My rookie lessons as a backgammon player.

opening moves in backgammon

Starting to learn backgammon, I made many mistakes which could be categorized as not seeing things through, and I wanted to share some.

  1. Taking a piece not worth what you may lose.

This is the biggest mistake, see the example below.

opening moves in backgammon
a risky counter play

What happened, your opponent made a small move (move 1) which helped them to free up in the future.  In move 2, you jumped on the piece to get it back on the board.

Here is the problem: You take that piece, but then you are setup to get your piece taken.  If that happens, you go all the way to the opposite side of the board. Remember, your goal is to get all your pieces off the board, which is in that quadrant.  So don’t risk moving your piece all the way from 6 pieces from the goal to 24 pieces from the goal. Not worth slowing someone down slightly.

2. Not escaping early enough.

moving checkers in backgammon

These two pieces have a long way to go, and as much as you don’t want them to keep getting pressed back and wasting time, you can’t wait forever.

Before you know it, your opponent is rolling a 2 and a 4, and putting two pieces to block another point you may need to escape.  Find your exit, regardless if it is only one piece, and start to work your way out. If you wait too long, before you know it there is a wall and you need extremely specific dice to make any headway.

3. Not using the middle pieces to fluff movement.

Often when I was playing, I was making mistake one, or making bad moves trying to free up the two furthest pieces.  My first moves would often be worthless and not help me progress. I realized over time, if I had no good opening moves – the middle pieces were prime real estate to keep the checkers moving.  It is next to impossible to take them with a first counter move, so they can be in a safe zone and prevent you from making a worthless move.

4. Not realizing this is an efficiency game

As I hinted to, you want to make all your moves count as much as possible (or count against them).  Everything you do needs to be working towards beating them to the end. Part of that is offense, part of that is defense, but regardless you are in a race to the finish line.  Win it.

1996 - infinity. The ringer in every spades tournament.

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