Tips for Backgammon Newbies
For those of you who are new to Backgammon or have just started playing the game, it would always be wise to remember that Backgammon is a "racing" game, in addition to being a strategy game. Your priority will always be to get your pieces to go around the board and get them out off it as soon as you can. Backgammon though strategic and logical in nature is not about defeating your opponent by frontal or indirect assault but by getting your pieces to your opponents' home as fast as you can while secondarily thinking of ways to slow your opponent down.
As this is all about tips for beginners, it is assumed that the reader is already familiar with and has at least a basic understanding of how the game is played. It is advisable however not to learn everything there is to Backgammon at once as it takes time, even years, to be really very good at the game.
There are certain tactics and other factors that a beginner must always try to keep in mind when playing the game. First would be the 3 basic strategies which are:
The break-off and run strategy
...which is the objective of the game in the first place. Try to get all your pieces around and off the board as soon as you can. Try to forgo hitting your opponent’s single piece on a triangular slot, blocking or creating obstacles if it isn’t necessary and will only delay your movement. Run to win!
The Block-gammon strategy
...which will require you to think strategically of ways and means to block your opponent who is skillfully relentless in blocking and getting ahead of you. You do this by creating blocking primes (6 consecutive occupied slots) or resorting to frontal attacks on undefended enemy pieces whenever an opportunity arises to throw it back to the bar.
The Back-gammon strategy
...which is also known as the Back-Game. This is the most difficult of the three as you are forced to resort to tactics from games like Chess. This should be used more like a last-ditch effort when the run to win strategy would be extremely difficult or almost impossible to achieve. Using the principles of sacrifice to achieve checkmate position, you open single pieces to attack, get them back in the bar then to the starting positions. You then try to maneuver them into primes to block the remaining pieces of your pesky opponent while thinking of ways to get them around and finally off the board.
Now this are the strategies beginners have to keep in mind. However, a good Backgammon player does not live by strategy alone. Backgammon is a game that requires continual learning where most have to rely on experience to develop the decision skills needed to be not just good but really good with the game. One has to know how to get the odds to work in one’s favor. Luck and the roll of the dice does not always determine the outcome of the game. It’s more like how you deal with the situation.
Here are a few tips that every Backgammon newbie can put to use in combination with the 3 basic strategies discussed above.
#1 Focus your attention on your last board (the out-going quadrant) and try to move your pieces there. Try to always add a piece or several to that area for every turn you get. This is helpful especially when your opponent is ahead of you.
#2 When you know you’re ahead in the game, resist your urge to play Chess. Break-off any attack which may come up and focus on your run. Do not engage the enemy and proceed with your objective.
#3 Make your prime longer should you find the need to make one. Try to fill up those 6 triangles ASAP so the enemy has nowhere to land.
#4 When you’re on the run always keep an eye on your last quadrant and take every opportunity to slot a piece out of the board. Make your dice rolls count. Don’t waste moves with other pieces when you can get one or two out for good.
#5 During the early part of the game, try to maintain equilibrium with your pieces so to speak. Have your pieces control the 4 and 5 point positions on both yours and your enemy’s side. These are strategic points which you should try not to relinquish to your opponent.
#6 Do not focus on the dice. Getting big combinations of numbers or doubles per roll maybe lucky but try to remember that luck does not determine the outcome of the game. Your opponent is watching your every move like a hungry wolf. Treat the numbers as resources which have to be used judiciously in getting your pieces off the board.
#7 As a beginner, always have a copy of the Backgammon rules when playing the game and refer to it when a situation is in question and you have no idea what to do.
On a final note for those who are intent on mastering the game, one would be well advised to study it by reading books, watching tutorials as well as playing and learning from those who are really good. In today’s age of computers, learning Backgammon has become much easier by practicing with the various available Backgammon games or AI opponents in the market today.