Problems with Playing Internet Backgammon

If you’ve read my book, A Lady Pays Her Penalties, you know that I enjoy playing backgammon on the Internet.

These days, when I play, it’s on Windows System 7. It’s a nice board, but I have a few quibbles about the changes from the old version.

A minor quibble is that the new version no longer tells you what language your opponent speaks. I used to like knowing if I was playing against someone who spoke Chinese or Russian or French. I wish they’d bring that back.

A more significant quibble is that the new version gives me a new opponent at the end of every match. Previously, I could continue playing against the same opponent for as long as we both wished. On the new version, I have to play against a new, random opponent on every match. That’s a pity. It was fun having a temporary, anonymous friend for a few matchs. It felt like we could almost understand each other.

By the way, five point matches are better than three point matches. That was an improvement. Thanks.

A far more important quibble is that the computer opponent is the stupidest backgammon player on earth. What’s with that? Don’t programmers at Windows know anything about either backgammon or artificial intelligence? A computer program that could play near world-class backgammon was developed back in the eighties. It, with the help of a few lucky rolls, beat the world champion. That was thirty years ago, folks. That Microsoft’s program plays worse than a rank novice should be an embarrassment to the boys in Redmond. Gosh, those guys sure don’t embarrass easily.

Which brings me to my biggest complaint of all. When your opponent drops out before the match is complete, you don’t get an automatic win. You have to play as many as three games against the stupid computer (only three because the stupid computer always accepts doubles, no matter how bad its position).

People drop out all the time when they’re losing. If you don’t want to spend more time playing Microsoft’s brain-dead program than real opponents, you have to take a loss, yourself.

Everyone that I know who is serious about backgammon terminates the match and takes the loss rather than wastes time rolling against the computer opponent. This makes the cumulative score useless. The better the player, the more often his opponents drop out and the more often the player takes a loss rather than playing against the stupid computer.

Hey, Microsoft, look up the word, concede, in the dictionary. When your opponent quits a game in the middle, he has conceded. In any tournament, that’s an automatic win for you. Do you think that a baseball league would force you to keep batting against a pitching machine if the other team walked out of the park? And I can assure you that batting against a pitching machine is more exciting than playing against Microsoft’s brain-dead backgammon program.

At the very least, the match should be disregarded. You should never be penalized because your opponent ran away with his tail between his legs.

And, while we’re on the topic of cowardly opponents, what’s with you guys who can’t finish a match? I’ve got a news flash for you: Not only are you automatically proclaiming yourself a lousy player, you’re not giving yourself a chance to get better. You’ll never learn to play a decent back game if you quit every time you get behind. You’d be amazed to find how often you can hit a blot when your opponent is bearing off and pull a win out of the fire.

And, by the way, figure out what the doubling cube is all about. That’s the heart of the game. Quitting because your opponent doubled you is like quitting a bridge game because your opponents bid on the contract. The doubling cube turns backgammon from a game of random chance into a game of psychology.

Instead of backgammon players being matched according to whether they are “novice”, “intermediate”, or “expert”, I wish that I could be matched according to whether my opponent was “childish”“cowardly”, or “serious”. 

Yours, Ashley


About Ashley Zacharias

I'm a post-modern woman who lives a vanilla life and dreams about kinky adventure. I write BDSM pornography but have no interest in acting out my fantasies in real life. Find my work on and
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17 Responses to Problems with Playing Internet Backgammon

  1. Bob Johnson says:

    Always enjoy seeing another post from you. Do you plan anymore of your unusual stories that are so fascinating in scope and topic?
    Writing about backgammon reminds of the time I lived on a Greek Isle. I learned to play backgammon by watching the Greeks play each other for an ouzo. I learned well enough to beat them almost at will, dice willing, of course. Since the loser had to buy the ouzo and because they had so little money, I had to learn how to lose without being too obvious. I was afraid they wouldn’t play me anymore. After a month or so, I quit playing due to the lack of real competition. Haven’t play in years since.
    Your other topic is a favorite of mine – the general incompetence of Microsoft. I’m forever railing at their buggy products and their greed (replacing op systems and off ice software every other year. I go back to Windows 1.0, which IIRC, didn’t last six months in the market place. Even their game software, as you so noted, leaves much to be desired.
    Keep twisting their tail.
    Do you think it’s time to move to Linux? I’m kind of old and lazy now and not sure I want to bother.

