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Backgammon Strategy
Introduction Dice Probability Opening Moves
Tutorial 1 Tutorial 2 Tutorial 3

Backgammon Strategy

To get some insight in the different strategies involved in playing backgammon we will describe the basics of these in short. This will include exposure, blocking and priming, enchoring, hitting and distribution.

Exposure
In the beginning of every game your opponent will not have a very strong home board yet. This makes it not a very big problem to be hit and therefore will make you willingness to take risks. It can be very clever to leave a blot in order to build some strong points. In the time your opponent made a strong home board it will be harder for you to come back on the board when being hit and this makes you less willingness to take risks. If you are ahead in the game you also want to avoid blots to keep your advantage.
We will give you some guidelines to advise you if it is appropriate to leave a blot or if it is better to avoid the risk of exposure.

Blocking and priming
Try to build as many points in a row in front of your opponent's checkers as possible. This will have to make it hard for your opponent to get away. When building a block it is best to make your points in the following order of importance: 5, 4, 7. So it is better to make point 5 then to make point 4 or 7. When you made 6 points in a row (a full prime) it will be impossible for your opponent to get away as long as you can keep the prime.


Enchoring
Enchoring is building a defensive point (anchor) in the home board of your opponent. An anchor has two advantages. First this will give you a landing point if you have any checkers on the bar and second it will give you some good possibilities to hit your opponent (most times). In the beginning of the game it is better to build some high anchors (points 20,21) but if you get behind in the race it will be better to have some low points in your opponent's home board (point 22, 23, 24 for you).
Beginning players make a lot of mistakes by breaking down their anchors while they are behind in the race. We will give you some hints whether it is better to leave your defensive points or to break them down.

Hitting
The choice whether to hit a blot of your opponent or not depends on several factors. It will be quite clear that you will only choose to hit if this gives you an advantage. Imagine yourself a situation when your opponent has two checkers on the bar. You now get the choice to hit a third checker or to make another point in your home board. In this case it will be better to make another point as this will make it harder for your opponent to get his checkers off the bar. In the meantime you will get some additional time to build your home board. Also be very careful to hit your opponent, if this means leaving blots behind.
It can be a quit complex question whether to hit your opponent or not, but we will try to give you some hints about it. An old backgammon saying says: "When in doubt, hit".

Distribution
It is important to distribute your checkers evenly around the board as this will give you more flexibility and you will need less 'luck' with the dice. For instance, it is better to have 2 points with 3 checkers each, then to have 2 points with 4 checkers on one point and 2 checkers on the other one.
In order to create a good distribution you will have to take some risks in the beginning of the game. We will try to make you see the importance of this.

Our other articles about backgammon strategy:
Backgammon Tutorial 1 - Run! (Right?)
Backgammon Tutorial 2 - All about flexibility
Backgammon Tutorial 3 - What's the point?
Opening Moves Backgammon
Backgammon Dice Probability