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Backgammon Strategies

By A. Beckman To win in backgammon you have to have luck, as any player can tell you, but you can greatly improve your chances by choosing the right strategy.

You must choose your strategy from an early stage of the game, i.e. between the first cast of the dice to the third, give or take, because you have to play in the best possible way for the given dice combination.There are a number of basic strategies in the backgammon game, each of which has pros and cons compared to others. I have chosen two main ones:

The sprint strategy

This strategy involves skipping the checkers home as quickly as possible1 without special attention to the spread of blocks2 along the board. One starts with the furthest checkers and gradually the closer ones are jumped without reinforcing the block1. This strategy is very good when you start with 6*6, 4*4, so that when you can move the furthest peaces without unnecessary exposure. Of course you can opt for this strategy without these dice numbers, but you must make sure that you advance while considering the risk level of being hit (it is advisable to leave a maximum one or two checkers exposed). The advantage of this strategy is that if you hop over an opponent’s checker while he was busy building up blocks2, he will not have time to catch up, meaning that you can win. The risk is being hit and then stuck in the opponent’s block. There is another option of your remaining with exposed checkers (blots), and then there is a danger of being completely blocked by opponent blocks.

The fortification strategy

This strategy concentrates on reinforcing a block1 or creating a blockade as a preparation for catching and capturing your opponent, allowing you freedom of action on the rest of the board. If you manage to make 6 blocks2 in a sequence, your opponent can never cross and you can do as you please in the game until you have to clear the path. Combinations such as 1*3, 1*6 and 1*1 are classic combinations for choosing this strategy. The ideal situation is closing off the first six places in your block1, there being one or more opponent checkers outside3. Then your chance of immobilizing the opponent may be higher. The disadvantage of this strategy is that if you do not succeed in hitting an opponent checker, you waste a lot of time in making blocks, and now you have to try to catch up with the opponent, who has already crossed you, or while the opponent was stuck and reinforced his block1, then having to open it up, you may have to be expose blots and the situation may reverse. This means that you will be stuck in his block1. Avoiding this situation means that you must carefully consider the probability of being exposed later and move your checkers accordingly, soon after you undo your set of blocks.

There are of course variations the combine these two strategies to different degrees. The wisest thing to do is to attempt to understand the strategy that your opponent chooses and respond accordingly. If the opponent tries to sprint, you must catch his checkers at every opportunity while closing off his escape route, and if he tries to stop you with blocks, you must make sure that none of your checkers are at risk for being hit while advancing. At the same time you must try to catch your opponent on your own blocks.

    1- The place on the board you want to get your checkers to.
    2- Relates to two or more checkers on the same point, in which case they cannot be hit.
    3- Checkers that have been hit wait on the bar to return to the board.
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