Backgammon Tactics: How to Gain an Edge Over Your Opponent


Backgammon is an ancient and strategic board game that has been with us for millennials. With its simple rules and complex gameplay, it offers a unique blend of luck and skill. While luck plays a significant role in determining the outcome of each game, there are several tactics you can employ to gain an edge over your opponent. Let's explore some effective tactics that can help you improve your game and increase your chances of winning.

But before we get to that let's recap the basics of the game.

Rules of Backgammon

We suggest you skip this part of the article if you are already familiar with the set-up

Backgammon is a two-player board game that involves moving pieces on a board and is played with a combination of strategy and luck. You can play in person, or you can play backgammon online. The objective is to be the first player to move all of their checkers off the board.

What you are going to need:

  1. A backgammon board, consisting of 24 narrow triangles called points.
  2. 15 checkers for each player of different colors.
  3. Two pairs of dice.
  4. A doubling cube (optional).


  • Place the board between the two players, with each player's home board on their right side.
  • Each player arranges their 15 checkers on their side of the board as follows:
  • Five checkers on the 6-point.
  • Three checkers on the 8-point.
  • Five checkers on the 13-point.
  • Two checkers on the 24-point.
  • Place the doubling cube between the players, initially set to 1.


  1. The players take turns rolling a pair of dice to determine their moves. The player with the higher roll goes first.
  2. On each turn, a player rolls both dice and moves their checkers according to the numbers rolled.
  3. The numbers rolled on the dice represent the number of points that a player can move their checkers.
  4. A player can choose to move one checker the total value of both dice or two separate checkers, each moving the value of one die.
  5. Checkers are always moved in a clockwise direction along the board.
  6. The following rules apply to moving checkers:
    • A player must use both dice if possible. If only one move is possible, the player must use the higher number.
    • A player can only move their checkers to an open point or a point occupied by their own checkers.
    • If a point is occupied by a single checker of the opponent, it is considered “hit” and placed on the bar in the center of the board. The hit checker must re-enter the game before any other move can be made.
    • To re-enter a hit checker, a player must roll a number that corresponds to an open point in their opponent's home board.
    • A player cannot move their checkers to a point occupied by two or more of their opponent's checkers.
    • A player can “bear off” their checkers once they have moved all of them to their home board. The bear off is done by rolling a number that corresponds to the point on which the checker is located.
  7. Doubles: If a player rolls doubles (both dice show the same number), they get to move double the value shown on the dice. For example, rolling double 4 allows the player to move four points each for a total of eight moves.
  8. The doubling cube (optional): During a player's turn, they can propose doubling the stakes of the game by offering the doubling cube to their opponent. The opponent can either accept the double, in which case the cube is turned to double the current stakes, or decline, in which case they forfeit the game and lose the current stake.

Winning the Game:

The first player to bear off all their checkers from the board wins the game. However, if a player bears off all their checkers before their opponent has borne off any, it is called a “gammon” and the winner scores twice the value of the doubling cube. If a player bears off all their checkers while their opponent still has checkers on the bar or in the opponent's home board, it is called a “backgammon,” and the winner scores three times the value of the doubling cube.

Now that we got to know how to play Backgammon, let's take it to the next level.


Understand the Opening Moves

The opening moves are crucial for setting up your pieces strategically. The goal is to establish a strong position that allows you to advance your checkers efficiently while minimizing your opponent's options. Study various opening moves and learn their advantages and disadvantages. Experiment with different strategies and analyze the outcomes to determine which opening moves work best for you.

Control the Center of the Board

Controlling the center of the board is a key tactical move in backgammon. By positioning your checkers in the middle, you limit your opponent's options and make it harder for them to maneuver their pieces. Aim to establish a blockade or create points that your opponent must navigate around. This strategy can lead to valuable points and create opportunities to hit your opponent's checkers.

Create and Break Points

Points are the individual spaces on the board. Creating and breaking points strategically can significantly impact the game. Forming a “prime” by occupying consecutive points can trap your opponent's checkers, making it difficult for them to re-enter the board if they are hit. On the other hand, breaking your prime can open up your pieces and create additional mobility. Understanding when to build and break points is crucial for gaining an advantage.

Utilize the Doubling Cube

The doubling cube is a unique feature that allows players to increase the stakes during a game. Knowing when and how to use the doubling cube effectively can give you a significant advantage. Generally, it is wise to consider doubling when you have a substantial lead in the game or when your opponent has checkers trapped behind your prime. Assess the board position, evaluate your winning chances, and make a strategic decision based on the risk-reward ratio.

Analyze Probability and Risk

The game most certainly involves elements of chance, but understanding probability and risk can help you make informed decisions. Familiarize yourself with the odds of rolling different numbers and calculate the likelihood of certain outcomes. Use this knowledge to assess the risks associated with specific moves. Sometimes it's better to play defensively and avoid risky moves, while other situations may call for a more aggressive approach. Balancing risk and reward is crucial for gaining an edge over your opponent.

Practice and Learn from Mistakes

As with any skill, practice is key to improving your game. Play against skilled opponents, participate in tournaments, or join online backgammon communities to challenge yourself and learn from others. Analyze your gameplay, review your mistakes, and identify areas for improvement. By continuously honing your skills and learning from your experiences, you'll be able to refine your tactics and gain a competitive edge.


In conclusion, it's a game that combines luck and strategy. While luck can influence the outcome of individual moves, employing effective tactics can increase your chances of winning over the course of a game. By understanding opening moves, controlling the center of the board, creating and breaking points strategically, utilizing the doubling cube wisely, analyzing probability and risk, and practicing regularly, you can enhance your ‘backgamming' skills and gain an edge over your opponent. Now it's time for you to go out there and conquer. Good luck!

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