Lesson 3: Making the 5-Point - Backgammon Blog

Lesson 3: Making the 5-Point

Lesson 3: Making the 5-Point

by Bill Robertie
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Here are two early game positions where Black has not much and White has an inner point and some pressure.

Position Analysis

Position #1

Checkers

1 8/5 6/5

48.77% MWC

-0.196
2 13/9*

48.2% MWC

-0.288
3 24/21 22/21

48.19% MWC

-0.289
4 22/18

46.13% MWC

-0.619
5 8/4

45.97% MWC

-0.643
6 24/23 8/5

45.97% MWC

-0.644
7 24/23 13/10

45.95% MWC

-0.647
8 22/21 8/5

45.72% MWC

-0.684
9 24/23 6/3

45.7% MWC

-0.687
10 22/21 13/10

45.68% MWC

-0.691

Cube

Backgammon Board: sGfiESDg8+ABJA:cInlAAAAAAAA
Position Analysis

Position #2

Checkers

1 24/22 13/9*

49.46% MWC

-0.086
2 24/20 22/20

49.38% MWC

-0.099
3 8/4 6/4

48.58% MWC

-0.226
4 22/20 13/9*

48.54% MWC

-0.234
5 13/9* 8/6

48.45% MWC

-0.248
6 13/11 13/9*

48.42% MWC

-0.253
7 13/9*/7

48.1% MWC

-0.303
8 13/9* 6/4

47.62% MWC

-0.379
9 24/22 8/4

47.32% MWC

-0.428
10 24/22 6/2

47.2% MWC

-0.447

Cube

Backgammon Board: mGfiESDg8+ABJA:cAnqAAAAAAAA

When Paul Magriel wrote his seminal book Backgammon in 1976, one chapter that was particularly noteworthy was entitled “The Golden Point”. There he described the importance of the 5-point, both for offensive and defensive purposes, and showed how making the 5-point was a key goal of early game play.

Over the years, theory regarding the 5-point has never really changed much. We’ve found a few exceptions, and certainly expanded our knowledge of when to break the 5-point later in the game, but the 5-point remains a key opening goal in most positions.

The two examples given above are very typical cases. In each position, Black has a chance to make either the offensive 5-point (Position #1) or the defensive 5-point (Position #2). In each position, there are alternatives that seem to have strong merit. In Position #1, Black’s rear checkers are under some pressure and seem to require a defensive anchor, which he can grab with 24/21 22/21. In Position #2, Black can actually hit while making a somewhat inferior anchor with 13/9* 24/22.

But in each case, simply making one of the 5-points is better. In Position #1, making his own 5-points smooths Black’s distribution while starting to put White under some pressure. In Position #2, grabbing the defensive 5-point with 24/20 22/20 prevents White from ever building a priming position, after which Black can start to build points on his side of the board.

It’s incredibly hard to go wrong by making one of the 5-points at an early stage. The exceptions are rare and tend to be exceptions by only small amounts. When in doubt, go for the 5-point.

About the Author
Bill Robertie
Bill Robertie
William Gerard Robertie is a backgammon, chess, and poker player and author. He is one of four backgammon players to have won the World Backgammon Championship twice.
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