In "The Technology Behind Backgammon" at WhatPC?, Paul Wardley of Personal Computer World discusses the emergence of artificial intelligence-based backgammon programs:
Self-taught backgammon-playing computer programs are so good that they have overturned many of the assumptions previously held about how the game should be played and which are the best moves, especially in the opening phases of the game. Any player who trains by regularly playing against a backgammon program, using moves suggested by the program itself, can learn to play at levels that were previously attained by only a few top players.
One of the earliest AI-based backgammon programs was TD-Gammon, written by IBM researcher Gerald Tesauro and included in the 1996 release of the OS2/Warp Family Funpak. Later programs based on that technology include Olivier Egger's Snowie and the free GNU Backgammon.
An interesting read.
Note: This is an archive post; it was originally published on April 26, 2007.