Backgammon Strategies

Thu, 29 May 2008 17:05

Backgammon Strategies

Backgammon game strategy and tactics.

Backgammon is regarded as the most ancient game in world history.  The game has a very old origin.  There are records showing that backgammon existed for more than 2,000 years ago. The game apparently also originated from both Mesopotamia and ancient Rome.  Now, backgammon continues to exist to be among the most recognized games in modern times.  

Backgammon is basically a strategic board game similar to chess and is played by two players.  Each player has 15 pieces that he must pass through the board's pointed parts.  A player aims to be the first one to move all his pieces on his boardside, which is called 'home board,' and take his pieces out.  The 24 points have numbers, and the players must race against each other in moving their pieces from points with high numbers to points with low numbers.  The play is dictated by rolling two dice.  A player will roll the two dice, and the sum of the rolled dice will dictate how many times can that player move his pieces through the points.         

A mere knowledge of the mechanics of this board game will lead an average person into thinking that backgammon is just a race directed by the rolling of dice.  But a closer observation will show players that there are various backgammon strategies which could be used when playing.  It is vital for a player to understand all the primary backgammon strategies to become a good player. More importantly, one must also learn to play every positional kind and the corresponding doubling strategies to gain more advantage over his opponent.  

Backgammon strategies are classified into five common types, and three other less known types. Although it is possible that a game would not fall in any one these types, the possibility is very rare. The easiest among the eight backgammon strategies is Running Game.  Here, the players race against each other in being the first one to move all his pieces to his own home board and take all the pieces out, or 'bear off,' the backgammon board.  The player who has the fewer number of pieces and whose pieces are past his challenger's has the advantage of using this strategy to win.  

Another strategy is called Holding Game, wherein gamers keep control of their opponent's point.  The point is commonly located in the opponent's inner board, also called bar point.  The bar points (20 points) give the maximum opportunity of hitting the opponent while he takes his pieces nearer to home.  A bar point is a perfect anchor for Holding Game because points are weaker on points beyond.  When using this strategy, the gamer must be conscious of the placement of his challenger's pieces.  If the opponent only made the points eight and 13 in the beginning, he usually needs to leave shots while moving his pieces on the board.  The more landing points that the opponent acquires in his outside board, the less chances the player has of hitting.

A particular holding game type in backgammon strategies which involves putting up a prime is called Priming Game strategy.  The prime is composed of a row of ideally six points (hence, creating a wall).  A gamer's prime blocks the opponent's pieces behind that wall.  Maintaining this prime will keep the opponent's pieces trapped for long.  A player can build his prime in his place anywhere between the second point and eleventh point.  But in the case that it's the opponent who builds a prime, a player should get his pieces to a spot where he can get away with one number.  If the opponent's prime is composed of five points, the gamer must reach the forefront so he can break away with a six.  However, there's no escaping if the opponent's prime is six points.  Furthermore, when the two sides have powerful blockade, this is already classified as a Prime versus Prime, another priming technique.  Here, each side has equal prime points and equal quantity after the prime.  Also, the stranded pieces are in the forefront of the wall.  The situation is balanced, and the gamer with the least number of pieces has the advantage because in case that neither of the players evades the checkers, the player leading the race should be the first one to surrender his prime.

Blitz is another backgammon strategy wherein a player attacks the pieces of his challenger to keep the opponent stuck in the bar, as the player quickly moves his pieces to his inner table.  In backgammon blitz, a player occupies all the six pieces in his inside table, thus, these pieces are unable to reappear in the play until the player can bear off.  To start a backgammon blitz, a player must hit the pieces of his challenger, who remains in the bar.  Successful blitzes lead to gammons, and the gamer can instantly double in case all go well.  However, it must be noted in blitzes that once a player attacks, he must go on hitting and taking chances to create additional points.  Usually, the blitz fails because the player gets so much hit and sent back pieces. The blitz also may not work due to the fact that an anchor is created by the opponent.  These cases often lead to losses incurred by the player.  Also, a player must not blitz if his in his own board points are either lesser or equal points compared to the points of his challenger because a player cannot take a hit and remain at the bar.  

The most crucial among all backgammon strategies would be the Back Game, because the dice roll's luck affects the possibility of this strategy succeeding.  In Back Game, a player must control two or greater pieces in the opponent's inside table.  The chief aim of this strategy is to take a blot on the latter part of the game and then keep it.  For the Back Game to succeed, the gamer must build two anchors, advance at least ten of his pieces to keep the opponent once the player hits, and have ample timing to hold until the opponent awkwardly rolls and leaves one or two shots.  If the player is just below 50 to 70 pieces in the board game, Back Game with higher points, say two and four or three and four, is much more powerful than those with an ace point.  Best Back Games are usually the ones with points one-three, two-three, and two-four.  However, players must remember that this strategy is not advisable to take initially.  Back Game must only be done if the player thinks he is significantly behind.  The strategy only aims to impede the opponent's option so as to increase the gamer's chances to win.

As mentioned, aside from the five basic techniques, there are other less known backgammon strategies.  The High Anchor involves the player moving back his pieces as far as his mid-point, while the opponent is still holding the gamer's bar point, which can be four points or five points.  The Low Anchor, on the other hand, can happen in several means but is distinguished by the player holding the opponent's one, two, or three points, and by the challenger taking out his back pieces.  Meanwhile, the Scramble, which usually happens after the player had been hit while bearing off, involves 'scrambling' the pieces that were hit to safety and back to his boardhome.