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25 Expert Backgammon (Commercial backgammon playing programs)

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This article is from the Backgammon FAQ, by Mark Damish damish@ll.mit.edu with numerous contributions by others.

25 Expert Backgammon (Commercial backgammon playing programs)

Expert Backgammon 2.1 for PC: List of features.

Mark Damish E-Mail: damish@ll.mit.edu

Here is some initial information on Expert Backgammon version 2.1 for
the IBM PC.

I remember November 92, the first time I walked into a
backgammon club to participate in a tourney. After playing on
FIBS for a month, I thought that I was already a decent player.
Wrong. I won a match, and lost a match. Afterwards, I played a
few games for $1/point. I reached a simple and common holding
game position where I was doubled, and thought surely it was
worth 25%, and took. My opponent, being helpful to a newcomer,
pointed out that the position was only worth about 15%. Later,
I was able to verify his claim using Expert Backgammon, and had
my first 'benchmark' position. I have since used Expert
Backgammon to benchmark many other simple positions, as well as
to play hundreds of games against it.

What it is:
Expert Backgammon, (EXBG), is a program which allows you to
play backgammon against the computer either in a `money' or
`tournament' format. It also allows you enter a position, and
let the computer `roll it out' --- that is, to let it play both
sides many times, and show you the results. Expert Backgammon
is currently one of the stronger computer program available
commercially, and the game version is quite affordable!

Brief Description of EXBG versions:
Expert Backgammon is currently available in two releases: 1.61,
and 2.1. Release 2.1 has 3 different versions, with different

      EXBG 2.1  GAME VERSION    $50.  Plays the game of backgammon.
      EXBG 2.1  EXPERT VERSION $150.  Plays BG, and Rolls out positions.
      EXBG 2.1  PRO VERSION    $300.  Plays BG, and Rolls out positions. Has
                                      some advanced rollout features.

EXBG 1.61 EXPERT VERSION $100 Plays BG, and Rolls out positions.

Upgrades from EXBG 1.61[expert] to EXBG 2.1[expert] $60
Upgrades from EXBG 1.61[expert] to EXBG 2.1[pro] $200
There are other upgrades available for the other versions as well.

Some Random Features (pro version):

+ Fast non mouse interface for moving the checkers.
+ Match or Money play options.
+ Optional Jacoby rule.
+ Cube profile statistics.
+ Save positions for future evaluation.
+ Save games to be played back later.
+ Computer can suggest a move.
+ Shot counter.
+ Computer can finish game, when it becomes routine.
+ Woolsey or 35% (Friedman?) match equity table for matches.
+ Pip count.
+ Quick or Extended cube searches. Speed vs. accuracy.
+ Rollouts:
o Random dice.
o Sequenced dice for one or two sides. That is all 36
possible starting combinations for one or two sides.
o Rollout multiple positions simultaneously in batch mode.
o Duplicate dice when rolling out multiple positions.

Less than 5 seconds per game to play a game from the starting
position on a 486DX2-66 processer. This assumes that the
graphical display is disabled. ie: moves and rolls are not

Seems stronger than 1.61.

Strength is also a somewhat controversial subject. Can the
machine play a complex prop as well as a human who is familiar
with the position? Does the machine have any 'blind spots' in
early game play? Can it 'work a prime' to get a second checker
when needed? Does it blitz too often, not enough? 'Seems
stronger' is as far as I'll venture until I learn more about
how to play the game myself! See the section on How good is
good? for Bill Roberties ratings of backgammon programs.

Copy Protection:
The program is copy protected. The distribution disks will
allow you to install the program to two hard disks, as well as
allowing you to run the program from the floppy. You may
'uninstall' the program from the hard disk, back to the floppy
for installation on another disk/machine if required. It is
best to uninstall the program before using backup programs, or
reformatting your hard disk/partition, as you can loose your
Early versions of 1.61 used a differant scheme. They simply
stopped running after a certain date. The authur supplies free
updates to those with the early protection scheme.

