Match psychology

Let's look at psychology in matches. Every player of every game has nerves. Some through experience learn to control them, others never do. Constant exposure to competition is the best way of learning to control your nerves, you just get acclimatized to situations. In most sports the choke-threshold is obvious. In motor-racing a winner doesn't spin when being hard pressed on the last lap; the tennis player doesn't double fault at set point; the three-foot putt goes in; and the extra-point kick goes straight between the up-rights. In backgammon, it's just a bit different because of the luck factor. Sure, winners hit and losers miss but, from my experience, the winner has combined several factors. He has played correctly, thought positively and moved decisively. The power of positive thought is important in backgammon, believe me. Think negatively, and you will lose game after game. In a match you can quickly turn an opponent's negative moves to your advantage and sometimes pick up a series of points, as he will drop doubles he should be taking, only because he imagines you are always going to throw the perfect number. He becomes 'psyched out'. That's when you put the boot in and go for him. An often repeated match pattern is as follows: games swing back and forwards, nothing in it, then comes a lucky throw to win a game that was lost and boom! The judgement goes, an avalanche of points to the 'lucky' player and, barring a miracle, game, set and match.

Therefore I say, overcome your bad luck, and you'll have plenty of it, immediately. Don't look around for pity, who cares? Only the person who bought you in the auction! If you want to win, work at winning!

Bad throw

Playing the bad throw well is just as important as playing the good one well. Most of the time one part of it will be forced or obvious. For instance, you may throw a 5-2 and have only one way of playing the 5. Don't in that case look at the board, trying to work out the Situation without moving the 5. Move the 5 at once and then it will be much clearer to you what the effect of the various 2s is.

In any case, don't just stare at bad shots. You are supposed to be thinking and that applies to the single game just as much as to matches.