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Backgammon Redux

Ray Williamson sends us some of his unique variations of Backgammon:

Triangular backgammon.

When you have three people who want to play backgammon, there's no reason to have one of them wait for the others' game to end. (And since the game is played with dice, winning is more about creating a good game than about killing your opponent.)

A plays white, B plays black, C plays white, A plays black, B plays white, C plays black, etc.

The board is moved clockwise and rotated clockwise to present each player in turn with his new position. Everyone participates in creating an interesting game.

(see the first principle in Seven Ways to Make Almost Anything More Fun)

Virtual Backgammon is inspired by the quantum weirdness of virtual particles, which can pop in and out of existence.

Step one: Agree that the next game will be "virtual."

Set up the board in the customary way.

WHEN someone rolls doubles, IF they choose, they may instead use the entire toss to bring a pair of 25 cent pieces into play. These are entered on either home board, on the position number of the double, IF that point is available. Henceforth they may be moved alone or in combination with the other "real" pieces, singly or in pairs, in either direction (or both directions) by either player. They may also be "hit" and are then removed from play.

Weird? Oh, yes. Why do this? Well, let's say you're getting creamed and the game is no longer interesting. Or it's close, and you're feeling impish. Entering a pair of virtuals injects an element of temporary chaos and new possibility that can enliven the game.

Example: Black is getting creamed. White has only four pips left, on the 2,4, and 6 points. Black rolls a double 5 and chooses to enter a pair of virtuals on White's 5 point. White doesn't want them within shooting range, and can't knock them off, so he spends his next roll pushing them away. Black moves one of them back closer. White covers instead of removing. Black removes his own pieces. Finally white exposes a piece four points away from a virtual. Black rolls 5-1: He moves back one and forward five, hitting white. The game is now even. But it wasn't cheating because we agreed it would be a virtual game, and it was fun getting here!

Having played this many times I can tell you that 3/4 of "virtual" games never even use the quarters. But when they do, look out!

Ray's idea of "virtual" was guided by this definition. He explains:

"It was this concept that seeded the vision of "Virtual Backgammon." In an extremely short time ;~) my friend Alex Havasy and I put it into practice on the board.
- They aren't there in the first place
- They are created together in pairs
- They can be separated
- They can interact with real particles (the white or black pips)
- They often annihilate rapidly.



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