Backgammon NJ: Our detailed responses to false statements posted on the App Store

Here are our responses to some of the false claims made by users in reviews for Backgammon NJ on the App Store.

You can also read about how to prove that Backgammon NJ doesn't cheat here.


False Statement: (Note: Comments about reviewers who claim to be advanced players.)
Our Response: Some people who claim to be "advanced" or "ranked" players post false statements on the App Store. You'll find that these people have the following in common:
  1. They have not identified themselves by name. It's easy to post false reviews anonymously with no accountability. If they were truly ranked at world-class levels and could hold their own against the Expert level of Backgammon NJ, then they would be known in the top backgammon community. They wouldn't mind identifying themselves by name and posting to BGonline.org in order to prove their false accusations among their peers. If you'd like to read reviews for Backgammon NJ by actual world-class players who have identified themselves by name, click here.
  2. They have no verifiable ranking and no verifiable FIBS rating. Even if they are ranked in their local backgammon club or have beaten everyone they know in their personal circle of friends, that doesn't mean that they play at world-class levels and can hold their own against a top backgammon program. There are very few people in the world who play at such high levels.
  3. They don't know how to use other top bg programs to analyze matches or perform rollouts. If they knew how to fully use other top backgammon programs such as GNU Backgammon or Snowie, then they would export matches from Backgammon NJ and import them into other top bg programs. Doing this, they could analyze the luck factor for Backgammon NJ, see that it's honest, and also perform analyses to rate the skill level of Backgammon NJ.
  4. They don't recognize the strength of neural network bg bots. The top players in the world know the strength of neural network bg bots and use them to practice and improve their game. Only those without experience would claim that computer programs can't play better than humans.

False Statement: (Note: Comments about people who claim to play much better using manual rolls.)
Our Response: Some people claim they win more matches using manual rolls than automatic rolls. They claim they win the majority of their matches (some claim they win 70-80% of matches, some even claim they win 100% of matches) on Expert level using manual rolls. They don't realize just how ridiculous this claim is. If they could actually win so much on Expert, then they would be one of the top backgammon players in the world. They should be entering the World Backgammon Championship. Our challenge to these people: remove your cloak of anonymity, identify yourself by name, and post all of your match files for analysis. Let the true experts determine how well you really play, whether you have a significant sample size, etc.

False Statement: (Note: Comments about doubling.)
Our Response: People who claim that the AI gets "luckier" after they accept a double are showing that they don't understand doubling strategy.

On Expert level, the AI will only double when it has roughly a 65-75% chance to win and redouble when it has roughly a 70-80% chance to win. The actual algorithm for how it determines when to double is much more complex. The exact detailed mathematical explanation can be found here:

http://www.bkgm.com/articles/Janowski/cubeformulae.pdf

Until you have a better understanding of when to accept or decline a double, we suggest that you follow the advice given by the Cube Tutor in the game.

False Statement: (Note: Comments about statistics.)
Our Response: People who think that a 1, 2, 5%, or some other small percentage difference in any statistic between them and the computer is out of the ordinary have a lot to learn about statistics. If you look at a small sample size (for example, 200 rolls), stats can vary widely, possibly 50% or more from expected values. The larger the sample size, the more closely the statistics will approach expected values, but they'll never match exactly. For a closer approximation, you would likely need to look at a sample size on the order of 100,000 rolls or more. Go to Wikipedia and read about sample size and statistics.

If you're always looking for things to blame your losses on, then your gameplay won't improve. But if you do what the experts do, change how you approach the game, and work to improve your moves by lowering your Error Rate and increasing your Checker Play Skill Percentage instead of focusing on win/loss, you'll find that over time, your game will improve, and as a result, you'll win more.

False Statement: (Note: Comments about rolling doubles.)
Our Response: People who think that the game rolls too many doubles don't realize that doubles occur much more often than they think. The chance of rolling a double is 1 in every 6 rolls or 16.7% of the time. That means that if you play a game with approximately 50 rolls total for both sides, then about 9 of those rolls are expected to be doubles.

