MacFIBS Home Page

Frequent Questions

What's the difference between "MacFIBS" and "FIBS"?

    MacFIBS is a Macintosh application to play backgammon across the Internet against other players. It is software that you install and run on your Macintosh, that provides the graphical look and feel of playing backgammon.

    FIBS is the server which manages all the players and matches. It is software that runs on a Unix computer located in California.

    As the author of MacFIBS, I have no involvement with the FIBS server software. For questions or problems that concern the server, you should contact the Andreas Schneider, the author of FIBS.

Is there a version of MacFIBS for 68K Macintosh computers?

    The last version of MacFIBS that runs on 68K Macs is MacFIBS 3.0 r6.

    Download MacFIBS 3 r6 for 68K (1.2 MB)

    Because MacFIBS 4 uses a number of new Mac OS features, (including Navigation services, drag & drop, Appearance manager, Apple Help, and Contextual menus) most of which are only available on PowerPC systems, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain backwards compatibility with older Macintoshes.

Can both my spouse and I use MacFIBS from our Mac?

    Yes you can. MacFIBS doesn't support multiple users directly, but there are three methods that you can use if more than one person in your household wants to play on FIBS, with different user names and passwords.

    The Simple Method

    Just enter a different user name and password in the Connect dialog. Both you and your spouse will share the same preference settings, as well as notes, color coding, etc. of other players. The last person's user name and password will be stored in the MacFIBS preference file.

    The Separate Preferences Method

    You can create separate MacFIBS preferences files, and swap them in or out as needed. This way you won't have to enter your user name and password, and you will maintain all your own preference settings, player notes, etc. The drawback to the method is that you must manage moving preference files in and out of the System > Preferences folder. If you (or someone you know) are familiar with AppleScript, this could be automated with an AppleScript.

    The Mac OS 9 Method

      NOTE: I have never tested this, nor heard from any users about this, but it "should" work...

    Use the new multiple users feature under Mac OS 9. This should provide each user separate preference files not only for MacFIBS, but for all other applications as well. Refer to the Mac OS 9 user documentation for more information about how to configure this feature.

I can't log into FIBS! What am I doing wrong?

    You wouldn't believe how many email messages I get that contain no more information than this! Here's the entire, actual text of a recent email:

    >>I'm having trouble getting my computer getting
    >>connected to FIBS. any suggestions/help would be great.

    Another one:

    >>Every time I start the mac software, I get a System error
    >>and freeze. I'm running an LC580 (68040). Any suggestions?

    and another:

    >>I cannot get MacFIBs to start. I need Help?

    Do you start to see a pattern here? Before I can help you, I need much more information about your situation!

    It's difficult to provide a single list that covers all situations, but here are some of the questions I pose to users to try to help them. You should look at this list and provide the appropriate information in your first message, because it will (a) help resolve your problem more quickly, and (b) not irritate me.

  1. What version of MacFIBS are you using?
  2. Have you been playing on FIBS, and has it just stopped working, or have you never played before?
  3. Have you checked on to see whether the server may be down?
  4. Have you used MacFIBS successfully before, or is it brand new to your system?
  5. Are you an experienced Internet surfer, or new to all this stuff?
  6. Are you sure you have the necessary software, hardware, and settings to connect to the Internet?
  7. Can you successfully use other Internet software like Netscape or Eudora?
  8. Have you changed anything recently (hardware, software) that might relate to the problem?
  9. How far did you get before you started having trouble?
  10. What was on the terminal just before you ran into problems?
  11. What TCP, PPP, System software are you running?
  12. Have you tried deleting the MacFIBS Preferences file?
  13. Have you read the MacFIBS User Guide?
  14. Have you read through this FAQ?

    This is not an exhaustive list. The point I'm trying to make is that I'm willing to help you resolve a problem, but I'm not psychic. The more information you provide me, the easier it will be to help you.

What are the Thorp count and Kleinman metric?

    The middle section of the board window displays game and match statistics, including the match score, pip count, Thorp count, and Kleinman ratio.

    Thorp Count

    The Thorp count is based on the pip count, adjusted for the distribution of checkers. Thorp counts are most useful during the endgame (all checkers for both players are on their respective home sides).

    The Thorp metric was described in THE MATHEMATICS OF GAMBLING, by Dr. Edward O. Thorp, otherwise famous for his book BEAT THE DEALER. It was popularized by Bill Robertie in ADVANCED BACKGAMMON, VOL. 2, pp. 189-195.

    Thorp counts are calculated by following these steps for each player:

    1. Start with the pip count.
    2. Add 2 for each checker still on the board.
    3. Add 1 for each checker on the 1 point.
    4. Subtract 1 for each occupied home board point.
    5. If the player on roll's count is greater than 30, add 10% to total of 1-4.

    You have an initial double if the Thorp difference is greater than or equal -2. You have a redouble if the difference is greater than or equal -1. You opponent has a take if the difference is less than or equal 2.

    The Thorp count was originally intended for money play, and is designed to factor stacking and gapping into bearoff (or near-bearoff) races so that apparent pip count advantages aren't misevaluated.

