Last updated on July 29, 2023
TD-Gammon was the first neural net backgammon software. It was created in the late 1980s, although it was never developed commercially. It was superseded by Jellyfish in 1994, which had enough useful features to become the first commercially successful backgammon program. However, Jellyfish was supplanted by Snowie in 1998, with a range of additional features and playing strengths. Snowie ruled the backgammon roost until 2009 when eXtreme Gammon (XG) was released to the market. XG represented another significant leap in terms of functionality and playing strength. As a result of the last ten years, XG has been universally considered the ultimate in backgammon programming. It is a must-have for all serious players. XG is endorsed by the US Backgammon Federation (USBGF). In this post, Deluxe Backgammon takes a look at XG Mobile Backgammon (Android) available from the Google Play store.
The short answer is no. The full-featured PC version, when run on a powerful PC such as an I7 quad-core, responds virtually instantaneously on all but the highest levels. A mobile device simply doesn’t have the processing power to compete. Therefore the mobile version is limited when compared to the PC. Also, the standard version is free and supported by ads, so expecting the full-blown package is simply not reasonable.
XG for the PC is accepted as the ultimate in commercial backgammon software. So how does XG Mobile Backgammon compare? Does it offer a comparable set of features? And is it a viable substitute for the PC version?
XG Mobile Backgammon standard (free) features:
- Currently the strongest backgammon program available on mobile platforms (Android and Apple).
- Allows play against computer opponents ranging in skill from Beginner to Expert. (Champion requires the premium version).
- Play matches up to 3 points.
- High-quality graphics (optimized for Retina displays) with a choice of multiple boards and checker designs.
- Share positions on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter etc.
- By default, there is a hint option, which will indicate via a red arrow the computer’s suggested move. You can ask the computer for a hint at any time.
- Tutor mode analyzes your moves and lets you know of any mistakes you make as you play. The computer will show the comparisons of the top five moves based on Equity. There is an option allowing you to reconsider your choice.
- Training mode also analyzes your moves as you play and lets you know of any mistake you have made. However, you cannot reconsider your choice.
- Set up a specific position and analyze.
- Extensive profile information tracking your level of play, your results and dice statistics.
- Integrated help, including complete backgammon rules.
In addition, XG Mobile Backgammon Premium (£5.99 at the time of writing) features:
- Offline 2-player mode allows you to use XG Mobile as a portable board to play against human players. No internet connection is required.
- Play unlimited sessions or matches.
- Competition mode allows you to play in live tournament conditions (no help, no pip count, etc.).
- Games can be saved and emailed for later analysis.
- Games can be started from a specified position.
- Stronger analysis and play.
There are numerous online reports of crashes and performance issues on mobile devices. Also, there were reports of occasional problems where the application was unusable without an internet connection. We reviewed XG Gammon Mobile on a Samsung Galaxy A10. It ran without any issues, we didn’t see a single crash or connection problem. It shouldn’t be an issue using XG Gammon Mobile on a current device with the latest software updates and a fully optimised O/S. If you are using an older device it might help if other apps are closed before running. It is an intensive app and will require a lot of system resources.
Update – 29th July 2023
I recently moved to a new Samsung tablet with Android 13. XG Mobile Backgammon was no longer available in Google Play and I had to download and install the free version via an APK.
There are a number of testimonials from prominent backgammon players on the XG Mobile Backgammon website praising the portability and power of the app. If it is good enough for these world-class players, it is good enough for the Deluxe Backgammon team. The standard version offers enough features for beginners and intermediates. However, for advanced and tournament players the small fee for the premium version is justified for the portability of the platform. It can’t compete with the PC version. However, if portability is required, this is the perfect solution. At Deluxe Backgammon, we use the app for all of our analysis on opening moves.