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Choosing a Backgammon Game Plan

By Andrew PolochkinSo, there are the first few turns, during which contestants try to capture the key points and to prevent the opponent from doing the same. But what comes next? The answer is simple. You must first select a game-plan in order to continue, and then start following it. Backgammon experts distinguish only five basic plans. When choosing a plan, it is necessary to consider the results that have already been achieved, at this time, by both players.

You may encounter the following situations :

Blitz
You have succeeded and were able to build points and block some of your home area; and by passing, you also sent one or two of the opponent’s checkers to the bar. In this case you should try building on that success, even by taking some risks. Ignore the threat of retaliation, and use any opportunity to hit the re-entering opponent’s checkers, not allowing the rival to create an anchor (two checkers on one point at the home area of the rival). Bring your checkers to the home area, place them on different points of the outer home area and add reserve checkers to the already occupied senior points. It is necessary in order to increase the number of dice combinations that will allow you to occupy a new point in your home area or to hit the rival’s checkers. With an aggressive backgammon play, it is much more likely that you will be able to fully cover your home area and win Gammon (Mars), and if lucky, Backgammon. Such a game plan is called a blitz.

Choosing this plan, do not rush to double the bet. Your opponent will gladly decline your proposal, fairly having decided that it is better to lose one point, rather than probable two or three points. The only scenario, in which you might think of doubling, is when your opponent was lucky rolling a double, or he managed to block one of the points in your home area and establish an anchor there.

Blocking
The Battle for key points has ended in a drawn. The difference in race is no more than 10 steps. Start looking for opportunities to use the rolled numbers, for occupying points in the home and outer-home areas, thereby blocking the movement forward of the rival’s rear checkers, and preventing him from doing the same with your checkers. This backgammon game plan is called blocking.

However, note that most often, it is useless to block a lagged checker. Catching a lagged checker, according to aptly skilled backgammon players, is hard as catching a slippery soap in the bathroom. It is recommended to bring this checker down. The most effective action is to block the opponent’s anchor. This is best done at a distance of 6 points. There is a simple explanation. If your opponent rolls 6-6, he will not be able to quickly remove lagged and rear checkers and beat you in the race. He will have to move the other checkers, located in the central part of the board (outer-homes).Thus a large gap would be formed between the opponent’s two groups of checkers, which will break their interrelations. Blocking an anchor at a distance of 5 points is also very effective. Gradually increase the number of occupied points blocking the opponent’s checkers, trying to reach the ideal position, called a prime; a structure you get by blocking 6 points in a row.

Race
As a result of losing several high numbers, the rival is close to conclusion or brought all of his rear checkers to the center of the board, and now there is a minimal contact between your checkers and your opponent’s ones. So, it’s time to start this race. Do not get distracted with other goals (creating anchors, prime, etc.), and run as fast as you can to your home area. Start with the farthest checkers. Do not attempt to arrange all the checkers on points 5 and 6. Try to divide them evenly between the home area points.

The ideal arrangement of checkers, just before the removal stage, is having the number of checkers on every point equals one less than the point’s value; for example, point 4, should have 3 checkers. Such a structure of checkers will help you lose only a minimal amount of speed in their removal. It is a shame to waste precious time when you are compelled to move a checker inside your home area; because you cannot take out a checker with the number you have rolled.

Retention
If you seem to slightly lose the lead of the game and fall behind in the race with 10-15 steps, then start the backgammon game with retention. To do so, immediately take an appropriate action. First, try to establish an anchor as quickly as possible. The best locations to host the anchor are points 5, 6 and 4. Secondly, do not rush to escape with all rear checkers, leave at least one checker on point 1. These actions will help you to keep the rival’s home and outer-home areas under control, without giving him the opportunity to freely dispose checkers out there. This way, you limit the quantity of your rival’s successful numbers. Failed rolled numbers will force your opponent to leave an unprotected checker (a blot), and if it is hit, you start leading the game.

Back-game
You have hopelessly lost the initial backgammon battle. After your rear checkers have been hit, you lag in race in more than 15 steps. It might seem that it is all over for you. But backgammon would not be such an interesting game if victory could be achieved so simply. Instead of vainly compete the race, start to sacrifice your checkers, letting your opponent hit them and then enter them, trying to create multiple anchors in the home area of your rival. It will complicate your opponent’s efforts to secure and enter his home area and the removal of his checkers. This plan is called a back-game strategy.

Use the checkers, remained from anchors, to build points at your home area. According to statistics, even with an anchor, you have about 1 chance of 10 that the opponent will be forced to leave an unprotected checker. And with creation of two or more anchors your chances to take the lead in the game are multiplied several times.

You must understand that the general plan you have adopted can be changed in the future. In addition, during a game of backgammon for money (real or virtual) you should use various tactical possibilities. But this is already a theme for another backgammon discussion.
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