Sample Cube Analysis Screen:

                   B L A C K   C U B I N G   A N A L Y S I S
      C  U  B  E    Game won by - lost by    Gammons    Backgammons  Equity
   location  size   cube  play  cube play  won   lost  won    lost   /Game
     Center    1    47     3    22    8     4     9     0      0      0.108
     Black     2     8     0     0   11     0     0     0      1     -0.600
     Red       2     0    21     2    2     4     0     2      0      2.000
     Black     4     1     0     0    1     0     0     0      0      0.000
     Red       4     0     1     1    0     0     0     0      0      0.000
     Black     8     0     0     0    1     0     0     0      0     -8.000

01-21-1994 The Jacoby Rule was NOT USED
Only Money Play with Extended Cube Search
MARK won 61.074% of the games played

Equity for MARK = 0.349 per game for 149 games
Cubeless equity for MARK = 0.228

Net equity when Black took a 2 cube = -0.870 per game
Net equity when Red took a 2 cube = 1.879 per game

[An above average performance in this set.]

Help Screen:

           F1 = MENU OF AVAILABLE OPTIONS - Professional Edition
   A - Automatic Double                  Ctrl+A - Automatic Concession
   B - Beaver                            Ctrl+B - Clear Board
   C - Checker Setup                     Ctrl+C - Cube Setup
   D - Double the Cube                   Ctrl+D - Manual Dice Entry
   E - Extended Cube Search              Ctrl+E - Match Equity
   F - New Player Name                   Ctrl+F - File - Alternate Path
   G - Game - Money or Match Play        Ctrl+G - Delete Game
   H - On-Line Help Service              Ctrl+H - Using Option Defaults
   I - Invert Position                   Ctrl+I - Alter the Starting Position
   J - Jacoby Rule                       Ctrl+J - Title for Rollout
   K - Monitor Type                      Ctrl+K - Player Cube Profile
   L - Level of Difficulty               Ctrl+L - Listing of Game
   M - Take Back Move
   N - Sound                             Ctrl+N - Start New Game
   O - Options Currently Selected        Ctrl+O - Open Position
   P - Player on Roll                    Ctrl+P - Print Position
   Q - Show PiP Count                    Ctrl+Q - Black Shotcounter
   R - Replay Game                       Ctrl+R - Rollout Position
   S - Speed of Checker Movement         Ctrl+S - Save Position
   T - Suggest Move for Black            Ctrl+T - Match Win % Table
   U - Skip Save Game/Position           Ctrl+U - Delete Position
   V - Black Detailed Shotcounter
   W - Expert to Finish the Game         Ctrl+W - Write Rollout to Disk
   X - Cancel Move and Reroll Dice       Ctrl+X - Print Disk Rollout
   Z - Zero the Score
   Spacebar - Roll the Dice              Escape - Leave EXBG

Rollout summary printout:


    Date: 12-12-1993                              Games viewed = 0
    File: 65_21_A                                 Summary only = 1296
    Version: 2.1                                  1296 games rolled out at
    Used Hrs:Min:Sec 1:37:41                      4.522 seconds per game.
                    Batched Duplicate Rollout of 1296  games.
                    No doubling allowed - Cube at 1 level

[ Diagram of board position was cut from here...]

               O on roll.
                 O won
      45.83%     games        594
      11.42%    gammons       148
       0.46%  backgammons       6
      57.72% of the games     748
      +0.170 points per game.
                 X won
      32.18%     games        417
       9.41%    gammons       122
       0.69%  backgammons       9
      42.28% of the games.    548
      -0.170 points per game.

The dice rolls were generated randomly.

Note: There is also a screen which shows the results of several games
rolled out simultaniously.

Note: Above screens were 'captured' by redirecting my printer port to
a file, and have been edited slightly.

Ordering Info:
Tom Weaver
Expert Backgammon
8063 Meadow Road, # 108
Dallas, Texas

Call: Expert Backgammon (214) 692-1234 M-F 10am-10pm Central US
time. An answering service answers when Tom isn't around.

Tom also has an email address: tomweave@netcom.com

Also available from Carol Joy Cole and The GAMMON PRESS.

A Macintosh version of Expert Backgammon is also available.
Contact the sources above, or Tom Johnson (auther) directly
atkomodo@netcom.com. A demo of the Macintosh version is
available for anonymous ftp from:


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