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10 Basic strategy for beginners. (Backgammon)

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This article is from the Backgammon FAQ, by Mark Damish damish@ll.mit.edu with numerous contributions by others.

10 Basic strategy for beginners. (Backgammon)

Single checkers (blots) on a point are vulnerable to enemy attack and
must start over if hit by n opponent's checker. Two or more checkers
on a point are safe from attack and can also be used for blocking or
trapping your opponent.

Essentially backgammon is a race to see who takes off all of his
checkers first. However, the shortest distance between two points is
not always a straight line. Most beginners, rarely leave exposed
checkers and hit as often as they can. As you will find out, this
seemingly logical approach is not the best strategy. The following is
a simplification of some of the factors that you should consider in
forming a winning game plan:

Distribution is how evenly your checkers are divided among the
points occupied. It is usually better to have 3 checkers each
on two different points rather than 4 checkers one and 2 on the
other. You should rarely have six checkers on a point and
almost never have any more. A player with even distribution
will seemingly get "luckier" dice than his less flexible

Don't be afraid to leave shots early in the game to establish a
strong offense or defense. Be more cautious as your enemy's
home board gets stronger. The more points he has in his home
board, the more difficult it will be for you to re-enter after
being hit. Conversely, the more points that you control in your
enemy's home board (anchors) the bolder you may play. Even if
his board is weak, limit the number of blots (single checkers)
to no more than four. If you are significantly ahead in the
race or position, then restrict your exposure to maintain your

Blocking and Priming.
Try to build points without gaps between them directly in front
of the enemy checkers in your home board to prevent their
escape. Establishing these critical points as early as possible
in approximate order of importance: 5, 4, 7 to start your
blockade. Six points in a row is called a prime. This makes it
impossible for your opponent to escape for as long as you can
maintain that structure.

Try to hit checkers that are the most advanced or checkers that
your opponent would like to cover to establish an important
point. Attack only when it is advantageous to do so. For
example, if you already have two enemy checkers on the bar, it
is more critical to make another point in your home board than
to hit a third checker. Also refrain from hitting if it makes
you more vulnerable than your opponent. Keep your objectives in
mind and don't be side-tracked. However, there is an old
backgammon adage that still carries weight, "When in doubt,

Anchoring is establishing a defensive point (anchor) in your
enemies home board. This gives you a landing spot to come in on
should you get hit and prevents your opponent from making his
home board. Early in the game try to establish anchors on the
higher points (20,21). If you become significantly behind in
the race, the lower points (22,23,24) have more value as your
strategy is to build your home board and wait for a shot. If
you have two anchors try to keep them on adjacent points.

These are just a few ideas for the beginner to get started and is not
meant as a tutorial. There are many fine books available if you awant
more information.

From Macintosh Expert Backgammon Documentation by Tom Johnson


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