Play Backgammon With These Simple Strategies and Tactics

Although backgammon is a relatively simple game to play-harder than checkers, easier than chess-it takes an understanding of strategy and tactics to play backgammon well.

The most important thing to remember is to be flexible. At its heart, backgammon is a game of chance. Sticking with a strategy after your fortunes have changed is a sure recipe for disaster.

Basic Backgammon Strategies
At its most basic, your strategy should be to avoid being hit or trapped. Doubling up your pieces, known as creating an anchor, will keep you pieces safe. Watching out for "primes," where your opponent creates several anchors in a row, will keep you from being caught behind a wall of your opponent's stones.

Other major strategies include:

  • Running game. The running game is a simple strategy that involves getting around the board as quickly as possible. Consider a running game if you are ahead of your opponent or the dice are generating good rolls.
  • Holding game. The holding game is a defensive strategy that involves creating anchors to block your opponent's progress. A holding game can quickly become a running game with a high doubles roll.
  • Priming game. By creating several anchors in a row, you can trap your opponent's pieces, allowing you to get more of your pieces into your home board. A prime that involves six consecutive points (a "full" prime) will block your opponent from any forward movement.
  • Backgame. By building two or more anchors in your opponent's home board, you can make it more difficult for him to return pieces from the bar. A backgame is best employed if you are falling behind in a game; it's not a very successful opening strategy.

Tactical Backgammon Tips

  • Run, don't walk. Once you've decided to start a running game, make the most of it. Holding on to anchors will only slow you down.
  • Hang on to your chances. If you're on the wrong side of a race, don't abandon anchors that may give you a shot at hitting your opponent. Patience may give you a shot at turning the tables.
  • Don't think, just hit. If you have an opportunity to hit your opponent, it's usually the right move. Hitting is especially important if the opportunity is on your opponent's side of the board in a running game situation.
  • Bear off if you can. When bearing off, it is better to take pieces of the board than to move higher points down the line or fill gaps.
  • Keep an even keel. When bearing off, try to keep an even number of pieces on you highest points-this way you'll be ready to take advantage of the high double rolls in the end game.
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