Boot Camp is very good, but I felt a need to see more positions to illustrate some of what I was learning and was having trouble creating my own positions. This lead to Robertie’s 501 Essential Backgammon Problems, which I found myself reading more than Boot Camp recently. Maybe it is my learning style, or where I am at in my backgammon education, but I feel like I am getting more out of 501 than Boot Camp at the moment. I am not abandoning Boot Camp but I am going to add some things from 501 as I go along here, because the real purpose of this blog is to learn backgammon.
501 was written in the early days of bots, and whether it was the rollout setting or the power of the bot at the time or just Robertie not believing the bot there are some problems in 501 where the solutions are incorrect. But, most of these are going to be small errors for someone playing at the level of those of us interested in this blog, and there is always the bot double check.
From some of the discussion on the bgonline.org forum there has evidently been a project to roll out all of the positions in 501, but it is – as far as I can tell—not published. I would guess this is because publishing all of the positions in the book would likely be considered a copyright infringement as this is the majority of the content.
Another criticism I have seen of 501 is that not all candidate rolls are discussed and that sometimes the alternative candidates that are discussed are not the second best alternative. I am guessing that part of the reason for limiting the discussion is to keep the book relatively brief. I also think that often the alternatives that are discussed are those that a lower level player might jump to, so for the level of audience the book is intended it makes sense to discuss them.
I am skipping the chapter on the opening rolls for now, as I am going to be studying several other sources regarding the opening. Perhaps a more systematic approach where I study each aspect of the game in turn would be a better approach, but I am finding that may play is improving considerably by picking up more knowledge about aspect of the game as I can.