Truth-Gammon

Truth-gammon (or maybe T-gammon) is a game I just thought of while playing backgammon with a co-worker. I call it Truth-gammon because I think it truly exposes the strengths and weaknesses of backgammon players. Here’s how you play:

How to play T-Gammon

  1. Obtain and set up two backgammon boards. We’ll refer to one board as “Master” and the other as “Slave”. Set them up identically so that if white is going clockwise on the Master, it goes clockwise on Slave as well.
  2. Now, let’s say we have two players, Red and White. Each rolls one die on the Master board to determine who goes first. (We have labelled the board “Master” because that’s where all the rolls are going to happen.)
  3. Whoever rolls the highest die uses both dice (just like in a normal game) to move their pieces on the Master board. Let’s say Red rolls a 6 and White rolls a 1. Red gets to move first using 6 and 1 on the Master board.
  4. Here’s the interesting part: As Red is moving 6 and 1 on the Master board, White uses that roll (6 and 1) to move his white pieces on the Slave board.
  5. Now it’s White’s turn to be master. He rolls both his dice on the Master board and moves his white pieces on the Master board. Red is now slave and moves using White’s roll to move his red pieces on the Slave board.
  6. The game continues this way, with rolls on the master board, and moves by opposite players on the opposite boards, until both games are complete. The doubling cube should be used and gammons and backgammons should be counted appropriately. At the end of the game, you take the difference of both scores to find the “true” winner. That is, the winner who used the rolls and doubling cube most effectively throughout the game.

At the beginning of a T-gammon match, you’ll notice that the Master and Slave games are exactly the same. However, it only takes one small difference in the way players use their rolls to have the games branch off completely. For example, one player may be more conservative, and always try to protect himself, while another player may try to attack. Play a game, you’ll see how quickly the boards diverge.

A couple things to note: The doubling cube can only happen at the time it would in a normal game. This means if you want to double on the Master board, you do it before you roll the dice. If you want to double on the Slave board, you do it before your opponent rolls the dice. Lastly, if the Master board ends first, you can switch the rollers so that it’s easier to finish the Slave board. I.e. You roll for your turn, until the game is finished.

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