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501 Essential Backgammon Problems Paperback – March 1, 2000

11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Cardoza; First Edition edition (March 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580420192
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580420198
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #904,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Robertie
(Poker, Backgammon, Chess)

When Bill Robertie started playing chess as a boy, he could have had no idea that his single-minded focus on that game would eventually lead to significant world-wide achievements in 3 games - chess, backgammon and poker.

As a young man, Robertie played chess for Arlington High School (where he met fellow Metropolitan league player from Christopher Columbus High School, Dan Harrington). Robertie was the captain of his chess team for 3 years at Harvard College. He won the U.S. Speed Chess Championship and tied for First in the Golden Knights, the U.S. postal chess championship. He also gave simultaneous blind-fold exhibitions on 8 boards. A lifelong devotee of the game, Bill Robertie has written extensively on chess (Master Checkmate Strategy; Easy Endgame Strategies) and is a chess book collector with a complete set of "Chess Life" going back to 1932, missing only 1991 and 1992, for which he is actively searching.

In 1976, Robertie switched to backgammon, where his years of studying and playing chess served him especially well. Robertie very quickly became a world-class backgammon player - winning multiple tournaments including the Monte Carlo World Backgammon Championship twice, the Boston Black & White tournament, the Bahamas Pro-Am and the Istanbul World Cup. He is the author of 10 classic, best-selling backgammon books including Modern Backgammon, Advanced Backgammon V1, Advanced Backgammon V2 and 501 Essential Backgammon Problems.

In 2003, Robertie's remarkable game career took another important turn when he & Dan Harrington (now a poker player and World Series of Poker champion) co-authored their first poker book, Harrington on Hold'em/Strategic Play (published by Mason Malmuth's 2+2 Publishing). The first poker book that was written clearly so that players could easily get a sense of the true nuances of the game, Harrington on Hold'em/Strategic Play quickly became an instant classic, changing poker playing overnight and becoming a must-read for serious students of the game. They followed it up with Harrington on Hold'em/The Endgame, Harrington on Hold'em/The Workbook, Harrington on Cash Games V1 and Harrington on Cash Games V2, with other "Harrington" series books in the works.

Today, Bill Robertie still writes extensively on backgammon and poker. He moderates the Backgammon Forum at He also travels to backgammon and poker tournaments world-wide, and offers backgammon coaching (in person in Boston and New York City and via phone and special in-person arrangements world-wide). Details at


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 103 people found the following review helpful By BigCityPlayer on March 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
As I start to read Bill Robertie's latest book, 501 Essential Backgammon Problems, I am informed in the preface that he is the world's best backgammon player. So far so good.
For those of you unaware, Robertie, former two time world champion, has already written many books on backgammon and together with Kent Goulding co-published the sadly now defunct, but at the time premier magazine "Inside Backgammon".
As the title suggests, it is a compilation of 501 problems, split 360 checker plays v 141 cube actions. (67 doubles 74 redoubles). After the introductory chapters covering notation/probability/basic doubling strategy etc, there are 26 chapters covering many of the important concepts in backgammon from the opening to the bearoff. These are:
The Opening, Flexibility, The Middle Game, The 5-point, One Man Back, Priming Games, Connectivity, Hit Or Not?, Crunch Positions, Action Doubles, Late Game Blitz, Post-Blitz Turnaround Games, Ace-Point Games Back Games, The Containment, Game Post-Ace-Point Games, Saving The Gammon, The Race, Various Endgames, Bearing Off Against Contact, The Blitz, Breaking Anchor, Too Good To Double?, Playing For A Gammon, The Bearoff, Holding Games,
The book manages to cram the 501 positions and analyses into 384 pages of a book measuring just 23x15cms. This is achieved by squashing the diagrams with the effect of making the checkers oval. The problems in each chapter are all bunched together first and the solutions at the end of the chapter hence cutting down on the need to avoid looking at the analysis.
It's target audience is everybody from beginner to expert level. The only group that maybe wouldn't find many parts of this book valuable would be world class players.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By ANDRE LUIS QUADROS AMOEDO on November 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you are a backgammon lover, this book must be on your personal library. Robertie analises problems in each point of the game, since opening rolls until the bear off. The hints are clear and at first read you can discover many points you would play in a different(and awnkward) position. As you read the topics you will feel imediately a good development in your game, specially if you try to solve then before looking for the solutions. The secret of this book is figure out the different way of think in each situation and time of the game. A great book that can be easily consulted by anytime.The book is shared in the following chapters: *THE OPENING *FLEXIBILITY *THE MIDDLE GAME *THE 5-POINT *THE BLITZ *ONE MAN BACK *HOLDING GAMES *PRIMING GAMES *CONNECTIVITY *HIT OR NOT? *BREAKING ANCHOR *CRUNCH POSITIONS *ACTION DOUBLES *LATE GAME BLITZ *POST-BLITZ TURNAROUND GAMES *TOO GOOD TO DOUBLE? *ACE-POINT GAMES* BACK GAMES* THE CONTAINMENT GAME* POST-ACE-POINT GAMES*
SAVING THE GAMMON* BEARING OFF AGAINST CONTACT *VARIOUS ENDGAMES *THE RACE *THE BEAROFF *Plus an introduction with basic rules and backgammon notations and a final chapter with places to play backgammon.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Steve Cothran on April 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
The 501 positions examine your approach to the game from beginning to end.
Robertie's solutions so closely mirror my JellyFish Tutor recommendations that I have simply dropped the examples into JellyFish and only consult the book when I have a disagreement with the bot.
Therein is the second value in this book for me: Robertie's analysis is succinct and sticks to themes over theory. When I do perhaps 50 positions quickly, only noting where I differ from the bot, and then read Robertie's suggestions for these positions, I usually find a recurring theme pointing to a weakness in my game.
For me, this book is ultimately what I've made of it, Robertie has provided the necessary resources and I recommend this book as such.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David Rogers on March 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
While studying this book I noticed that my game improved dramatically. I gained a much better understanding of duplicating, slotting, and use of the cube. I am no expert but I am now challenging the best players in our club!
If you are looking for examples this IS the book you should get!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David Siegel on June 26, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i keep going back to this book to relearn what it has taught me! backgammon is easy when the dice go your way. this book puts you in tough positions and tight spots and helps you get out of them. makes me a much more robust player.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark James on February 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The reviews for this book are good, so I don't want to repeat their analysis. What I will add is why I have given/sold/recommended this book to dozens of struggling backgammon players.

There are only a couple paragraphs before each chapter. You "read" it like you "read" the chess puzzle in a newspaper.

Backgammon is primarily a money game, although tournament play is very popular with strong players. This book is for money play. This book will save you a *lot* of money as you learn. For beginners, the first time through, many of the positions will seem impossibly difficult to understand. The cube decisions may be mystifying. But go through it twice before you judge it. You will see results in your play.

Magriel's book, Backgammon, is still the best starter book for basic strategy and understanding themes in backgammon. There are better (specialized) advanced backgammon books. I have seen no backgammon book, however, which can more quickly get a players' game to improve dramatically. Its fun, and its easy to go through.

For intermediate/advanced players, many of the positions are easy, but also great reminders of the need for understanding transitional positions, especially backgames where you hit a loose checker.

Critiques: there are not enough end game positions, yes, there are many positions where more alternatives should be given, but this is a "bathroom" book, it is not intended to be a critical analysis of every situation. What 501 does is present the game's complexities in a broad range of positional types, and let you solve a maze of problems, leading to a much better understanding of the game.

If you play, or are learning backgammon, get this book and put it in the bathroom. Read it for 5 minutes a day.
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