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Analyzing Your XG Matches Part 1: Improving Your Cube Decisions

Julius High showed up at an enlightening and lively zoom presentation around Analyzing Your eXtreme Gammon (XG) Match Files. Who knew? Julius serves as director of Tournament Services for the American Backgammon Tour and as co-director of Novice Workshops and Events for Backgammon for Everyone. The session explains a technique developed by Julius to categorize and quantify mistakes made in match play. It applied the technique to matches played by women in the Annie Oakley Event at the Wild West Shootout ABT tournament in Denver, October 4-9, 2023.

Backgammon. Winning. Women. sponsored the recording and transcription of matches in the event, and supplied women entrants with copies of their XG match files.

Julius’s presentation is aimed at the typical Intermediate player but containsvaluable information for players at all skill levels. By reviewing and categorizing your mistakes, you can focus your study time on your greatest weaknesses. You can create a database and review multiple errors you have made of a given type – e.g. Missing Doubles or Leaving an Anchor too soon or not soon enough. By seeing these patterns, you can be alert to avoiding them in the future.

Since the most common cause of mistakes is failure to count the race when making cube and checker plays, Julius describes a shortcut Intermediate players can use to assess whether you are ahead or behind in the race -- Counting Crossovers, many quadrants your checkers and your opponent’s checkers have to make to get all the checkers into the player’s Home Board. The player with the fewest crossovers is ahead in the race.

He also describes how to assess Cube decisions using the Position, Race, and Threats (PRAT) method. If a player is ahead in two of these three PRAT attributes, the player should Double. If ahead in all three, the player is likely Too Good to Double and should play on in the attempt to win a gammon. If an opponent has the advantage in at least one of the PRAT attributes, then the opponent should take.

While these techniques may not be as accurate as, say, counting pips, or taking match score into account in cube decisions, they can go a long way to helping Intermediate players improve their game and lower their Performance Rating (PR).

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