    • I used to work with Sun SPARCStations. Nice machines for their day but Sun wasn’t able to keep up with the competition. Pity. After that, I used Windows machines exclusively until someone showed me that I could open a terminal window on a Mac and “ls” and “grep” to my heart’s desire. Now I use Macs exclusively.

  2. haparker321 says:

    When I read the title, I kept wanting to ask myself, ‘who seriously plays backgammon?’ Now that you openly mention this, I would not be surprised.


  3. Jason says:

    @ Ashley, I concur with all your comments. Thanks so much for sharing. In addition, I have noticed that certain players apparently have the ability to “bypass” the nudge feature. When I’m winning (which is most of the time, as backgammon is a passion of mine), a player will stop playing (of course, trying to get me to leave), when I press the nudge button, it’s supposed to give them 30 seconds or boot, but with some players, they can wait as long as they want, then go whenever it pleases them. Have you run into this and is there anything I can do about it?


    • I’ve never tried the “nudge” button so I don’t know anything about it. I hate to leave a game, so what I sometimes do when someone stops playing is to switch to a different account on my computer and play new games from that account. Usually, when I get back to the first account after several hours, I find that my opponent has left the game to me.

  4. Wow. You were very nice about the new version of Internet backgammon.

    Notice how good your rolls are against the lousy computer opponent. I mention this just to prove the dice are being manipulated at that time, which means it is feasible for them to be manipulated at other times. Such as; You mentioned comebacks. It happens more often, both for you and against you, than it ever would in “life”. I think the programmers thought it would make the game more exciting, not realizing that real gammon player don’t want help nor want their opponent to be given help and don’t need the game’s excitement to be falsely enhanced.

    The big argument about the number of doubles. Programmers defend their “random” backgammon die by saying that over a million rolls, doubles happened 1 in 6 times, therefore their die results are truly random.

    Flawed logic comes from a flawed theory.

    Just because the odds of rolling a double on a single roll are 1 in 6, it does not mean that 1 out of 6 rolls will be doubles.

    Their “random” backgammon die are more accurately compared to a slot machine. A slow machine is programmed to pay off every Y out of X. Same as the backgammon die.

    On the match numbers. It would be nice to have a choice. Sometimes, I want to play a game of backgammon. Maybe I only have time for that. Your opinion is that 5 is better. Some might believe 3 is better. I just suggest maybe a choice is better.

    You are spot on about when someone quits. I win. Duh. If they made the AI play better, they could again offer a choice. “Continue against Computer Opponent” or Play a New Game” If you continue against the AI you could end up with a loss instead of the win.

    You are also spot on that it really went the wrong way with taking out the option to continue playing the same player.

    And I liked the languages feature same as you.

    Would love to see a feature where the more times you quit early, the further down the queue you are for getting into a new game. Keep quitting, keep dropping lower for a connection to a new game. That way those who quit early a lot end up playing each other.

    • Forgot to add all the times you can’t connect or get forgotten at “Looking for other players” (Note to Microsoft – They are trying to log in. Not hard to find them.)

      Unless of course you took out the languages feature because your program now looks for the player closest to me, which is the likely reason.

  5. Les says:

    Hi Ashley. I like this BDSM thought. Could we get Microsoft (R) to make the pucks smile and stick out little tongues when they take the opposition’s puck while they send it to the center line? Doing all sorts of movements, there and back to the spot where they took it????

