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10,000 hour rule. Zare half crossover pip count method

As some of you who know me are aware… I play backgammon and chess quite a bit. I was better at backgammon two or three years ago then I am currently. I have won a few thousand playing live and won copies of Snowie 4 at the time a 400$ program. Additionally I have won other prizes.. I reached the finals of a 128 person event and reached the final 8 of the same event 4 other times .. I flat out won many tourneys that had large amounts of players and players of high skill level. I have played some of the best players in the world. World Champions to players who were just fantastically good at the game. I had a high rating (ELO) on games grid / Gridgammon of 1975. When I practice enough there is no doubt then I can average a world class error rate(PR). I ran across this article about the 10,000 hour rule and thought it was one of the most interesting articles I read all of last year. I most likely have less than 100 hours of Chess practice put in. I do not do crosswords so Chess is my daily brain exercise. I am trying to improve and have some excellent resources to help teach me better play. ShredderChess being one of them. I have started trying to rescue my ability in Backgammon as well. If I could devote more time to Backgammon…. Let’s say 5 hours a day for practice and review I am confident enough in myself that I am sure I could be one of the top 50 to 75 players in the world. I am not trying to brag…. Just saying I know how good I was and how much time it takes to reach that type of level.

“Forty years ago, in a paper in American Scientist, Herbert Simon and William Chase drew one of the most famous conclusions in the study of expertise:

There are no instant experts in chess—certainly no instant masters or grandmasters. There appears not to be on record any case (including Bobby Fischer) where a person reached grandmaster level with less than about a decade’s intense preoccupation with the game. We would estimate, very roughly, that a master has spent perhaps 10,000 to 50,000 hours staring at chess positions…
In the years that followed, an entire field within psychology grew up devoted to elaborating on Simon and Chase’s observation—and researchers, time and again, reached the same conclusion: it takes a lot of practice to be good at complex tasks. After Simon and Chase’s paper, for example, the psychologist John Hayes looked at seventy-six famous classical composers and found that, in almost every case, those composers did not create their greatest work until they had been composing for at least ten years. (The sole exceptions: Shostakovich and Paganini, who took nine years, and Erik Satie, who took eight.)

This is the scholarly tradition I was referring to in my book “Outliers,” when I wrote about the “ten-thousand-hour rule.” No one succeeds at a high level without innate talent, I wrote: “achievement is talent plus preparation.” But the ten-thousand-hour research reminds us that “the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.” In cognitively demanding fields, there are no naturals. Nobody walks into an operating room, straight out of a surgical rotation, and does world-class neurosurgery. And second—and more crucially for the theme of Outliers—the amount of practice necessary for exceptional performance is so extensive that people who end up on top need help. They invariably have access to lucky breaks or privileges or conditions that make all those years of practice possible. As examples, I focussed on the countless hours the Beatles spent playing strip clubs in Hamburg and the privileged, early access Bill Gates and Bill Joy got to computers in the nineteen-seventies. “He has talent by the truckload,” I wrote of Joy. “But that’s not the only consideration. It never is.”


It is amazing to me to think in terms of chess grandmasters there has never been an example of anyone ever who did not put in at least 10,000 hours of practice. The article covers tennis players as well as world famous composers. I think Backgammon falls into this as well. I improved pretty quickly when I started playing but it took years
It is amazing to me to think in terms of chess grandmasters there has never been an example of anyone ever who did not put in at least 10,000 hours of practice. I improved pretty quickly when I started playing but it took years of practice and thousands of hours to reach the highest level. It took a lot of losing matches to arrive where I had gotten.

Doug Zare half crossover pip count

I used to play Doug quite often. If I am not mistaken he is a Math Prof at Princeton. This is the fastest easiest method I personally have found. It just works for me. Basically you count up half crossovers add. 75 the multiply by 3. There is an easy method for final adjustment.

“Perhaps I have gotten a bit rusty at mental arithmetic. I had difficulty computing a pip count in backgammon, which I found a bit embarrassing. It is a straightforward calculation, but the difficulty was doing it accurately with no pencil and paper while an opponent rattles the dice.

The approximate pip count is vital to correct backgammon play: “When ahead in the race, race. When behind in the race, don’t race.” Sometimes one needs more. The exact pip count is extremely useful to guide one’s doubling strategy in some situations. For example, in a race of more than 70 pips, if you are on roll a good rule of thumb is that if you lead by at least than 8% then you probably have a correct double, and if your lead is at most 12% then your opponent probably has a correct take. It arises in many other situations as well.

Since the pip count is important, there have been a wide variety of methods developed to compute it over the board. See Mark Driver’s article, “A Beginner’s Guide to Counting Pips” for one method and references to more. There is some related discussion in the Pip Counting section of the archive.

As a kid, I did well on math competitions not by brute force computation, but by a compilation of techniques. I would try to recognize the easiest method for doing a problem. Sometimes this would involve doing a different computation than normal just because it would require less memory for intermediate results.

In the following, I’ll outline a method I use for doing pip counts which requires less mental arithmetic and mental rearranging of checkers than any other I have encountered. One doesn’t even have to remember the numbers of the points! It mainly involves counting, though it also uses adding 2-digit numbers to 75 and multiplying 2-digit numbers by 3. As an added benefit, along the way one gets an approximate pip count, which usually suffices. I call this the half-crossover method.”


About dgarnold

More interests than I can count.. enjoy Foreign Policy, Current events, Books, Game theory,Sports (both watching and participating) and of course my Labradors. Love Mountain Biking! World class backgammon player.

3 responses to “10,000 hour rule. Zare half crossover pip count method

  1. I think what you posted made a ton of sense. But, think
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    • dgarnold

      Hey. Thank you for the message. My blogs software had you in the spam messages folder. I know you are right. I have been working at better titles. I never thought the blog would be popular in any way. I was very wrong. It has been popular beyond my wildest dreams. What do you suggest I do? Just curious. If this was an actual message to me I appteciate it very much. Thank you for taking the time to visit and reply to me.

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