Recording live matches: how to?

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    What are the best ways to record a live backgammon match? Here are some methods that I know about:

    1. filming the match using a webcam, smartphone, or videocamera
    2. writing down the moves on paper
    3. inputting the moves on a computer or a tablet
    4. playing directly on a computer

    Feel free to complete. Each method has its advantages and drawbacks. What are your experiences? What are best practices for each of the methods?

    In the past, I’ve experimented with writing down the moves on paper as I play (method 2). The biggest drawback to me is that after the match, one still has to type in the match on the computer. In my opinion, this is also the biggest drawback of filming the match (method 1). I just don’t have (want to make) the time for this.

    On our club evening last Friday, I’ve used the BGNJ app on iPad to ‘tap’ in the moves for four 5-point matches (method 3 above). We played with clock (Bronstein, 8 minutes + 12 seconds/move) and I was able to complete all four matches, even when in moderate time pressure.

    To record matches, I prefer the BGNJ app over the XG app because, in match record mode, the BGNJ permits to take back rolls and moves, which is convenient, as one easily makes a mistake.


    Easy : filming the match and afterwards transcribing it into XG is best.

    I tried writing down the moves while playing, but found this detrimental to my game. It uses up valuable seconds and distracts from the game itself.

    Thing is : transcribing into XG is not just a time-consuming chore, but a first review of the match. I do not just mechanically enter the moves into the computer, but mentally re-play the match. When I arrive at a position which caused me concern, I pause the video and rethink the position at leasure before checking what XG would do. That way I can find out whether a mistake was made because I did not sufficiently think it through or because I simply lacked the tools to find the right play. Then, when the match is completely transcribed, I move through it again, mostly move by move.

    Not wanting to make time for this is a short-sighted approach. I see the transcription process as an essential part of studying the game. Luc Palmans even goes further in this by noting down during live play how much time he spends on a crucial decision. Replaying the video can show whether you snatched the cube without thinking or whether you thought for 2 minutes … and still got it wrong. As you transcribe from the video, you also get an idea of how your time management was. I always make sure the clock is visible on the video. All this information is not available if you transcribe live.

    In short, filming your matches and transcribing them at home is not just a way to obtain a record of your matches and be able to see where you went wrong. It is above all an invaluable learning tool which will certainly improve your live performance.


    Maurits Pino

    Further to Johan’s post and Michel’s comments:

    I’ve tried writing down while playing but it’s not been a success.
    However, Paul does this very effectively and I will try again.
    Johan’s argument that you still have to get XG and put the match in is not entirely correct. If you open an xg file, you see that their structure is very simple. By taking note in the same format, you can cut down your working time considerably.
    However, and here I get to Michel’s point, that working time isn’t lost in any case. By looking at a match and feeding it into XG you relive a match and you learn from it at the spot.

    I haven’t tried playing an adversary on my i-pad (which is perhaps better than playing facing a PC or laptop) and that may be very efficient in terms of playing and recording but there is an even nicer solution: some five years ago, a Russian guy (I believe) Jakob Garal offered to sell on gammonU or on Stick’s forum a so called sensor board that looks like a normal board but that registers your moves. It was crazy expensive but five years of progress may make all the difference (compare XG with Snowy in price and quality).
    (sensor board is nr 5 on Johan’s list!)


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