really? I definitely don't think that one is too good to double. I'd take, but I
wouldn't be surprised if it's technically a pass. It may depend on the MET.

A bit more to think about: Is 5-2: 24/22 13/8 6-6: 24/18(2) 13/7(2) 6-6: 8/2(4)
a market loser? Offhand, my guess is that it is not, but a lot of people would
pass. Since people don't know when to take or pass, why give them an easy
decision at the start of the game?

Douglas Zare

### Douglas Zare

Oct 22, 2002, 2:48:01â€¯PM10/22/02
to

Douglas Zare wrote:

> [2-away 2-away]

> A bit more to think about: Is 5-2: 24/22 13/8 6-6: 24/18(2) 13/7(2) 6-6: 8/2(4)
> a market loser?

Oops, that's not the way to play the second 6-6. I should have changed it to 5-1:
24/23 13/8, 6-6: 24/18(2) 13/7(2), 6-6 8/2(4).

Douglas Zare

### Gregg Cattanach

Oct 22, 2002, 3:26:08â€¯PM10/22/02
to
"Douglas Zare" <za...@math.columbia.edu> wrote in message
news:3DB59C4A...@math.columbia.edu...

>
>
> Gregg Cattanach wrote:
>
> > [2-away 2-away]
> > Also, once in a long while you get a situation when you can become too
good
> > to double: (52: 24/22 13/8, 55: 8/3*(2) 6/1*(2), 31:Fans).
>
> Really? I definitely don't think that one is too good to double. I'd take,
but I
> wouldn't be surprised if it's technically a pass. It may depend on the
MET.

I guess you're right on this one. Can you think of an early game situation
at 2-away, 2-away that suddenly becomes too good to double?

Gregg

### Douglas Zare

Oct 23, 2002, 1:28:15â€¯AM10/23/02
to

Gregg Cattanach wrote:

> Can you think of an early game situation
> at 2-away, 2-away that suddenly becomes too good to double?

Not really. It would take a doubling error from one side or the other, but
conceivably not a large one, particularly if combined with a checker play. If
you roll 6-6 early (making the bar point anchor), and then roll a double that
double-hits, and your opponent dances, this is often too good to double at this
match score. However, it is often right not to hit twice, but to clear the bar
point anchor and get ready to make an efficient double based on the racing lead,
and it is usually an error not to double after the 6-6.

Becoming too good to double can happen to a player who plays properly later in
the game if the opponent forgets to double. The game may turn around with a
joker, e.g., doubles from the bar that hit, followed by a dance.

Douglas Zare

Message has been deleted

### Albert Silver

Oct 23, 2002, 12:06:30â€¯PM10/23/02
to
"Warwick" <dhaw...@xtra.co.nz> wrote in message news:<eibt9.193\$8o1....@news.xtra.co.nz>...

> I laughed out loud when I read this Murat :)
> I can readily imagine you in the Green party, "Save the rainforests, bring
> back the fish and ban that bloody doubling cube before we are all go crazy".
>
> Its a better soapbox than the scum sucking one, I hope ya stick to it :)
>
> Rainforests aside - I have Hoyles rules of games here, and I though I'd let
> you know he dates the introduction of the doubling cube at 1925 (approx). So
> you are either 90, have your dates screwed up, or maybe both.

Just in case the mention of "he" wasn't merely a figure of speech.
Hoyle never wrote a thing about backgammon, or any board game for that
matter. He wrote a manual on 3 card games some 200 years ago and that
was that. Today, it's just a bunch of contract writers working for a
publisher smart enough to make "According to Hoyle" a by-name. It is a
nice collection of games to pass away a rainy day, but I put zero
weight on any factual information contained therein.

I read that Robertie placed the origin of the cube somewhere around
1926-1927. I'll add that a book called "Modern Backgammon" published
in 1928 contained a chapter on the doubling cube.

Albert Silver

>
> Warwick

### Bob Lancaster

Oct 23, 2002, 12:48:56â€¯PM10/23/02
to
"Murat Kalinyaprak" <mu...@compuplus.net> wrote in message news:<3db5...@post.newsfeed.com>...

Strange as it may seem, Murat has a point.

Back in the days when I lived in NYC, I learned that there were any
number of games that could be played on the backgammon board. It's
just that in the US, the only games we generally play are backgammon,
and sometime acey-duecy. So, we miss out on all of the other games.

Also, the rules vary. I have played bg with folks from Greece and
Iran, and I know the rules are different in those countries. For
example, in Iran 'pick and pass' plays within your home board are
banned. I think they stone you to death if you do that.

