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Backgammon Tutorial 1: Run! (Right?)

A lot of beginning backgammon players make the mistake to do anything they can to put their own checkers at safe, irrespective of the question whether they are ahead or behind in the game. Most online backgammon servers are using a pipcount which makes it very easy to see how you are doing in the race. The pipcount answers most of the time the question whether you should put your checkers at safe or you should keep them in a defensive position.
We will take a look at some examples:

Example 1:
Pipcount: Orange 104 / Purple 81

Example 1

You are playing with orange and you roll .
In this situation you (orange) are behind with 23 pips. A lot of beginning backgammon players will make the mistake to play their checkers at point 17 at safe (17/11 17/11). At first this may look like a very logical thing to do, you don't want to give your opponent the chance to hit you somewhere in the next couple of rolls right? The problem with this play however, is that YOU will also miss the chance to hit your opponent later on. Because you are behind in the race, the last thing you want to do is to break contact with him or her. The moment you play (17/11 17/11) you will lose the chance to hit one of the purple checkers at point 12. The game will now result in a race in which your opponent is given the best chances. After this move you are still behind with (23 - 12 =) 11 pips. The right thing to do now is to play (13/4 13/10). This way you will still have a good chance to hit one of your opponent's pieces at point 12 somewhere during this game. The only way for purple to not leave a blot with these checkers is to roll a double.

Example 2:
Pipcount: Orange 82 / Purple 81

Example 2

You are playing with orange and you roll .
At first this situation looks very similar to the previous one. There is one big difference however. At the moment you are behind in the race again, but this time only with 1 pip. After you have made your move with 5/6 you will be ahead with 10 pips. Because of this, you now want to finish this game with a race as you are a favourite to win it this time. The right thing to do therefore is to play (16/11 16/10). This way you will not give your opponent the chance to hit you during the rest of the game.

Example 3:
Pipcount: Orange 143 / Purple 105

Example 3

You are playing with orange and you roll .
Again, a lot of beginning backgammon players will decide to play (24/13) so they can put one checker at safe. This is wrong! You are behind with 38 pips and it will be extremely important to hold an enchor so you can get a chance to hit your opponent and to come back in the race. The right play will be (13/7 8/3).
In case you roll double 6 in this example, what would you do? A good backgammon player would play (24/18 24/18 8/2 8/2). Holding the bar point (point 18) will give you a very good position to get a chance to hit your opponent in the future.

Go to Tutorial 2: All about flexibility