    For example, a straight pip count of this example:

    yields Red:22 and Blue:23, which would suggest that Blue (on roll) has a clear double, and Red a questionable take. The extreme stacking should tell us that this is not a double (and a trivial take), and the Thorp count (Red:32, Blue:38.5) confirms this.






Pip count



Add 2 for each checker still on board



Add 1 for each checker on 1 point



Subtract 1 for each occupied point



On roll, add 10%



Thorp count

    Chuck Bower's article describes how to use the Thorp count to calculate cubeless game winning chances.

    Kleinman Ratio

    The Kleinman ratio is a single number that you can use to assess the relative strength of your position. This metric has been in MacFIBS since version 1.0.

    The Kleinman ratio, K, is calculated by the formula:

    K = (p2 - p1) / (sqrt(p1 + p2))

    where p1 = your pip count and p2 = opponent's pip count. In plain English, K is the difference in pip count divided by the square root of the sum of the pip counts. It can be used to assess your position in races and bearing off situations.

    This metric was defined by Danny Kleinman, author of numerous books on backgammon that emphasize mathematical analysis. For more information, you can contact him at 5312 1/2 Village Green, Los Angeles, CA 90016.

How can I create a custom board for MacFIBS?

    I have created a web page that describes in detail how to create your own MacFIBS board file.

Can I play backgammon against a computer with MacFIBS?

    MacFIBS is not designed as a game that pits human against computer; it is for playing against other people, using one of several backgammon servers on the Internet to manage the match.

    That said, there are several players out there who are "non-human" opponents; these players--known as "gammonbots"--are actually software running on other computers connected to the Internet.

    Part of the fun on FIBS is discovering who these silicon sharks are, and playing matches with them. Some gammonbots play at a world class level!

How do I resolve conflicts with other FIBS players?

    I recommend pistols at twenty paces.

    Seriously, I cannot help you resolve differences with other FIBS players. Just as in real life, there are plenty of jerks on the Internet, and you are bound to run into some on FIBS. Some jerks will leave a game just before losing and refuse to finish the match. Other jerks send obscene or abusive messages.

    I regularly receive mails from upset MacFIBS users asking me to resolve a dispute; there is nothing I can do administratively to help since I have no role or access to the server and its user database. However, there are some features of MacFIBS that help deal with problem players.

    Players who leave a match to avoid losing (known as "droppers") can be particularly frustrating, but there's little that can be done about it. Just don't play with a dropper again. You may want to use the MacFIBS player notes feature to keep track of these.

    You can suppress messages from abusive players by checking "Gag" in that player's info window. The "Blind" command prevents a player from watching your matches.

I forgot my FIBS password, how can I get it back?

    First, please understand that I have no role or responsibility over the server software; MacFIBS is only a pretty graphical interface to FIBS. I did not create FIBS (the server), and I do not have any control over it. This separation between FIBS and MacFIBS is frequently confusing to MacFIBS users, and I hope that you understand the distinction.

    Secondly, you should understand that neither I nor anyone else can look up a password if you have forgotten it. Passwords are only stored in an encrypted form on the FIBS server, and it is impossible to decrypt them. That's the point of encrypting them in the first place--to prevent problems with unscrupulous hackers.

    If you have not deleted your MacFIBS Preferences file, I may be able to retrieve your password from it, because the password is stored in a non-encrypted form on your Mac so you don't have to always enter your password.

Why does MacFIBS shout "fergy!" when fergy logs in?

    Earlier versions of MacFIBS had a feature where it will play a sound when a particular player logs in. To demostrate this, I included a sound for myself that would play on every MacFIBS user's computer when I logged in.

    I removed this "feature" in MacFIBS 4, because it was difficult for me to log in without being accosted by MacFIBS users, many of whom didn't know why their computer made this noise.

    You can add sounds that play when a specific player logs in. You need to be familiar with a resource editing tool like ResEdit to copy 'snd ' resources into the MacFIBS Preferences file. Just name the 'snd ' resource the same name as the player you want to associate the sound with, and whenever that player logs in, the sound will play.

    Tom Hauk (MuffinHead on FIBS) maintains The MacFIBS Sound Page, with a collection of sounds contributed by FIBS players.

Do you give out the source code to MacFIBS?

    No, I don't. Sorry.

    There are many reasons why I don't give out the source code, although I have released selected libraries from MacFIBS that are of general utility, including AGenda, a PowerPlant class library for adding Apple Guide support to an application.

Can I bundle MacFIBS on my CD or book?

    MacFIBS is copyright and licensed through the author, Paul Ferguson (that's me). To include it with your disk or book as an unregistered shareware program, you must comply with the following:

    * Send me a copy of the disk or CD and materials distributed with the program. Contact me by email to obtain the mailing address.

    * Include the package unmodified in its entirety. You may choose to include the archive or to decode the archive into its component files (in their original folder). You should endeavour to use the latest version at all times. The latest version is available from the MacFIBS web site

    * You must include the statement "Some programs on this disk are shareware, which means if you keep them and use them for more than a few weeks then you must pay for them." or words to that effect with the distributed documentation and disk. You must make it clear to the users that they have not yet purchased MacFIBS.

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Copyright 2001 Paul D. Ferguson

Last modified: Fri, Oct 27, 2000