I've never been any good at backgammon, but I've always loved the doubling cube. Short version: one player controls the cube. Before any move, they can present their opponent with this decision: either (i) double the stakes and take control of the cube or (ii) forfeit immediately.
I love it so much that I've often wondered where else the idea could be applied. Ideally, it would be a game where:
- There is a natural notion of "doubling the stakes," even if it's just counting points in a long set of games;
- The process of closing out a winning position is not too much of the pleasure, skill, or beauty of the game, because the doubling cube causes fewer of those endgames to be played out--if the ends of such games are often boring or draining, all the better;
- There's nontrivial skill in figuring out how big a player's advantage is in a situation (but not too much skill in that, lest it overwhelm the skill intrinsic to the first-order game).
A few games that seem well suited to this are:
- One-pocket pool (and given how gambling-friendly cue sports are, perhaps this has been done?).
- Certain long-term prop bets (but not sports futures, where the advantages tend to be too knowable and the endings are too much fun).
What am I missing?
By the way, there's some good historical information about the doubling cube here.