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Backgammon Strategy

Backgammon is one of the most popular skill games in the world, in addition to being one of the oldest games in existence. One of backgammon's charms is that while the rules are simple, strategies for backgammon are anything but simple. It's important to learn the strategies though, because backgammon is very heavily reliant on your use of the rolls. Within a game, you'll get good and bad rolls, but if you don't know what to do with them, even the best roll can weaken your position. Learning backgammon strategy will ensure that you know how to take advantage of good rolls, and to protect yourself against less successful rolls. While no one website can give you all of the necessary backgammon tips, we can offer a few guidelines.

Establish anchors in your opponent’s home board. This is a defensive strategy and provides you with a safe landing place if you are hit and waiting to reenter. Try to create anchors on the higher points (20 and 21). If you have enough checkers behind, keep two anchors next to each other. It is sometimes worthwhile to allow a blot to be hit in order to buy time and protect other valuable points, so the anchors will help you get these checkers back on the backgammon board quickly and painlessly.

Build a prime - six points in a row - to block your opponent’s checkers. The prime serves as a line of defense which your opponent cannot cross, but you can. A prime in a player’s home board is known as a closed board, since his opponent cannot enter from the bar. With a closed board, your opponent can't play at all, so you can bring in any pieces you may have behind.

If you have a closed board, and your pip count is below your opponent's, and you have to start bearing off, bear off from your six-point first. This will guarantee that you are not in a contact position when your opponent enters from the bar.

Distribute your backgammon pieces to be within six pips of one another, so there is always a piece available to cover a man or to provide a resting place for a runner. Distribute your checkers as evenly as possible. You have more flexibility and will find it is easier to protect your position if you have fewer men on a point. You should never have more than six men on a point.

Leaving blots early on in the game can sometimes be strategic, but if you are in a weak position, you should probably reduce the number of blots.

Hit your opponent when it is to your advantage. Be careful not to hit just for the sake of hitting. A hit must always increase the strength of your game; be careful that it does not serve your opponent’s game. Use hitting to force your opponent to act evasively rather than advance his game. Remember that hitting a blot when your home board has several blots in it may end up hurting your game more than helping it.

If you're interested in the statistical side of the strategy, be sure to look at our Dice Theory page.

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