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[Bug-gnubg] GnuBG offline

From: Peter Stewart
Subject: [Bug-gnubg] GnuBG offline
Date: Sun, 08 Feb 2004 17:55:42 +1100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.6b) Gecko/20031205 Thunderbird/0.4

I find the claim on your website that "It currently plays at about the level of a championship flight tournament player" to be unsustainable, indeed laughable.

The programme I have downloaded _cannot_ play well at all, and depends entirely for its outcomes on producing optimal dice for itself at critical points in each game.

I am not an outstanding backgammon player, but enjoy the game - in other words, a typical prospective customer for excellent software if I could only find any.

GnuBG is, without doubt, the least enjoyable of a pretty poor bunch of computer opponents I have tried.

It is quite easy to beat, losing gammons and backgammons fairly often and only able to deal effectively with a narrow range of playing styles. But more to the point, there are consistent practices written in that ruin any pleasure in the game and in fact render the software worthless in its present form.

For instance, when hitting a blot in its home board early in a game, there is an extremely high frequency of double-six dice for the opponent, or of locking out from re-entry by other statistically unlikely means.

Also, it is very common for the opponent to be trapped in GnuBG's home board behind small arrays because repeatedly unable to get a combination of high & low numbers on the dice.

But most absurd is that the programme doesn't bear off straight away when it is obviously going to lose, until what it assesses to be the last moment - and this can be _after_ a double throw would have cleared the player's board, so that GnuBG is obviously calculating the next throw in advance or taking a stupid risk of losing gammon for no reason at all..

Out of interest, I tried building a particular array in my home board, with points 2-6 made and leaving blots on points 1 and 7, then hitting a GnuBG blot.No less than _four_ times out of five the next throw for GnuBG was 1 and 6, taking out both blots. This is utterly absurd, and a programme that needs to resort to such methods is unworthy of anyone's time & effort to play with, at any level of expertise.

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