What is the best backgammon software?

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M ANSARI
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What is the best backgammon software?

Post by M ANSARI » Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:45 am

My mother is an avid backgammon player and I am trying to find the best software for that. I downloaded several but they seem to have very poor graphics and play very weak. Does anyone know what is the best classic backgammon software that is simple to use without bells and whistles that would make it hard for someone with limited computer skills?

Cubeman
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Re: What is the best backgammon software?

Post by Cubeman » Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:21 am

I remember the Jellyfish series was very strong and seemed like a good screen etc.

Dirt
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Re: What is the best backgammon software?

Post by Dirt » Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:20 am

I like Gnu Backgammon. You get the complete version for free, and it is claimed to be stronger than the best humans.

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George Tsavdaris
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Re: What is the best backgammon software?

Post by George Tsavdaris » Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:36 am

M ANSARI wrote:My mother is an avid backgammon player and I am trying to find the best software for that. I downloaded several but they seem to have very poor graphics and play very weak. Does anyone know what is the best classic backgammon software that is simple to use without bells and whistles that would make it hard for someone with limited computer skills?
GNUBG 0.15
Amazing piece of software! Freeware and open source.
Super strong on par with the very best humans and probably even better.
Perhaps the strongest bot, slightly better than Snowie 4 but maybe not stronger than BGBlitz though i don't think so.
It has an unlimited amount of features!!

BGBlitz 2.6.0
Incredibly strong too but not free. It's not expensive at all though. Around 46$ the best version that does rollouts.

Snowie 4.7.1
Once the strongest program but updates are rare now and it might be discontinued i guess.
Very very strong, the best available GUI, but very expensive(~360$).

JellyFish 3.5
Very strong and now you can download the 3.5 version for free....
I guess this is the best choice for you. Not any fancy stuff, just play with program some games or matches. Graphics are very good and simple.
But be sure to put ON the "BearOff Database" and play on Level 7. I put Level 7 Factor 500 to have a fast nice game....

I wonder what Backgammon programs you have downloaded that play weak as you say....
After his son's birth they've asked him:
"Is it a boy or girl?"
YES! He replied.....

chrisw

Re: What is the best backgammon software?

Post by chrisw » Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:54 am

M ANSARI wrote:My mother is an avid backgammon player and I am trying to find the best software for that. I downloaded several but they seem to have very poor graphics and play very weak. Does anyone know what is the best classic backgammon software that is simple to use without bells and whistles that would make it hard for someone with limited computer skills?
It's very unlikely that backgammon software using neural network technology is 'weak'. A simple network using a quite straightforward board representation to it, trained on 250,000 to 500,000 games that it generates 'randomly' for itself will play backgammon to almost world champion strength. The training would take perhaps two days maximum. I speak from experience because I did just this a few years ago. The strength is quite astonishing. Shame it's not possible for chess, unless Vas knows better of course ;-)

With the basic engine in place it is then not so difficult to do the doubling cube, to do some lookahead for a few plies and to do some monte carlo stuff - anything other than a completely basic engine will have those features as well, at least, althought they are basically bells and whistles (apart from doubling).

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George Tsavdaris
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Re: What is the best backgammon software?

Post by George Tsavdaris » Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:12 am

chrisw wrote:
M ANSARI wrote:My mother is an avid backgammon player and I am trying to find the best software for that. I downloaded several but they seem to have very poor graphics and play very weak. Does anyone know what is the best classic backgammon software that is simple to use without bells and whistles that would make it hard for someone with limited computer skills?
It's very unlikely that backgammon software using neural network technology is 'weak'. A simple network using a quite straightforward board representation to it, trained on 250,000 to 500,000 games that it generates 'randomly' for itself will play backgammon to almost world champion strength. The training would take perhaps two days maximum. I speak from experience because I did just this a few years ago. The strength is quite astonishing.
I had the same impression about neural-net Backgammon bots. That in todays hardware it's too easy to "train" a program with the neural network stuff and make it super strong able to beat 99.999% of humans and if you are good enough to make it a GNUBG to beat all humans.

But my experience with MonteCarlo Backgammon as also with Ariston 4.44(there is a newer 4.61 version now that i don't know if it's considerably stronger) (both based on neural net technology) that i played 2-3 years ago with them, is that they are very weak and i was giving them a crushing beat every time.

