Different Backgammon Strategies

Backgammon is a game that’s all about strategy! Players need to do everything that they can to get their checkers to their home board first and prevent their opponent from doing the same. Every move they make can make the difference between winning and losing, so here are some common strategies that players can try and learn as they perfect their Backgammon game.

Strategies when Starting the Game

The first moves that a player makes in Backgammon are extremely important. Of course, since you can’t control what you roll on the dice, what you need to know with regards to opening moves are how to respond with each potential dice outcome. This means memorizing the strategies that are as follows.

3-1 – make the 5 point
Any other move puts you at serious risk of getting hit by an opponent, so it’s really the only safe option. This move is strategic, but really just concerns survival!

6-1 – move to the 7 point (bar point)
It’s actually the second most important point on the entire Backgammon board. This won’t leave blots exposed to hits

4-2 – move to the 4 point
for the same reasons as the opening move above

5-3 – move to the 3 point
It’s a good strategic position and leaves fewer checkers open to hits. Though, many strategy books written on Backgammon do not agree with this strategy, now it’s commonly excepted for a 5-3

2-1 – split the 24 and 23 checkers (back checkers)
Bring one checker down to 13-11. Those willing to take a risk can also mark the 5 point

3-2 – bring the back checker up 3 (24-21)
and bring a 2 from the midpoint down
6-2 – run a checker all the way or go to the bar and bring another checker down
Of course, there are many other potential dice rolls, but some strategic moves are contested and there is no sure-fire move that you should make if you have other combinations. The above are the most agreed upon by Backgammon experts as plays that should be made!

Other Backgammon Strategies

In addition to the opening strategies, there are full-fledged strategies that can take players through a whole game. None of them are really right or wrong, and give players options to choose from, however, some are better played at different points of a game depending upon the outcome.

The Running Game
with this strategy the objective is to get all checkers to the inner board as fast as possible and then bear them off as fast as possible as well. It’s smart to put this strategy into play when you have fewer pips and many of your checkers are past your opponent. If your opponent has fewer pips, don’t use this strategy!

The Holding Game
with this strategy, you want to hold onto a point located high on your opponent’s board. A point on the inner board or the bar point is best. This is a great way for players to take out their opponents as they approach the home board and can really be used in any game, but is more recommended for those behind in the pipcount. This strategy can be more effective sometimes than others, depending upon where a player’s checkers are on the board. If they have the 8 and 13 points made, then the chances are slim you won’t be able to hit many of the checkers.
The Priming Game
this is also a type of holding game. It’s designed to block your opponent from being able to move their checkers by creating a wall of yours. 6 points in a row are the best way to setup a priming game to block an opponent. It can trap the other player and cause them to make moves that aren’t necessarily strategic, so they can give you an advantage. A prime can be setup anywhere between the 2 and 11 point and can ever be moved over as your opponent starts to move towards their home board.

The Backgammon Blitz
this strategy is like all out war in Backgammon! The idea is to keep your opponent stuck on the bar while you move your own pieces towards the home board. You can do this by occupying all 6 points on the inner table so the opponent can’t get their pieces back in the game until you’ve moved to your home board for bearing off.  The blitz strategy can really work out well, or it can fail. If your opponent finds an anchor, the game can quickly turn, causing you to lose fast and terribly.

The Back Game
you accomplish this strategy by controlling two or more points on your opponents’ inner table. To do this, you hit a blot late in the game and contain it. It’s a hard strategy to carry out, because it really relies upon luck when the dice is rolled. You have to have at least 2 anchors setup, plus have 10 checkers ready to contain the opponent. This is a better strategy to try later in the game.