# Lesson 27: Which Point To Make? Part 3 - Backgammon Blog

## Lesson 27: Which Point To Make? Part 3

By Bill Robertie
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Here are two early game positions where Black doesn’t have much and White has an inner point and some pressure.

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 has never really changed much on this point. We’ve found some 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 show both a typical case and one of the exceptions. In each position, Black has a chance to make a great point: either the offensive 5-point (Position 1) or the defensive 20-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 unstack and make his 4-point with 8/4 6/4.

In one of these positions, making the offensive or defensive 5-point is better. In the other it’s not. Can you spot which is which?

In Position #1, making the 5-point smooths Black’s distribution and grabs the best point in his board, a point which will be hard to get in the near future. Making the 21-point grabs a great anchor, but leaves Black with many difficulties developing his front position. Right now Black’s rear checkers aren’t under too much pressure, so he should leave them alone for now and just play 8/5 6/5.

In Position #2, Black can make the 20-point or the 4-point. The 4-point is a nice point, but it’s not as valuable as the 5-point in Position 1. At the same time, Black’s 20-point has gone up in value now that White has made his 4-point. If White hadn’t grabbed a new point, making the 20-point would be stronger than making the 4-point. Here it’s stronger yet, and making the 4-point is actually a blunder! Are we done?

Well, not quite. I forgot to mention there might be a third play in Problem 2, better than either the 4-point or the 20-point! It’s 24/22 13/9*, hitting and making the 22-point. Hitting a blot generally takes second place to making the 5-point or 4-point, and making the 22-point also falls short of making one of those two great points. But backgammon players have a reliable adage: Doing two good things is usually better than doing one great thing.

That’s the case here. Neither the 22-point or the hit would be sufficient in themselves, but taken together they trump making the 20-point.