I'm speaking about 80% performances for me. For comparison i lose to JellyFish 3.5 with a 46.86% in around 1200, 7 point matches.
So perhaps it's not that easy to create a strong Backgammon bot....
After his son's birth they've asked him:
"Is it a boy or girl?"
YES! He replied.....

chrisw

Re: What is the best backgammon software?

Post by chrisw » Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:46 am

George Tsavdaris wrote:
chrisw wrote:
M ANSARI wrote:My mother is an avid backgammon player and I am trying to find the best software for that. I downloaded several but they seem to have very poor graphics and play very weak. Does anyone know what is the best classic backgammon software that is simple to use without bells and whistles that would make it hard for someone with limited computer skills?
It's very unlikely that backgammon software using neural network technology is 'weak'. A simple network using a quite straightforward board representation to it, trained on 250,000 to 500,000 games that it generates 'randomly' for itself will play backgammon to almost world champion strength. The training would take perhaps two days maximum. I speak from experience because I did just this a few years ago. The strength is quite astonishing.
I had the same impression about neural-net Backgammon bots. That in todays hardware it's too easy to "train" a program with the neural network stuff and make it super strong able to beat 99.999% of humans and if you are good enough to make it a GNUBG to beat all humans.

But my experience with MonteCarlo Backgammon as also with Ariston 4.44(there is a newer 4.61 version now that i don't know if it's considerably stronger) (both based on neural net technology) that i played 2-3 years ago with them, is that they are very weak and i was giving them a crushing beat every time.

I'm speaking about 80% performances for me. For comparison i lose to JellyFish 3.5 with a 46.86% in around 1200, 7 point matches.
So perhaps it's not that easy to create a strong Backgammon bot....
You may well be right. I didn't take my engine further than the simple version (it was only done to proof some neural net stuff I was developing and BG was a neat testbed). But I can confirm that a very crude board representation (I think I did 0 for empty, +2 for two white, -3 for three black and so on), got it playing random games - and trained it on scores 0.5 for start posn, +1.0 for a win and a greyscale grade between the two for everything in between. I recollect it took about 50,000 games and then it was playing all opening moves according to book, 250,000 games was strong, 500,000 games was very strong and beating the previous Oxford Softworks ANN backgammon. Presumably with a better board representation, more training, it would have been very strong indeed. Not trying to show-off here ;-) simply saying that any programmer, even one who is not experienced in the game, can, with known technology build a fantastically strong BG engine in a very short time (given that he already wrote the ANN). Hence any bells and whistles version available on the net really ought to be very good indeed, strengthwise.

Terry Giles

Re: What is the best backgammon software?

Post by Terry Giles » Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:16 pm

re: Backgammon software...

Actually it's JellyFish that appears to be no longer being developed.
The free version of JellyFish Player 3.5 is only available in a lite version.
JellyFish Player 3.0 is also free and is the full version.
Snowie 5 is currently in development.
Although Gnu Backgammon is still in beta form it is very stable, very strong and has a beautiful fully customizable 3D board option with animated dice.

Terry :wink:

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M ANSARI
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Re: What is the best backgammon software?

Post by M ANSARI » Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:38 pm

Thank you all for the information. I have tried Jellyfish but it has some features like the 64 dice and other things like doubling etc... that I was not able to figure out what to do with and would get stuck. I am not a backgammon player so have no clue how the game works, but I try my best to get it working for my mom. I will give the other mentioned software a shot. I would especially like something that would have a nice board ... the Jellyfish is a bit too "electronic" although it gives my mom a good game. I don't mind paying for the software if it is good and stable. Stability is extra important since I am hoping not to have to troubleshoot the game (usually by cell phone just in the middle of my golf game).

Albert Silver
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Re: What is the best backgammon software?

Post by Albert Silver » Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:41 pm

GNU Backgammon, though it is true that Snowie 4 trades blows with it. They both have strengths and weaknesses though GNU has many advantages, though nothing a beginner would care about. Either program would be a favorite in match play against the best players in the world

GNU is not in beta BTW, though there are non-stop new builds as it is permanently in development. It exists for a very wide range of operating systems too.

Other than playing, the best feature a player can get from it is the possibility to have it analyze and comment one's plays, though reading the advice can often be less than obvious, especially in matches.

There is a very complete tutorial/manual on it by yours truly.
"Tactics are the bricks and sticks that make up a game, but positional play is the architectural blueprint."

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