Five Basic Backgammon Strategies

Thu, 29 May 2008 16:59

Five Basic Backgammon Strategies

Backgammon strategy game.

There are five basic strategies which are often used in backgammon. To hone your backgammon game, you will need to recognize these strategies when they are used against you. More importantly, you must be flexible in your choice of strategy in the middle of any game if conditions suddenly become unfavorable.

At the start of play, your most appropriate strategy is often initiated by your first dice roll and your rival's choice of strategy. However, it is how you respond during the flow of any game that should help you speed your checkers through your enemy's and off the board. At the end of the day, the correct choice of any of the five basic backgammon strategies should pave the way for you to gain victory.


The simplest and easiest way to win is to avoid your pieces from being blocked, knocked, or getting bogged into equally trapped positions. This is running, the easiest of the five basic backgammon strategies. If you have already taken the lead, it is good move for you to press your game forward with an aggressive running game . If the initial two dice rolls are both numbered 65, it is best to aggressively maneuver your back pieces onward and start a race.The main point in doing so is to gather your checkers towards your own inner board and taking them all off the board swiftly.

Opt for a speedy running game if you lack more pieces than your enemy. Before starting the race, make sure that the bearings of the pieces would allow them the possibility of getting past your rival. Ideally, you should have already gotten them past or near-past your rival. Otherwise, if your enemy has far fewer pieces than you, then your running game holds fewer chances at success.


Holding is the second of the five basic backgammon strategies. The purpose of this strategy is to control a point found high up in your rival'’s board, usually either near the bar point or his own inner board. This is normally an effective move if you find yourself trailing by a wide piece count margin. Bar points make for more strategic anchors to hold since they will give you the maximum possibility of knocking off your rival as he moves his checkers nearer to home. Conversely, holding points located in the back of the board is much less useful to you. Once you manage to secure an effective anchor, quickly build up your board and knock your enemy's checkers as they pass by the held or contested point. If you also happen to roll a large double, it will allow you to let go of the contested point and switch to a running type of game with you in the lead.

Try to see the proper time to make an offer, to give in, or to drop the chance at a double cube when engaged in the holding type of game. Look at the way your rival distributes his men: if he only made little progress from the kickoff position, then he is most likely to let go of a shot since he needs to move his pieces around. Otherwise if he chose to create multiple landing points all over his outermost board, you will have less chance of knocking his pieces off and this strategy would become of no use to you.


The third of the five basic backgammon strategies requires you to build a wall of checkers—--ideally about 6 points long—--to stop a rival's checkers from moving across the board. You could bring it up between point 11 and point 2 at your board, and have it gradually move towards your own inner board as game play comes to an end. Your opponent’'s pieces will stay wedged against it and they will stay there as you choose to maintain the wall. This strategy, then, often results in a vicious struggle as your opponent looks for ways to move his pieces across the backgammon gameboard and past your wall.

On the other hand, when it is your opponent who has erected the wall, do try to quickly get your men to escape with just one number. If both players have opted to construct walls, it becomes a prime against prime game. In this scenario, the player who fares less in the counting becomes strategically more likely to pick up the win. This happens when both players are unable to move their checkers in a sort of mutual blockade; the race leader would then just have to drop his wall first.

The Blitz

This fourth of five basic backgammon strategies requires closing your own inner board as speedily as possible and limiting your rival's pieces to stay a top the bar. For example, your opponent can be seriously disadvantaged in two moves in case he gets stuck with 2 checkers over the bar, as you already completed half of your own inner board. This assault on your enemy’'s pieces is just one half of the strategy since you must move your pieces efficiently while he will be looking for ways to break your blitz. If you cripple your opponent’'s men by taking each point of your own inner board, you make it unable for him to play until the endgame or bearing off stage ensues and your chances at triumph will greatly increase.

However, the blitz strategy is very dangerous and inflexible. Once you launch your blitz, you must go all the way with it, and this will normally have you taking risks just to keep knocking your rival for additional points. If your enemy is able to create a secure anchor or if you suddenly see many of your own checkers knocked and sent way back, you would easily find yourself at a disadvantage. In other words, if your primary attack fails, you are sure to lose the game. Watch out for any key openings to use the blitz. It can occur as a previous roll when you find yourself knocking an opponent'’s checker off, while he remains on top of the bar.

This strategy is much less effective if your rival scored as much as you did. Since to score means that you must take unavoidable risks, you should not prevent from getting hit and remain on top of the bar. When blitzes succeed you often get gammons. When gambling your play, you can achieve the full weight of the tactical advantage of blitzes by landing a double value at the best possible time.

The Backgame

You will have the backgame--the last of the five basic backgammon strategies-- if you control points within your rival’'s home table. Create two or more anchorages in his lower-board points and have around 10 men ready to pin your enemy in case you are able to knock him. You can also control anchors in neighboring points or in between single ones. If you lack spares, preserve your pieces on top of the bar until your rival offers you an opening to hit again for them.

Essentially the backgame offers a defeatist's strategy; it is considered as a huge mistake to initiate a backgame early on in a game. Use it only if you find yourself already significantly behind your opponent in points, as this move is meant for you to hinder him and get back on the game. Luck also plays a factor in the strategy and-- if your opponent was able to knock you early-- the most logical next move is either to push for a holding or back game. While weaker opponents can be tricked into a backgame, this strategy will often be the logical outcome of a failed blitz attempt and many knocked checkers. Even then, only plan a last-ditch backgame if you find yourself two points back and very much behind in points.