Just how challenging is backgammon to play? It’s a question anyone new to the game will ask. Quite truthfully, the game is not that challenging. The basic rules are fairly simple so that anyone can pick up the game. But playing expertly can be a challenge because a lot of the correct plays can be counter-intuitive.
Placement of one’s checkers can be essential to actually winning a game, as leaving yourself open to hits isn’t very smart. But moving around the board to your home area can take some thinking and good dice rolls. It may sound contradictory, but in the beginning of a game it’s must better to leave a checker open to a hit, rather than later. That is because it’s much easier to get back on the board and through your opponents home board in the beginning when they won’t have many checkers there to block you in as later in the game. This can be determined by odd dice rolls early on and help you later in the game to win by getting past your opponent with those individual checkers.
One thing that is a challenge in the game is setting up a five-point in your opponent’s home board (defensive anchor). This is will keep your opponent from bearing in if you can accomplish it. Another good thing about pulling off this move is making sure your opponent can’t block you out if they hit you. This move also takes some luck with the dice to only move your two checkers in your opponents’ home board to the five-point location however other hit checkers may jump in to help make that anchor too.
On the same note, you will want to get your own five-point filled up to keep your opponent in your home board when you hit them. This won’t be as difficult if you have a opening roll of 3 and 1 or if you slot a piece down there and don’t get hit on your opponents roll. But trying to do both without losing too many checkers to hits can be hard if the dice are not giving you what you need.
Playing the game will teach you how to win by learning what you can each time. Playing against better players will teach you other ways to win. But these tips can make it easier to challenge the next person you play. And possibly make them wonder just how long you have been playing.
By Shawn Somerville
All of Shawn’s backgammon strategy articles can be found at HomeBackgammon.com along with bonus codes, freeroll listings and tournament schedules.