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Backgammon tips and tricks for beginners

Last updated on April 11, 2022

There is still a lot to learn after covering the backgammon fundamentals. Every beginner will still need to understand the basic backgammon strategies and tactics. In addition, the opening moves need to be learned as does a basic understanding of probability. Backgammon is not a difficult game to learn, but understanding all of its nuances takes time. In this post, we have a few backgammon tips and tricks that will hopefully give your game a little boost during the early stages of learning.

Deluxe Backgammon tips:

Know the rules.

Don’t let your opponent invent rules especially if both of you are beginners. Always have a copy of the backgammon rules at hand. This should be a shared reference when both of you have a rule in question. Some of the most misunderstood rules are those regarding when a player can only move a single dice roll. Players must always move both numbers rolled if it is possible. If only one move is possible, the higher roll must be used. There are also a number of variants of backgammon that have slightly different sets of rules. Always, agree to the rules of play before you start the game.

What to do when you’re behind.

Be patient if your opponent has taken the lead in the pip count and you are forced to play a back game strategy. While you are waiting for an opportunity to take a shot you should focus your attention on strengthening your home board. If your opponent has escaped their back checkers you can safely slot points by making blots on your home board and covering it with another checker in a subsequent turn. Ideally, you want to close out your home board with a six-prime, so that when you do hit, your opponent is trapped on the bar.

Backgammon six-prime.
Six prime.

Run for it.

Whenever you find yourself a long way ahead in the pip count you should make a run for it as soon as possible. Break contact with your opponent’s checkers at the earliest opportunity and take maximum advantage of your strong lead. There are no guarantees in a running game, as your opponent could recover with a series of high rolls. However, the odds are in your favour and you should win the race most of the time.

How to lengthen your prime.

If you’re aiming to make a six-point prime really fast then you should slot points by leaving blots on either side of your prime and then covering them on subsequent rolls. This does involve an element of risk especially if your opponent’s back checkers are still in your home board. However, this is one really fast way to make your prime longer in a backgammon game. Slotting is a useful tactic to help build primes.

Secure the 5-points on both sides of the board.

The 5-points on both sides of the board are the most important points on the board. Securing one or both confers a great advantage over your opponent. The 5-point, in conjunction with the 6-point, forms the beginning of a prime to block the opponent’s back checkers. The 5-point is also deep in your home board and along with the 6-point provides an effective barrier when your opponent is trying to re-enter from the bar. In the best-case scenario, the 5-point forms part of a 6-prime against the opponent’s checkers.  The 20 point (your opponent’s 5-point) provides a secure landing area for your checkers if they are sent to the bar. If you hold the 20-point it is much harder for your opponent to build an effective prime against these checkers, compared to leaving the checkers deeper in play.

Backgammon 5 points.
The 5 points.

Avoid wastage when bearing off.

If you are racing your opponent to bear off your checkers avoid wasting your dice rolls. If you can bear off a checker using both dice results do it. Don’t waste rolls by moving checkers forward when you can bear one off the backgammon board. Additionally, avoid over stacking single points as this can limit your options and lead to wastage.

What to do if it’s your lucky day.

Don’t get over-excited when you get a lot of high rolls and doubles in a match. Stay calm and consider every possible option every time you roll a double. It is too easy to get excited and make poor decisions. One way of ensuring this is to consider every checker on the board for each move. It may be time-consuming, particularly early in the match, but it will ensure that you find the best possible move and not let your excitement get the better of you.

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