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40 BG-Scribe (Commercial backgammon support software)

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

40 BG-Scribe (Commercial backgammon support software)

Software Review: BG-SCRIBE, A Program By Walter Trice.

Mark Damish (E-mail: damish@ll.mit.edu)

BG-Scribe -- A system for editing, replaying, and printing backgammon
matches for the IBM-PC by Walter Trice.

This is a program which I consider essential for myself. It will:
* Allow one to enter matches from books and magazines, or from those
personally recorded, to be played back and studied later. Entry is
done using the numeric keypad. After a while, you end up being
able to enter a match very quickly, and become quite proficient at
touch-typing the keypad to boot. An `AT' style keyboard is
preferable for entering matches.
* Play back matches purchased from Walter. Watching great matches
between the masters is definitely enlightening. My favorite
matches are the ones from annotated books. It shouldn't be hard to
write a program to convert a match from one format to another, if
already have a collection of matches. I've converted matches
posted to Internet by Butch Meese using nothing more than simple
editor macros. The matches are currently stored as plain ASCII
files---one directory per match, and one file per game.
* Print out matches to disk or printer. I like to: print out to
disk, annotate my comments using a simple editor, then print the
resulting file to a printer. The program will also embed diagrams
of positions to the printout, but it uses IBM graphics characters,
which might have to be changed if your printer doesn't support
them. The diagram feature is especially useful for diagramming
doubling decisions.

The program is run from one of two screens. The first is a text screen
with options for creating a new match, loading, saving, etc.

The second screen displays the backgammon board using a CGA 4 color,
40 column text mode. Trust me here---this mode, with its X's and O's,
looks a lot better than backgammon boards I've seen drawn using the
CGA 2 color graphics mode. Why CGA text mode? Probably because it will
run on any portable or palmtop machine, and likely on most PC
emulators on other platforms. It also runs fine in a window under MS
Windows, without having to mess around with a .pif file.

The second screen is where matches are entered or played back. When
playing back a match, you may see the dice, then the players choice,
and then see the move when the screen is updated. It is possible to go
forwards or backwards in a game. Although you may have entered your
rolls in `landing spot' format, the program can optionally display
them in `from/to' format. It only prints in the format which it was
entered though. You may also mark positions which you would like to
have diagrammed.

As stated above, the user interface consists of two screens. Unlike
modern X/Windows/Mac programs which do a lot for you, this program
assumes that what you tell, or don't tell the program is exactly what
you want. I.E.: You can enter data, then quit the program. If you
didn't save, the program won't prompt you. It is like driving a
standard after getting used to cruise control. The program does a lot,
you have to remember to tell it what to do though! The learning curve
has a slight incline, but the program is well worth the time it takes
to become familiar with it. I found the instructions clear.

I want to start bringing pen and steno paper to local events to record
some `master games' for later entry/playback. I also want to review
some of my `bad games', searching for weakness. There is a lot to be

The price of the program is $50, including 11 matches. Additional
matches are available from Walter.

I am not affiliated with BG-SCRIBE in any way, except for being a very
satisfied customer. Please mention where you saw this article if you
should contact Walter. I did mention to him that I was going to write
a review---Last spring!


Walter G. Trice
549 Wachusett St.
Holden, MA 01520

(508) 829-3283
e-mail wgt@world.std.com


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