Backgammon-The First Move Is The Deadliest

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 26th, 2010

Often in backgammon games, the outcome of the entire game could be determined in one or two successful opening plays.

You want to be on the giving end of those moves ,rather than on the receiving one.

Playing internet backgammon in general ,and especially playing backgammon for money can be nerve racking, as you want to win at all cost, so here are some tips and helpful advises that will assist you in reading your opponent, his strategy, his way of thought on the board in general.

In certain backgammon tournament and several online-games sites, a double in the opening move is prohibited, so when you think about it there are only 15 possible plays for your opponent (or for you for that matter) to begin with.

To each of the 15 opening plays there are over 20 possible replies-some more successful than others- the idea is to know which play to use and when.

In the following explanation I will give you some helpful tips that will help you choose the right play at the right time, and hopefully helping you win some cash?

The following are the recommended replies when you get a double:


In this situation it is my recommendation that you "build" two houses, one at the 7- point bar and one at the 5-point bar. This will help keeping your opponent at bay, and it's considered both a fine offensive and defensive play.


While there are several beneficial moves with this roll, the most important tip here is to not make the run towards the 16-point bar, as it will get you nowhere.

The best thing for you is to establish your position is the 11,4 point bar with a two-checkers house.


Most players would play this by taking the 7 point bar, which is ?ok. But the best play here is to either hit your opponent in the 3 point bar if possible and make the 10 and 21 point bar moves.


Again, it is best to try and initiate a hit, since 4-4 is a strong combination, otherwise try to move to the 9 and 20 point bar.


While several experts will recommend on the play from the 13 point bar to the 3 point bar- I disagree.

I think the best play is hitting if possible at the 1 point bar and closing it with the 3 point bar from the 8th spot.


Now this is a real double edged sword, since on one hand it can help you establish your full and complete control on the board, it can also get stuck you with an atom bomb when all you needed was a fire cracker.

It is my advice that you try and establish yourself in the 18 and 7 point bar, but if those spots are taken the 2point bar is alright?

Now, the following are the recommended replies for an opening move with a non double roll:

*5-1, 4-1:

Not a great roll, the best way to go is to split your far checkers, or make a hit if possible. However, it is not wise to make the 8 point bar.

*6-3, 6-2:

Depending on your game plan - the offensive minded player should take the 18 and 10 point bar, and obviously hit if possible. The more conservative player should probably go for the 15 point bar.


Here you should definitely hit your opponent if possible since it's a short range roll, if not ,the best way to go is for the 11 and 8 point bar.

*5-3, 3-1, 4-2, 6-1:

A very good roll for you to start with, and in any case like this that allows you to build a barrack with two checkers - do it!

The one exception is perhaps if your opponent exposed himself at the 9-10-11 point bar?your barracks are meant to keep his checkers in, and if he is already on the run, an empty jail is not worth much?


Again, if hitting is possible- do it! If not, just make the 21 point bar.

*6-4, 6-5:

These are also strong rolls, that should be used as an offensive tool, meaning you should take your far checkers to the 13-14 point bar rather than going safe at the 2 point barrack.

For conclusion, I have played thousands of games and backgammon tournaments ,whether online games or offline, whether it was backgammon for money or free backgammon, these moves were proven successful not once, so stick to it and remember that sometimes the right reply at the right time could well be the finishing play.

Good luck J

Nick Niesen

About the Author

Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
Articles Posted: 33,847

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