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Playing Guide: Common Mistakes in Backgammon

Last updated on April 11, 2022

We covered the basics of strategy in our Deluxe Backgammon strategy introduction. Whilst it is useful to have several backgammon strategies at your disposal, it can be confusing for some players. Often beginners adopt one tactic and use it stubbornly throughout the game, often with disastrous results. It is important to understand these strategies, but it is critical to know when to change your strategy as the game unfolds. Here at Deluxe Backgammon, we make lots of mistakes, but we try to learn from them. Below we discuss some of the common mistakes in backgammon.

Moving too far, too early.

There are many errors that can be made in backgammon, but one of the most frequent is trying to move the checkers into the home board too early. Often, the player will use a high roll to move a checker closer to a bearing off position. However, it usually becomes a blot, an easy target for the opponent. If it gets hit, the player falls behind in the pip count and the opponent has the opportunity to form an anchor in the player’s home board. The backgammon strategy for bearing off should be based on your overall game plan, not just on a single roll.

Being too timid.

Another common backgammon mistake is being too timid. There are players who are hesitant to leave a checker alone on a point, afraid that it will get hit. Yes, it might be possible, but you should include the probability of being hit in your backgammon strategy. In order to win, you need to take risks. Just having your checkers stuck together will not get you anywhere. Learn to observe the game, and assess how it has progressed with your current strategy. By examining your positions (and those of your opponent) you will be able to estimate the amount of risk involved in leaving a blot. It is all part of the psychology of the game. Avoid stacking the checkers into ‘candlesticks’, it is a waste of material, that could be better used elsewhere.

Link to making sacrifices for good positions.
Candlesticks.

Panic.

Panic is common, especially among novices. Often, when the opponent gets high consecutive rolls and moves some checkers into the home board, the tendency is to break the anchors and enter the race. Such a move will throw your backgammon strategy into chaos. This is because anchors serve a very important function when a player is behind in the race. They will not only provide you with a strategic point to re-enter, but will also create a barrier to the progress of your opponent.

If you are behind in the race hold your anchors for as long as you can. When you do get the high rolls, do not go out and attack indiscriminately, be selective where possible. Try and hit the checkers on their 5-point. Otherwise, if they have pieces deeper into the home board, then hit them. The 5-point is the most important point on the board so always try and secure this when possible.

Summary.

Everyone begins as a novice at backgammon. All beginners make mistakes. Those that learn from their mistakes are the ones that will progress in the game. By learning from and then avoiding these common mistakes in backgammon, you will be rewarded with better results. That way you can get more enjoyment from your luxury backgammon set.

Related content

A complete list of Playing Guides is available on this link.

Backgammon rules are available on this link.

Backgammon cheat sheet.

The 5 best opening rolls in backgammon.

Backgammon opening theory at Wikipedia.

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