As a backgammon player you work hard to walk the walk—but can you talk the talk?
Let’s face it: backgammon terminology is a mess––but that’s probably because the game is so captivating. The competitors of old, as I imagine them, could barely be bothered to take time out from pointing on and doubling one another to invent new words, so they grabbed just a few that were lying around and used them for almost everything: think of the multiple meanings of (among others) “point,” “board,” “roll,” and “double.” Meanwhile gamblers, many of them coming from other games, were contributing their jargon: “action,” “advantage player,” “book (a bet),” “coffeehouse,” “freeroll,” “Hollywood,” “house money,” “(the) nuts,” “overlay,” “parlay,” “post,” “ringer,” “stuck (and steaming),” “take a shot,” “on tilt,” and “vig.”
And then the mathematicians took over, topping off that humble word salad with their precious statistical intricacies: “effective pip count,” “normalized error,” “search interval,” “live-cube take point,” “match-equity table,” “early-to-late ratio,” and “Janowski formula.”
This retrospective suggests that the vocabulary of game is due––perhaps overdue––for its first thorough bit of housekeeping. This volume (which grew out of a glossary to my recent memoir, The Backgammon Chronicles: A Pro’s Adventures on Tour) is my attempt to address that need. In playing lexicographer to-the-rescue, I’ve focusing upon doing justice to the three important components of backgammon vocabulary sketched above, while indulging myself by exploring more deeply, in the style of an encyclopedia, a few of the terms and concepts of the game that particularly intrigue me.