Lesson 28: Which Point To Make? Part 4 - Backgammon Blog

Lesson 28: Which Point To Make? Part 4

Lesson 28: Which Point To Make? Part 4

By Bill Robertie
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These positions look very similar, but in fact Black should play 6-4 differently in each case. What are the right plays and why?

In backgammon, a key skill is anticipating the flow of the game. You look at the board, you see what each side is trying to do, and you formulate a plan that fits the requirements of the position. Later in the game, this kind of anticipation is often easy. When your opponent has a five-point prime, you know that priority number one is to get your back checkers to the edge of the prime and anchor there. Priority number two will be to jump the prime if you roll a big number. Most of your plays will be easy. You’ll have a tough decision only if your roll lets you do something crucial on both sides of the board, like hopping the prime or building a prime of your own. But most of the classic position types come with their own set of requirements, which are easy to understand.

Early game plays are more difficult, however, because the position generally hasn’t solidified, so the flow of the game is harder to anticipate. Harder, however, doesn’t mean impossible. Let’s take a look at these two positions and see what’s happening.

We’ll start with Problem 1. However Black plays his 6-4 this roll, it’s easy to see what his future game plan looks like. On any roll where he can’t make a new blocking point, he’ll be splitting his back men and trying to either build an anchor or run into the outfield. White will be trying to hit those men, and Black will be trying to hit back. In many variations, a fair amount of hitting will ensue. In a hitting contest, inner-board points are vital, to keep your opponent on the bar as much as possible. So 10/4 8/4 is the right 6-4. By building inner points quickly, Black caters to the hitting contest which is likely to start soon.

Now let’s look at Problem 2 and contrast the two situations. Here Black has a great anchor on the 18-point. He’s not leaving that point anytime soon, unless he rolls a nice double that lets him swing around the board. Instead, he’ll go to work building a blockade and trying to trap White’s last checker.

White, for his part, won’t be moving up much, unless he can jump into the outfield and hit a blot. His proper game plan is to stay back with the last checker for a while, instead building his board in preparation for a later hit. Both sides are waiting; neither side is looking to get hit. With fewer hitting variations in the near future, Black needs a blockade and good distribution more than he needs an inner point. So making the bar-point is his play now.

About the Author
Player: 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.