The rules for acey-duecy tend to vary even more. I used to play
acey-duecy with a friend in NYC during lunch. I also played against
an ex-Marine on a boat in Texas a few times on a visit, and the rules
were noticably different. I just can't remember the differences.

The international version of backgammon is the New York variant.
Based on the very early backgammon books, I get the impression that
the doubling cube was introduced in the NY Racquet club (now part of
the NY Health and Racquet Club) circa 1925. By the late 1960's, even
the world backgammon championships didn't use the cube for all levels
of play. Of course, starting in the 70's the game was revolutionized
by a group of players that used to hang out in the Mayfair, who have
sinced moved on to the Coterie. (Of course there was a West Coast
contingent as well. I don't want to offend the many excellent players
in CA, etc. ).

I have also heard from a well known Greek-American player that the
Greek backgammon players are not as good as they think they are. I
don't know if this is true of Turks or not. (and no, this
Greek-American player doesn't owe me any money).

In other words, international backgammon, aka New York backgammon, is
just one variety of the game. I prefer it, because of the
complexities introduced by the doubling cube, but that is just my
taste.

And please, be kind to Murat. Every village needs an idiot.

-Bob Lancaster

(Warning-- the email address listed on my post is incorrect)

### Silverfox

Oct 24, 2002, 12:42:31â€¯AM10/24/02
to
Nice post Murat. Much better than usual.

~Silverfox

"Murat Kalinyaprak" <mu...@compuplus.net> wrote in message
news:3db5...@post.newsfeed.com...

### Murat Kalinyaprak

Oct 24, 2002, 4:52:29â€¯AM10/24/02
to

> Strange as it may seem, Murat has a point.

Why is it strange... Just because you can't comprehend and/or don't
agree with what I have to say...??

> in the US, the only games we generally play are backgammon, and
> sometime acey-duecy. So, we miss out on all of the other games.

Yes, it is really too bad and it is so because BG in the US is almost
entirely dominated/influenced by a handful of compulsive gamblers...

I had once mentioned a variation where one of the players doesn't
get to play the 1's he rolls, for example. A very simple variation as
far as rules go. One player plays his rolls normally but the other player
can't play any 1's that he rolls and instead his opponent gets to play
them. If he rolls a 5-1, for example, he plays the 5 and his opponent
plays the 1. If he rolls a 1-1, he doesn't get to play anything but his
opponent gets t play the 1-1... Obviously, the player who can't play
the 1's is at an enormous disadvantage and the other player will offer
some unequal odds or spot him some points... A common practice
is to play a 7-point match starting at 6-0 in favor of the player who
can't play the 1's...

Playing variations of BG with such twists really gives a guy a whole
different perspective and could help the Moronians here to pull their
single-track-brained heads out of their dumb asses... But, alas... :((

> The international version of backgammon is the New York variant.
> Based on the very early backgammon books, I get the impression
> that the doubling cube was introduced in the NY Racquet club (now
> part of the NY Health and Racquet Club) circa 1925. By the late
> 1960's, even the world backgammon championships didn't use the

> cube for all levels of play....

Thanks for all this info...

> I have also heard from a well known Greek-American player that
> the Greek backgammon players are not as good as they think
> they are. I don't know if this is true of Turks or not.

My impression is that they are much less worried about the precise
odds and numbers but enjoy playing as fast as they can, with lots
of talking, teasing, riddling, etc. and undoubtedly have much more
fun at it... At the speed most "Americans" play, a Turk would get
too bored to even finish the first game... Yes, they have a way of
exaggerating a little but on the other hand "Greek-Americans",
"Turkish-Americans", "Iranian-Americans", etc. have a way to look
down on people back home...

> In other words, international backgammon, aka New York
> backgammon, is just one variety of the game. I prefer it, because
> of the complexities introduced by the doubling cube,

However, many people who make the same claim won't support
"Murat-gammon" where players can "up the cube" by arbitrary
values between N+1 and Nx2 (N being the current value of cube).

OK, I can understand that Moronians don't have the brains to handle
the complexity that would be introduced by this but how about at
least playing some other variations like with "tripling cube" instead
of "doubling cube"... Do you think you would have brains enough to
hand that level of compexity...??

> And please, be kind to Murat. Every village needs an idiot.

You are right, any village of Moronians blessed with an idiot should
consider themselves as "god-chosen"... And if it's going to make
you feel better, an idiot needs a village of Moronians just as much...