Backgammon strategy is quite complex and many books have been written about the subject.

There are too many possible combinations for a given strategy to account for every game. As a result, the computer programs that are designed to play the ideal backgammon game utilize a system called a neural network in order to predict all of the possible outcomes of each move in a game. As humans, we don’t have that capacity, but there are some strategy points that can help us improve our game.

In backgammon you have two weapons to use against your opponent, and your opponent can use those same weapons against you. The first weapon is primes. Primes are spaces where your opponent cannot go because you have two or more checkers on those spaces. If you can set up six primes in a row, your opponent is blocked behind those primes and cannot get out. The second weapon is hitting blots. If your opponent has left a single piece on a point, that single piece is called a blot. If you hit it, their piece is sent back to the bar.

If you hit a blot that is in your opponent’s home board, you can set them back quite a bit. You can also use the two tools together. If you have filled your home board with primes and you hit your opponent, their piece cannot be brought in from the bar, giving you a serious advantage.

The important thing to remember is that your opponent has exactly the same arsenal, and can use it against you. As a result, it’s important to be careful where and when you leave blots. Leaving blots in or near your home board when there is a checker of your opponent’s nearby can change a game from a sure-win to a dead loss. In the game of backgammon it is best to try and avoid getting stuck behind blocks of primes.

If you do get stuck behind a block of primes, though, you can play what is known as a back game. Carefully organize your home board so that you have as many primes as possible on it and no blots. Then wait for your opponent to leave you a blot. If you hit it, it might buy you enough time to get your checker back around to your home board so that you can have a chance at winning.

Despite the appeal of a back game, it’s best to avoid playing that way. It’s a serious gamble, and if you lose, you stand to lose by a gammon or even a backgammon. After the player has brought all of their checkers into their home board, you simply can’t guarantee that they’ll leave a blot, particularly if you’re a few spaces into the board. Likewise, if you have a single checker there, they may simply put you back on the bar repeatedly, blocking your opportunity to play at all.

One last word of advice. Don’t hit every blot. If you have blots in your home board, you’re more likely to lose by hitting your opponent’s blot than you are to win. Only hit blots when it stands to do you more good than harm.

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