I have often praised Jellyfish, the best commercially available backgammon program but now is an appropriate time to remind you of this strangely named product as there have recently been further developments.

Jellyfish is based on neural net technology and first came on the market some three years ago. Until that time "Expert Backgammon", designed on more traditional lines, had been the leading program. Jellyfish consists of two elements, "Player" and "Analyser". If you just want to play a game then only the Player version is required. Analyser provides the facility to roll out positions thousands of times to gain an accurate understanding of the correct plays and doubling decisions in a given position. The program runs under Windows 95 or Windows 3.x.

The Player version plays at an advanced level and you will have to concentrate hard to have a chance of beating it. It has excellent options such as seven different playing levels. It will comment on your moves and even suggest better ones - what's more it's nearly always right! You can record your games and matches and then either print them out or replay them on the screen move by move, with comments if required. It is a superb learning tool and I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about improving his or her game.

Version 2.0 improved significantly on Version 1.0 and now comes news of Version 3.0. This new version plays an even stronger game and in particular it has improved its playing of back games and prime versus prime positions. It has an improved user interface and is much quicker than previous versions (I have had no trouble running level 7 on a 486 100 Mhz PC). Both the new Player and Analyser versions are currently in the final stages of testing and will be available in late May or early June - in fact a trial version of the Player is available now.

The good news for those who only want the Player version, is that it can be downloaded from the Internet as shareware to try out. If you then want to use it regularly, you send the vendor a nominal fee ($30) for continued usage. The Internet address for obtaining Jellyfish 3.0 is:

http://www.effect.no/jelly.html

For those without Internet access you can contact the vendors directly at:

Effect Software AS, Brugata 1, N-0186 Oslo, Norway. Tel: 0047 22 17 71 90 Fax: 0047 22 17 05 42

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