There are four fundamental tactics in backgammon. These are outlined below. There are thousands of pages online that will go into greater detail and also expand on this selection. Our Glossary will explain some of these terms for beginners. Additionally, our Deluxe Backgammon Playing Guides provide extra information.
Tactics vs Strategy
A strategy is a set of instructions used to achieve a specific objective, whereas tactics are the specific short-term actions aimed at achieving those instructions. The overall objective in backgammon is to move all of your checkers off the board before your opponent does. Luck plays a part, but overall, how you achieve your objective will depend on the strategy you choose to play. The strategy can change multiple times during the course of a single game.
Priming, for example, is a strategy that takes a time to employ. Building a six-prime is not something you can achieve in a single move. It may take dozens of plays to achieve. How you go about building the prime will involve employing selected tactics on each individual move.
Securing points by placing two or more of your checkers on a single point is normally a good idea. In backgammon owning a point in this way provides two distinct advantages. Firstly, it provides you with a safe place for your checkers to land on as they move around the board. Secondly, they make it more difficult for your opponent to move their checkers around the board as a point is no longer available for them to land on.
Securing consecutive points creates a prime. Primes make it more difficult for your opponent to move as they require larger rolls to clear. The ultimate is a six-point prime because it creates an impassable trap for any of your opponent’s checkers that are trapped behind it.
Hitting your opponent’s checkers
If your opponent’s checker is alone on a point it is vulnerable to be hit, which will send it off the board and back to the bar. Therefore, your opponent will need to re-enter the board on a subsequent throw. This sets your opponent back in the race. After hitting a checker it is best to move the checker forward to a secure point. Although, a better option, if possible, would be to hit a second checker because it is harder to re-enter two checkers than one.
If none of the above tactics is suitable on a particular roll, developing your position is another option. Builders are checkers that have been moved into position in the hope of using it to create a point on a subsequent roll. Developing your position means to improve the overall structure of the board in order to create flexibility. To achieve this, you may need to take some risks by slotting or splitting checkers. These risks involve leaving blots as builders to secure a valuable point on subsequent rolls.