In 1993 the international backgammon community was presented with a unique monograph, In the Game Until the End. Its author, Robert Wachtel, set out to address the critical “stay or go” dilemmas that arise at the 11th hour of a well-timed ace-point game. In these fraught situations, the ace-point game player is often faced with a gut-wrenching choice: whether to simply run out of the opponent's home board, conceding a gammon; or wait on the 24 point, risking the loss of a triple game, for one last gammon-saving or perhaps even winning shot.
This project was an extraordinarily ambitious one, for a proper solution to those questions required the resolution of some very thorny issues of fundamental backgammon theory – and, like all explorers of his era, Wachtel had no analysis programs to rely upon. His methods, instead, were part science and part art. He rolled positions out by hand, gathered data from other experts, extrapolated, analogized and calculated.
The results he achieved were important--but surprisingly, the book's introduction received more praise than its technical achievements; for it was there that Wachtel first displayed his novelist's ability to sketch the harsh psycho-social dynamic of the gambling underworld he inhabited--a world in which the answers to problems like the ones he solved could mean a swing of thousands of dollars to their possessor.
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This 2014 work is both a revision of and a sequel to Robert Wachtel's 1993 landmark monograph on ace-point endings, In the Game Until the End . Employing the contemporary professional’s analysis program of choice, eXtreme Gammon 2 (XG2), the author vets his prior investigations--undertaken before neural network analysis programs had revolutionized backgammon--with extensive, state-of-the-art computer rollouts. With that foundation securely established, he then uses the same cutting-edge tools to extend his research to ace-point problems of increasing complexity. But this is not another of those “because the bot says so” tracts. Always probing for the principles underlying the results, the book’s later chapters are studded with puzzles, oddities and anomalies that demand-–and receive---thoughtful interpretation.
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