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Old 05-17-2017, 07:24 AM   #1
Keir
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Marc Brockman Olsen's new book

Is 'Backgammon: Pure Strategy' a book worth getting? How does it compare to other books out there for advanced/expert players?
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:54 AM   #2
Robertie
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Re: Marc Brockman Olsen's new book

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keir View Post
Is 'Backgammon: Pure Strategy' a book worth getting? How does it compare to other books out there for advanced/expert players?
Can't recommend it. I bought it and got about 1/3 of the way through, but then I gave up. Two problems:

(1) The book lists as 450+ pages, but many pages contain only a single diagram or a single table. There's more white space than I've ever seen in a book. In the hands of a good typesetter and editor this book would have been about 250 pages.

(2) The book contains so many misspellings, grammatical errors, and typos that it's painful to read. I realize the author is not a native speaker of English, but in that case you just have to find a good proofreader.
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:58 AM   #3
Keir
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Re: Marc Brockman Olsen's new book

Thanks for the feedback. How did you rate the content (what you read of it)?
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Old 05-21-2017, 10:52 AM   #4
911InsideJob
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Re: Marc Brockman Olsen's new book

I actually like this book.

Olsen lays out a strategical approach to reading the board, and outlines his thinking process to finding the best moves and cube actions. His cube evaluation techniques are unique and may not work for everyone but are a worthwhile read in my opinion.

In the first section of the book Olsen catalogs all the various factors that make a backgammon position weak or strong. Examples include structure, the race, inner board strength, safety, outer board control, timing, etc.

Olsen looks at typical position types (early blitz, backgame, containment game, etc) in the second section. He attempts to apply the factors from the first section to each position type. I like this approach, as it orients you to *what* you should be thinking about in a given position. For example, if you are conducting a blitz you should give high priority or "weight" (his term) to attacking and the race and less weight to priming.

The third section outlines the author's own unique approach to cube evaluation. He breaks down any position into four factors - Prime, Blitz, Race, and Contact value. He considers who has the advantage in each of these areas and how sizable is the advantage (small, medium or large). The results guide your doubling and taking decisions.

Finally, the last section of the book contains various problems. You are encouraged to apply the concepts by testing your thought process against the author's explanations. More important than getting the answer right or wrong is to see if you were thinking about the right things.

I found this a thought provoking book and a valuable contribution to the backgammon literature. I would recommend it to any student of the game.
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Old 05-21-2017, 11:09 AM   #5
Keir
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Re: Marc Brockman Olsen's new book

Quote:
Originally Posted by 911InsideJob View Post
I actually like this book.

Olsen lays out a strategical approach to reading the board, and outlines his thinking process to finding the best moves and cube actions. His cube evaluation techniques are unique and may not work for everyone but are a worthwhile read in my opinion.

In the first section of the book Olsen catalogs all the various factors that make a backgammon position weak or strong. Examples include structure, the race, inner board strength, safety, outer board control, timing, etc.

Olsen looks at typical position types (early blitz, backgame, containment game, etc) in the second section. He attempts to apply the factors from the first section to each position type. I like this approach, as it orients you to *what* you should be thinking about in a given position. For example, if you are conducting a blitz you should give high priority or "weight" (his term) to attacking and the race and less weight to priming.

The third section outlines the author's own unique approach to cube evaluation. He breaks down any position into four factors - Prime, Blitz, Race, and Contact value. He considers who has the advantage in each of these areas and how sizable is the advantage (small, medium or large). The results guide your doubling and taking decisions.

Finally, the last section of the book contains various problems. You are encouraged to apply the concepts by testing your thought process against the author's explanations. More important than getting the answer right or wrong is to see if you were thinking about the right things.

I found this a thought provoking book and a valuable contribution to the backgammon literature. I would recommend it to any student of the game.
Thanks very much for the feedback! What exactly is meant by 'Contact value', by the way?
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Old 05-25-2017, 08:40 AM   #6
cboevey
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Re: Marc Brockman Olsen's new book

I've not read the book, but for me, contact value would be the amount by which contact favours one side or the other.

If you were in a medium to long race without contact (your checkers are past his and his checkers are past yours, racing to see who bears off first), you could estimate your winning chances by a function of the pip counts with adjustments e.g. Kleinman's formula, Keith count, I-sight etc.

Now, if you had the same pipcounts in the previous example, but had contact i.e. the checkers were not past each other, then there is another way for a side to win, by hitting. Often the contact will improve the winning chances of the player further behind in the race. If he is unlikely to win the race, he won't try and race, but try hold things together and hope to hit a shot. The difference in winning probabilities between the straight race and race + contact would be the contact value.
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Old 06-01-2017, 05:25 PM   #7
Keir
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Re: Marc Brockman Olsen's new book

Thank you!
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Old 06-02-2017, 03:44 AM   #8
kruidenbuiltje
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Re: Marc Brockman Olsen's new book

Hello Keir,

I like how Olsen breaks backgammon down in concepts.
And his own variation of the old Position/Race/Threat idea is interesting.

He applies it in a lot of "cube decision" positions and it seems to work there.
But in the checker play positions he does not apply his own theory, he merely describes the positions
and shares his thoughts (useful, but not fitting in the framework of his book).

Robertie is right about the mass of text errors, I'm not English (I'm Dutch), but I notice a lot of mistakes too.

The most interesting book I own so far for advanced/expert players is "Improve your backgammon", from Paul Lamford.
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Old 06-02-2017, 05:53 AM   #9
Keir
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Re: Marc Brockman Olsen's new book

Thank you!
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Old 06-06-2017, 02:08 PM   #10
GrantHoffman
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Re: Marc Brockman Olsen's new book

Marc's book is a good book. Yes, there are spelling errors but I have emailed him and they will be removed in the next edition and kindle version.

Paul Lamfordyo's book - well I rolled it out and you need to before you accept what he says. His race formula's are too complex (and I use Arthur Benjamin's Modified Klienman count) and are there are better available.

Books can only take you so far, I used the Backgammon Learning Center to get affordable personal lessons.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:25 AM   #11
SkuijsNL
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Re: Marc Brockman Olsen's new book

I like his new book but not so much in learning the positions in the book but more learning the mindset of backgammon.

His first book is better but i would still recommend this for anyone wanting to learn backgammon.
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