“Are We Really Gonna Play a 101 pt Match?” or “Why Would I Double Now and Why are You So Mad at Me?”
My Yahoo Backgammon adventures began about 6 months ago upon when remembering that I used to play as a child, I signed up for yahoo games. The next thing I did was read the rules and basic strategy that the site provided. Their explanation of how to use the doubling cube didn’t go into complicated detail, but seemed simple enough to cover the basics and some beginner strategy.
Arriving in my first lobby, I looked at the tables to join and could not figure out why everyone was playing these enormous matches to 101 pts. It seemed absolutely ludicrous! And when I sat down to play, I would very quickly find myself being harassed by other players who insisted that I double the cube immediately! I would then of course, in all newbie sincerity, reply with something along the lines of, “Why would I do that now? It is not in my best interest to double now.”, which would only infuriate my opponents more. As comical as it seems now, it’s likely that anyone who came from a traditional gammon cubing background would have experienced similar interactions to that described above.
Being relatively new to the game back then, I figured that there must be something to this gammon doubling strategy that I just didn’t fully understand. This confusion was exacerbated by the fact that 50% of the players I asked about it just didn’t want to take the time to explain, and the other 50% didn’t really understand it themselves. Some even thought that this was how you are supposed to play backgammon! Finally after annoying so many 101 players with my questions, I figured out from their grunts and groans the mystery behind these gigantic101 matches.
It seems that some very clever cheater found out long ago that if you set your games to 101 pts. rather than to the default 1 pt., and then both players max the cube out to 128 (2,4,8,16,32,64,128)....it gives the winner more points per win, and therefore, higher "yahoo" ratings (as if those will do you any good in real life). Basically it's a way to cheat the rating system...and lo and behold....monkey see monkey do....everyone started doing it.
Personally, I find it to be a self defeating system....if ratings can be artificially manipulated .....then they no longer have any meaning. Better to look at a person's recent win loss record if you're interested in a more accurate rating of their skill level.
That being said, when you are playing in the yahoo rooms you can easily avoid the fake doubling games by not joining any tables that are 101 pt. games. Play only either 1 pt. games....or if you prefer matches as I do....then look for 3, 5, or 7 pt tables. Those will be the players that play real, traditional gammon and use the cube strategically rather than automatically. If you find yourself in a 101 pt game table and you do not double like a good lemming each turn, people will get very mad at you (see above). So I have found a very happy balance by avoiding their tables and creating my own or joining a table already set by another traditional gammon player.
My Yahoo Backgammon adventure now continues, and I might add with much less frustration, no stallers or cruel people, and no more abandoned games. All this in large part due to Eliters Backgammon. We play many tournaments daily in the same yahoo rooms I had already been playing in. Our membership is varied and international, we have our own representative rating system, and most players are more polite and skilled than the average “yahoos”. And best of all, no more mindless lab rat-like pushing of that doubling button just to get a game. Cube Coming!