  6. I agree with you. Microsoft likes making Beta products and tosses them out like they are actually decent, worthy, and worthwhile programs. Bzzzt! Wrong answer! Microsoft is full of itself. Choose Apple, and you’ll be happier. (A bit lighter in the wallet, but, happier…)

    If an Internet Backgammon player leaves the game, why do I have to play against an idiot computer or else my stats lose…? At least beating the computer is easy, if you don’t mind time-wasting! I’d boycott Microsoft’s Internet Backgammon, but, it seems, unfortunately, the only game in town….

    • When I retired a few years ago, I bought an Apple desktop and laptop for myself and haven’t used a Windows machine since. Mostly I went for Apple because I was sick and tired of fighting viruses all the time. I was spending days every few weeks trying to get viruses out of my various computers. But also, I liked that Apple was basically Unix. Windows is a completely opaque operating system. When something goes wrong (and it always goes wrong with Windows) you can’t fix it. I won’t buy another Windows machine until they make it virus resistant. Which they could do if they cared about their users at all:

  7. Jose Grillo says:

    I agree Ashley, if you want a nice computer match, play in Ubuntu, Thanks for share your opinions..

  8. Troy says:

    Hi. I actually did a google search for “better backgammon than Microsoft” and got your site, so I
    ‘ll leave a few more comments on the trail. Firstly the dice are rigged, it pisses me off. Half way through a nice game and obscenely improbable rolls come one after the other. Furthermore, the human element. There is someone jigging with it in the background you can be sure. It just f***s up what would be a great game. you cant say to your opponent its gonna be a “five and one” because of the crap chat. You cant say go back a grade. Because of this crap, people leave. Everyone must do it. Now how likely is it that there is always another player coming on to play at exactly the same time as you? but it always happens. No, its the servers alter ego half the time. You know you can try to chat and then it leaves, and then next one comes on and overcompensates. I just wish there was a better pvp backgammon I could get onto. I tried BKGM but never got their email. After playing Microsoft backgammon with its rigged rolls it just messes up how does backgammon play out when it is truly random. Cant say enough about how peeved I am with Microsoft, and how they have taken a perfectly good opportunity to do something really great, and stuffed up on so many levels.

  9. Jack Reed says:

    The rigged dice. When a player needs a particular number to hit or come off the bar, they too often get doubles of that number. The odds of this happening are 1 in 36. But I’ve kept a log and the odds in Microsoft’s programming are close to 1 in 12. So, what I assume is happening is that half the time the program gives one die the number needed, then randomly rolls the other die changing the odds 3 fold. The most obvious evidence of rigged dice is the fact that opening rolls never get ties more than once. This is clearly impossible. So why rig the dice? To speed up the game and add what Microsoft programmers think is excitement. They don’t want players to roll ties over and over to start a game, nor have endless re-entry failure when coming off the bar. But why give the number needed for a hit?. The excitement factor.

  10. Gabbar Singh says:

    Lordy lordy… Do people REALLY still play backgammon?! And run Window$?!! The only game ever worth playing was Nethack. The Leprechaun strikes!

  11. justin frampton says:

    everytime i play backgammon my opponent drops out and i am sick of it . PLEASE PLAY TO THE END OF THE MATCH!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Christopher M Freitag says:

    Internet backgammon is a joke. It’s completely rigged. No, not every player has a win % of between 48 and 51%. Of course, the reason is simple. If online dice were truly random, the stronger players would keep playing and the weaker players would get tired of losing, which = less $ for the site. Yet, I see world class brick and mortar players claiming that online dice are fair and random. No f’ing way! I’ve been playing this game for 30 years and never seen so many jokers as online. I also proved to myself that the computer programs cheat. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me. Fortunately, Jellyfish has a manual dice option. When I set jellyfish to the highest level on “computer dice”, I performed dismally (30% win rate). Of course, jellyfish got many jokers. When I set it to manual dice and rolled out many games (with dice cups), my win rate jumped to 68%. Hmm, jellyfish didn’t get all those jokers with real dice! Online backgammon is rigged, don’t let anyone tell you differently

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