A different place. But not.

We were living south of where we are now, and my office was upstairs. I was puttering around, surfing through the morning on a Tuesday, working on my second cup of coffee, but still not fully present. B. called up to me from downstairs, watching morning news programming and doing her own wake-up routine, to tell me a plane had flown into a building in New York.

I remember calling back to her with the profound comment of, “What?!”

In my head, some dumbass in a Cessna had probably decided to make his personal sendoff a look-at-me, aren’t-I-special Viking funeral. It turned out I was 2/3rds right, or a fractional version of that if you want to nitpick the Viking part.…

Continue Reading →

Two Years

I’m approaching the close of two years since teaching myself to play backgammon.

I took up the game on May 1, 2019, ahead of a June ’19 working birthday-vacation, and then decided to get a little more serious about really playing, and opened this blog, that following September.

Along the way, I’ve collected a library of books, more boards than my wife, B., would prefer (including a new pride-and-joy, a custom Gammoner board, early this year), some cool toys (I’m looking at you, Save The Gammon), joined a local league, played a former World Champion and Giant of the game, and took my DailyGammon game from a FIBS 1,200 to a FIBS 1,745 (though I’ve fallen off somewhat, lately, during a recent bout of massive work-distraction).…

Continue Reading →

End of Year Re-Crap

Howdy, folks, remember me? My last post was in January. Anything interesting happen in the interim? Yeah.

After making my last post in mid-January, I was prepping for a large production (typically, my largest of the year), scheduled to take place in Santa Clara, CA, in April.

Late February/early March found site visits and preparations proceeding apace. That is, until March 6, when the first Covid-related death was reported in Santa Clara County. (It’s since been learned there were two prior deaths, but at the time March 6 was considered “the beginning” for Silicon Valley.)

Thus began a huge, massive— and I’ve come to hate this word— pivot.…

Continue Reading →

Magriel Mega Match Madness Series

This might seem crazy at first. And also, later.

I’ve been casting about for another weapon to add to my “gain experience and get better, faster” arsenal— I study, read, play in both live and online tournaments, Dallas Backgammon League play, timed and un-timed matches of various lengths, play XG and BGBlitz, analyze my games, etc.— but one piece that’s missing, in large part, is playing myself.


Playing yourself in a mind sport is a great way to learn and improve, particularly if you approach the process in a serious and thoughtful way.

Paul Magriel famously took on the player-moniker “X-22” after playing himself, on each side of the board, in a 26-player tournament, where the players were named “X-1” through “X-26.”…

Continue Reading →

That Never Happens

Technically perfect. That’s a first.

I just played my first-ever technically perfect game using my BGBlitz analytical trainer, an event so out of the scope of the norm for me, it’s rather like planting flowers in my back yard and discovering a T-Rex fossil.

Obviously, I’m using up all of my good, smart, thoughtful play ahead of tonight’s kick-off of the Dallas Backgammon League‘s 2020 tournament season, and will play like utter trash this evening.

In other words, a mean reversion. In multiple senses of the term.

Continue Reading →

This is the End (of 2019)

Champagne and a game, anyone?

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted my last backgammon update (“bupdate”?), and seeing-off 2019 is the perfect excuse to crank one out. I’ve been busy, just as I’m sure most of you have, with the Holidays and the usual closing-out-the-year madness, but haven’t neglected the game. Because, priorities.

I think I’ll lead by stealing a super-lazy idea from the press: the end-of-the-year recap:

On January 1, I will have been:

  • Playing backgammon for eight months
  • Playing Daily Gammon for seven-and-a-half months
  • Been serious about learning for five months
  • Been playing with a doubling cube for four months
  • Been playing live tournaments with a League for two months

Today, as of this writing, I have a synchronistic 2002 games under my belt on Daily Gammon and my stats look like this:

231 days of gameplay.

Continue Reading →

Punk Rock Backgammon

Had a pretty good game-week this week, with lots of little things adding up to plenty of fun and adventure (as far as backgammon goes).

On Tuesday, my baffle box arrived in the mail and I immediately unboxed it and gave it a whirl. It’s the box that’s sold by Phil Simborg, but it didn’t fit my board as intended. It has adjustable spacers on the bottom which allow it to expand or contract to the depth of the dice tray it’s sitting atop, but the width of my tray, on my board, didn’t accommodate the notch width of the box.…

Continue Reading →

Monte Carlo Dreaming

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Monte Carlo— I was spending time “down the road” in Cannes, attending an industry awards festival, and decided to take a day exploring by car, driving up the coast through Nice, Monte Carlo and, briefly, crossing the Italian border. It was wonderful.

Doing my part to keep Monte Carlo family-friendly.

There’s truly no other place like it; it’s unique in the world.

I want to eventually go back and play in the Backgammon World Championship, not because I feel I can win it, but for the experience of it.

Here’s what the Championship looked like in 1985.…

Continue Reading →

Rolling the Dice in Paradise

I’m starting a new blog-entry category: Articles and Press.

I’ve found a few articles, here and there— and mainly of the older sort, that I’ve occasionally posted to my Facebook, and thought I would also begin keeping them here, on Mack Gammon, as well.

I’ll give a little snippet of interest for each, but the main concern is for your ability to click through to the article itself (which will typically be much, much longer), because I don’t simply want to repost another publication’s work.

We’ll begin with this one:

Rolling the Dice in Paradise
High-stakes backgammon players flock to Monte Carlo to pit themselves against the competition and soak in the opulence
By Michael Kaplan, From Cigar Aficionado, Tom Selleck, Nov/Dec 2007


“In poker it’s the riffling of chips.…

Continue Reading →