Backgammon is a game of skill, luck and intuition. The scenario varies with every game, where any pre-defined strategy may fail for obvious reasons. Here we can echo Oscar Wilde as ‘Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes‘. However we want to build a basic strategy guideline, which should help you in tackling crux situations.
Knowledge of backgammon terms
You should have adequate knowledge of the terms like prime, holding, racing. Identify the key points and define your strategy as per the progression of the game. Keep your eyes wide open and try to judge how the opponent is playing or where he places his checkers.
Guess the opponent’s intention
Try to guess the opponent’s intention and plan. Your placing of checkers must be at your advantage but simultaneously to upset the opponent’s plan, at the least, it should create hindrances in the opponent’s planned moves.
1. Keep your options open. Whenever you are placing a checker on a particular point, think of the movement of the checker at your next roll. It’s always advisable to keep at least 2 alternatives open for every subsequent move.
2. Always try to spread checkers in pairs. It helps you from being hit. (There are times when being hit may work in your favor). If you are trailing significantly and your checkers are still far away from being hit, place them checkers at the bar, which will result in quicker movement. This is especially very helpful in case of a ‘back game’.
3. You must know when to leave a shot. Let’s assume that the opponent’s checker is placed on the bar and you are to leave a blot or a prime (anchoring) then it’s wise to leave a shot.
4. Try to hit an opponent’s checker in the ‘away board’. Experts say that this is even more important than making a blot or blockade in the form of prime.
5. Don’t try to occupy the ace-point in the beginning. Let the checkers move out for hitting or anchoring. Try to focus at the ace-point in the final stages of the game.
6. We realize that the bar-point is very important. However we insist you to try to occupy the equity points in the early stage. These are the 4th and 5th points on both the sides.
7. Your decision regarding doubling is a match winning or losing parameter. You must know when to issue a double, when to accept or decline and when to issue a redouble. Remember the break-even point of a double is 25%. In trailing situations double may bring about dramatic changes in the match. Go by Woolsey’s Law, ‘put yourself in your opponent’s shoes’.
8. We advise you to redouble at a stage when you don’t have anything to lose, like in the 2nd game of a 3 game match if you have already conceded the first game.
9. Anchoring is always preferable to restrain the movements of the opponent. If your opponent sets up an anchor the best way to counter is with an anchor of your own. And again at a stage when you are trailing. Trying it may be your only available lifeline.
10. The occupation of 7 or 9 point is advantageous when you are trailing. It will create pressure on the 12th point (Mid point) of the opponent. Don’t try to go too deep at your home board in the beginning. Leave the 1/ 2/ 3 points empty. The 5th point is equally important like the 7th one as the 5th point also prevents the opponent’s checkers from entering the bar.
The key difference between a winner and a loser lies in their understanding of the backgammon principals and the mathematical ability to analyze the game and applying them in proper place and more importantly at an opportune moment.