Backgammon Brains Can Power Football Teams!

If you ever hear someone say that backgammon is a game for bores, point them to this post!  Backgammon may be boring to some people but that may be because they do not have the aptitude to understand the underlying complexities of the game – the very same inner workings that make backgammon an exciting game.  More than the excitement, though, backgammon is backed up by logic and reason.  And this is what makes it a game of intelligence.

Now before you go ahead and say that just because something is “intelligent” does not mean it can be used for practical (and more fun, perhaps) applications, read this little snippet:

We know this because we created a computer program, Zeus, that assesses play-calling decisions of N.F.L. coaches, using the same modeling techniques that have revolutionized backgammon and chess. It’s no different than I.B.M.’s supercomputer beating a skeptical Garry Kasparov in 1997.

Built through research into game logs, statistics and the behavioral traits of coaches, Zeus accurately replicates a modern N.F.L. game.

In simple words, the logic that is the backbone of backgammon can be used for football!  The tests that they ran using Zeus yielded impressive results.  As a matter of fact, the researchers were proud of the figures they got:

The Zeus Coach’s Ranking assesses every critical call faced by all 32 N.F.L. teams in 2008. In each case, Zeus determined the best choice and compared those results to the actual play. Where differences occurred, those errors are tabulated in G.W.C. units. For instance, a 6 percent G.W.C. error indicates that the coach’s actual choice would, on average, cost the team 6 victories of each 100 games played. Or, more telling, a single 6 percent error during each game of a season should cost a team about one game, no small number.

So, the next time you hear someone belittle this game of ours (backgammon, not football), tell them about Zeus and how he harnesses the power of backgammon.

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