However, a single game of 50 rolls is a very small sample size. And when you look at a very small sample size, stats can vary widely from expected values. Thus, in any single game, it's very likely that you'll see more or less than the expected number of doubles. You'll need to look at a large sample size (on the order of 100,000 rolls or more over the course of many games) to get closer approximations to expected values. The larger the sample size, the more closely the stats will approach expected values, but they'll never match exactly. Go to Wikipedia and read about sample size and statistics.

Backgammon NJ tracks the number of doubles rolled by both players under Menu: Statistics: Dice. There, you can quickly see your current sample size, the percentage of doubles rolled, and how close it is to the expected value (16.7%). As your sample size increases, your percentage will more closely approximate the expected value.

Backgammon NJ also saves match files for your last 20 matches under Advanced Options: Match Files. The match files show every single move and roll for both players for every game in the match. You can send the files to yourself and view them in a text editor such as Notepad or MS Word.

False Statement: (Note: About manual dice.)
Our Response: Some people falsely state that the game doesn't include manual dice, where you roll real dice and enter the rolls into the game. This isn't true. Manual dice are included in every version of Backgammon NJ. To access this feature, scroll down in the Settings window and turn Manual Dice on.

False Statement: "The glowing reviews are paid plants."
Our Response: The good reviews are written by real users who we have no association with, some of whom are world-class players who have identified themselves by name in their review. If you really think that a world-class player who has competed at the World Backgammon Championship would jeopardize their reputation by identifying themselves by name and lying about a $5 backgammon app for money, then we have a bridge we'd like to sell you...

False Statement: "The AI looks ahead at upcoming rolls and plays accordingly."
Our Response: To prove to yourself that the AI does not look at upcoming dice rolls, follow these steps.

False Statement: "I'm an expert level player and have been playing backgammon for [insert suitably large number here] years and this app's "lucky rolls" make me want to throw my [phone/tablet] across the room."
Our Response: How long you've been playing backgammon has no bearing on how well you play. Some of the top backgammon players in the world right now are very young. If you're an expert player, then you won't mind proving the false statements you've made about our app with concrete evidence. Take the proof that we've provided (RNG Seed, printouts of dice rolls, detailed method that shows the AI isn't looking at upcoming rolls, etc.) and prove that it's not true. Post your evidence and your Backgammon NJ match files for all to see at the BGonline.org forums, frequented by many of the top players in the world, start a discussion there, and find out what the true experts think. We'll expect your post there any day now.

NOTE: We first issued this challenge on 2/11/10. To date, no one has posted to the forum. It's easy to falsely slander us with no accountability, but when asked to prove your claims in a forum of experts, you can't do it.

False Statement: "Dice stats prove cheating. The random dice favor the computer."
Our Response: First, dice statistics can be modified by using Manual Rolls and by changing the Next Roll Number and RNG Seed. Dice statistics are pretty charts, but they don't prove anything. The only way to prove your false claims is to take the detailed proof that we've provided that shows the game isn't cheating and prove that it's not true. See our previous response above for details on what you need to do.

Second, if you think that random means you're going to roll exactly the same number of doubles or other rolls as your opponent, then you have a lot to learn about statistics. The larger the sample size, the more closely the statistics will approach expected values, but they'll never match exactly. For a closer approximation, you would likely need to look at a sample size on the order of 100,000 rolls or more. Go to Wikipedia and read about sample size and statistics.

Third, if you think you're right, then surely you're not afraid to post your match files. Post your last 20 Backgammon NJ match files for all to see at the BGonline.org forums, frequented by many of the top players in the world. The match files document every single move and roll made by both you and the computer in each match. Let the real experts analyze your matches, run them through GnuBG to determine luck factor, and truly see how well you play. We're waiting for your post...

False Statement: "I've noticed that if you have "Auto Bearoff" on, sometimes it will make a mistake and move a man instead of taking one off."
Our Response: In many situations, it's correct to move a checker instead of taking one off. Backgammon NJ uses a pre-computed bearoff database, so it plays nearly perfectly in bearoff situations. You should note that there are 2 settings for Auto Bearoff: Greedy and Best Move. Greedy will always attempt to bearoff as many checkers as possible, even when doing so isn't the best move. However, since you have it set on Best Move, it will always make the best move, which sometimes means not bearing off a checker.

If you think that the computer made the wrong move during bearoff, then take a screenshot of the board and send it to us. We'll analyze it and tell you why the move it made was the best move.

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