Paul's Backgammon Vaults
400+ matches on the web with BG Replay
BG Replay is now available for download
Click here to download BG Replay
V1.2.2 (.zip file, 580K) - now with .mat file support.
Existing users - download this version for
latest features. See the changelog for details of updates
from previous versions.
download doesn't start, try right-clicking on the link and choosing 'Save
When the file has downloaded, unzip it to an empty folder and open
This is an early-release version with notes on how to run your own game files
and develop your own pages, plus templates and sample scripts to get you
A full development kit with authoring page and full scripting language
reference will be available later this year.
What is BG
It's a fancy name I've thought up for a set of program functions that can
read saved backgammon files and play them back in an animated web
page, complete with commentary text and move/cube analyses. Instead of having to show a separate screenshot for each
position, the page shows a single backgammon board with the pieces moving
Who is it
People who run websites, and want to publish backgammon games and tutorials
on their web pages.
Are the web
Yes. The user can play each move individually, skip between plays, jump
directly to plays and use autoplay mode to run a game automatically.
What do my
site visitors need in order to view these pages?
Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Opera, or any other browser that supports the full Document Object Model.
What do I
need to run these pages from my web host?
Just some web space. Free space provided by ISPs is fine, although if your
server supports the PHP programming language (most paid-for servers do,
including Windows ones) you can use the PHP versions of the pages, which
make organising your site much easier (see below for more details).
So does it
mean that I don't need to author each game's web page individually?
Exactly. Create your standard game page once, then feed as many different
games as you like through it.
Can I use the
program code with my
own graphics and web page design?
Absolutely. The system is designed to be 'skinnable', so you can use your
own board and piece graphics (any size), and your own page design and
styles. The bPod and Desktop designs shown above are just two examples of
what can be done. I'd be happy to quote for custom page design work,
although it would cost, as I do this for a living.
What types of
backgammon files can it read?
.gam (Jellyfish), multi-game .mat (match files) and BGU Backgammon's
text export formats (see the self-drive version for more details).
Other formats on request, although I don't fancy tackling GNU's .sgf
format much. The system also has its own script file format (see below),
and can read and generate its own dialect of XML.
Does it handle
Yes. You can create .bgm files (essentially
lists of game files). The PHP versions of the pages treat the game files
listed in the .bgm as a match, automatically generating a menu page and
letting the user step between games by pressing the << and >>
buttons (see the 'Tom vs Jerry' match in the sample pages).
Version 1.0.2 and later of the PHP pages also suport Jellyfish
.mat files - just feed them in and the page creates the menu page
Do I need to edit the game files to make them
playable in BG Replay?
system will play them back exactly as saved by the backgammon program. GNU
files must be saved (or renamed) with a .bgt name extension (e.g.
"Game1.bgt"), but they're exactly the same as .txt ones (the .bgt files in
the Tom vs Jerry match are unmodified GNU exports). The system
automatically picks up player names and match scores from GNU export
I like the traditional,
picture-per-move page design. And what about printing?
It does the traditional layout too, from the same game files (see image,
right). These pages adjust their colours automatically for printing. Press
the 'printer version' button in the desktop page (or
click here) to see
How do I get
commentary text and move/cube analyses in my game files?
Create them in GNU, and they're imported automatically from GNU text export
files (TIP - GNU will export an entire match as a set of individual game
files, just right for this purpose). Candidate moves in analysis tables are
converted into demonstration links (try one
in the sample pages). Commentary text is displayed as comments. An authoring version of the BG
Replay desktop page will be available soon (I've just got to make it look
presentable), which will allow you to add comments and other items to an
How did you
do that Rules of Backgammon tutorial?
The script was written in BG Replay's own scripting language. This lets you
set up positions (using GNU ID strings) then control the dice, cube, pieces
and other display items directly. You can mix 'regular' game plays and
tutorial sequences in a single script. All game files are converted to
internal script format before running; try putting a .gam or GNU file
through the self-drive version (above) and you can see the generated script
at the bottom of the page.
Why isn't the
script language based on XML?
Mainly because it's tricky to include HTML code in XML files, and you need
to do that in order to format the text in comments. The system does support
an XML dialect though (see the Self-Drive page for an example), so you can
write scripts in XML if you want to.
Why do your
sample pages use PHP?
The PHP pages used on this site save effort by allowing a single copy of
each page to read any game script. PHP pages also handle .bgm match files
automatically. If your web server doesn't support the PHP server-side programming language, you can embed your game files in
'static' versions of the pages instead. These pages can be run from any web
server (e.g. AOL members' webspace) or directly from your PC's hard disk,
CD-ROM etc. Click
here for an example (opens in a separate window).
Is BG Replay free?
For non-commercial use, yes. BG Replay and the bPod and desktop page designs
are copyright software, but are free for use on non-commercial websites.
If you want to use it on a commercial website, or distribute it with a
commercial package, please contact me at
worry, I'm not looking to make a fortune, just to get a few quid back for
the time I've spent on it!).
How do I get it?
From the link at the top of this page!
Backgammon is a
tightly-knit world and I've never heard of you. Who are you?
My name's Paul Stephens and I'm not a very good backgammon player. I am,
however, keen to learn, which is why I was trawling the web for backgammon
tutorials (it's OK, I've bought a second-hand copy of Paul Magriel's book
now), and discovering that none of them were animated. I decided to spend
just a couple of hours seeing how hard it would be to animate a board in
Was it really worth all
that effort to design an animated backgammon page?
Of course not, but it was fun to do (I like programming) and I do think it
adds something to the way backgammon can be presented on the web. My last
channel, so I'm definitely heading upmarket with this one.
Who are the mysterious
'players from the top 200 on FIBS' in your sample game?
Unfortunately I can't remember! I downloaded the .gam script from a website
and thought it was such a good example that I wrote the sample commentary
round it. I forgot to bookmark the site though, and since then I've searched
the web and can't find where I go it from! If it's yours, please contact me
(see below) and I'll credit you, or remove it if you object to it being
...and now a question
What do you think?
I'd be really grateful for any feedback on the system. Do you think it's a
good idea (i.e. does it make the games and tutorials more interesting or
accessible?). What do you think of the user interface? How well does it
perform on your system (I know the graphics are very slow in Opera, but
perhaps they'll improve the graphics engine!). Please send your comments
(including "you must be mad to have spent all that time writing an animated
backgammon board") to .