Backgammon Concepts

Thu, 29 May 2008 17:09

Backgammon Concepts

Concepts for playing backgammon.

The game that combines chance and talent, backgammon is simple to learn, but difficult to master. Beginners quickly learn that this game is not just a simple matter of getting their checkers to their home board and bearing them off to win over the game. Experts themselves realize that no matter how strong they may be, the possibility of losing to a newbie is also there. Eventually, top players may have memorized all the probability tables and mastered all the backgammon concepts, but the luck factor that the dice bring in makes these top players humble.

Beating the odds and winning the backgammon game may likely to happen. Just as the same, the possibility to lose in backgammon is there, yet the satisfaction in having played your best against an equally good opponent is a pride. The stakes become abstract, vis-a-vis the money on the table.

A decent player must be armed with a working knowledge of basic backgammon concepts. Anyone honestly desiring to turn into a skilled player in backgammon needs to learn and properly apply certain and helpful backgammon knowledge. Some memory work is needed, and one has to know how to use the basic concepts in backgammon accordingly.

Back Game

A back game comes as a vital strategy employed to avoid losing, not winning the game. The back game means the move of desperation where you try to lag behind the race of moving all of your checkers to the board. As stated in the basic concepts in backgammon, timing is very important in back games, which are best played when most of your checkers have been hit. You must be able to estimate if your position would actually be enhanced or not by choosing to lag behind. This entails buying some time to be in an improved position. To win in this strategy, you must be behind the race only at the minimum of 75 to 100 pips. This means you are obviously a laggard and you have no other choice.

Cube Strategy

For many centuries, backgammon had been mostly the play of chance, until doubling cube was introduced in the early 20th century. Yes, the cube has only been around for less than a century, and the game has never been the same. Players no longer just relied on the lucky rolls of each die to win at backgammon, but they also had doubling cube to fall back on, if they had estimated they would win by using this strategy. Yet with doubling cube, you have to know exactly when to use this strategy, if you should even take it or not when your opponent offers it, and what strategy must be utilized to exploit any weakness of the opponent.

However, the proper usage of doubling cube depends on your ability to estimate your probability of winning, and if the game being played is a match play or a money play. A method to improve your cube strategy is by knowing and remembering which key positions occur again and again that can lead to a win through doubling.


Among the basic concepts in backgammon, this is the hardest to define in concrete terms, as this is a technical description of your position during the game. Equity basically pertains to the intrinsic value of your own play. Equity has two types. One is when in a match, the term would be similar to the term of odds when calculating your probability of earning the bet placed, such as in horse race. In this case, you are estimating the value of your position relative to the entire match according to points.

The other kind of equity refers to an estimate of your position in one game with bets, in proportion to what is at stake. This would refer to that part of the stake you will accept from your opponent, if the game needs to end at that very moment. However, it is impossible to accurately rate the exact value of your own equity.

Holding Game

Like back games, this is another important strategy commonly utilized by those falling behind their opponent and waiting for the right moment to lead the game again. You simply hold an anchor, then stays back until at any time you can make a hit. Ideally, while your opponent has most pieces in his or her own home board. The ideal anchor is located toward a point placed low in the board of your opponent. When the opponent attempts to strategically fix pieces in his or her home board, the pieces may then be hit from the point being held.

Mathematics and Probabilities

While the backgammon involves mathematics due to the usage of dice, even mathematicians acknowledge that luck is still a factor in playing backgammon. But given the presence of  doubling cube, you can become a skilled player and tilt the odds to your favor simply by learning and understanding the basic concepts in backgammon. You can then easily decide, just by knowing how to calculate the odds, that a certain move would most likely produce a hit in your favor. Two dice will always produce 36 different combinations, as there are six ways to throw each die. To figure out the 36 permutations is a skill, but you will be a skilled player and most likely win often in backgammon compared to players who disregard the math and probabilities of the backgammon game.


In backgammon, notation means the common documentation method of recording or noting the movement of checkers, using numbers. Standard notation numbers the points in a backgammon board from one to 24, the bar being point 25, and point zero refers to bearing off. The numbering is done from the point of view of each player. For instance, a notation of 8/5 means that a checker is moved to point five from point eight. This method is helpful when explaining or discussing game positions.  


Usually done when playing for money, such as in tournaments, the proposition is actually a position which is then played over and over, simply to settle an argument between players of backgammon. This requires the ability to analyze a situation and disagree with the opponent whether a game move or doubling decision was the best one to make. This is a created challenge to see whose opinion is the right one, and a bet for money is made. A proposition can only be brought up by knowledgeable and skilled players who exerted effort in learning the basic concepts in backgammon.


This refers to measuring the progress of your checkers during the game. Also a type of evaluation, if during the game, you are moving toward a winning or a losing position. This is a skill of figuring out the duration of your position versus your opponent. This also involves knowing when to apply certain moves to your advantage.  Normally recognized when the player seems falling behind noticeably, timing is resorted to when deciding whether a move should make a hit or not. Sensitivity to timing is best learned through experience.

Winning Chances

A skill that requires figuring out the odds of performing well or not in backgammon is not learned overnight. Calculating winning chances and planning ways to improve skills are made through intelligent decisions and are determined by the basic concepts in backgammon. These include knowing probabilities and cube strategies. The best probabilities of winning come from playing smart from the first move, when one is able to reach good positions to make the opponent fall behind.