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Top Advanced Tips and Strategies for Mastering Backgammon

Anyone can get lucky in rolling the dice, but it takes a lot more than luck to win at backgammon. Backgammon is one of those board games the origins of which can be traced back to civilizations some 5,000 years ago in Ancient Mesopotamia. Yet it still remains as popular as ever today, and for good reason. With exciting, fast-paced action and a seemingly unlimited skill ceiling, backgammon is fun to play, easy to learn, and immensely hard to master. Learning a few advanced strategy tips can go a long way towards improving your chances of winning.

Get off to a great start

Strategy is everything in backgammon – and the endless possibilities offered in terms of how to approach the game explain why it is so popular. Applying strategic thinking can help you overcome almost any unlucky dice roll. So, if you feel confident that you have mastered the beginner and intermediate backgammon strategies, time to venture into advanced tips and tricks. First things first: learn how to master the opening moves, and the rest will come more easily. Backgammon is based on math, and there are only so many options as to how to move your checkers according to your first dice roll. Just like chess, backgammon has an elaborate opening theory of possible moves. This means that it is important to practice until this process is almost automatic in your brain.

Source: Pixabay

You don’t want to spend valuable time calculating the odds at every game, so know the combinations available for your opening rolls. For example, for an opening roll of 3-1, which is generally considered one of the best, the optimal play would be 8/5, 6/5. For 6-1, the smartest move would be 13/7, 8/7, and for 4-2 it is suggested to play 8/4, 6/4. Practicing opening moves will allow you to play more confidently and also ‘play’ your opponent. The overarching purpose is, of course, to try and make a point, so that you establish room for yourself and cut off your opponent’s possibilities to move. Otherwise, a successful play often relies on splitting the 24-point, combined with moving a checker from those positioned on the 13-point.

Know your main strategy – and your plan B

Backgammon is by definition a race game that requires skill and strategy to come away victorious. But how to race will depend on the kind of player you are. It is important to find the strategy that speaks to your heart, as you will feel more confident implementing it. Are you comfortable with taking big risks and bank on your racing advantage? Or do you prefer to focus on building primes and play it safe so that you can wait for the best shot? Any of these strategies has advantages and disadvantages, so it is also important to understand what your plan B is if it falls through. For example, building a wall of six points either at your or your opponent’s home board will effectively cripple their wiggle room and give you the advantage of choosing when to break the stalemate, even when you have fallen behind.

Source: Pixabay

Try not to fall too far behind, by paying attention to your opponent: if they make an advanced anchor, strive for one, too. Look out to duplicate their constructive numbers, and never allow them to get all the four-points and five-points on both sides of the board. But if you find that you cannot advance forward, then knowing how to play defense, and in particular how to play anchors and primes, can make all the difference in the world. For instance, in situations where the game unfolds as prime vs. prime, you should always opt for plays that won’t allow you to play any high numbers when you next roll the dice. And if you find yourself behind, then contrary to intuition, it might not be such a bad idea to allow yourself to get hit. Your opponent will most likely have to leave a checker vulnerable to hit you, while you will have the chance to develop your backgame.

Don’t forget that in backgammon, as with many other games, your confidence and your opponent’s trust in their abilities are communicating vessels of sorts. The more you show that you know what you are doing, the more they start to doubt whether they are making the right move.






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