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Backgammon strategy – Backgammon best opening moves

If you are reading this article, you probably  have already read and understood the backgammon rules for beginners. Now you want to finally  start playing a game of backgammon, but you might wonder: what is the best way to start? What are the best opening moves in backgammon? Well, you will soon discover in this post that backgammon experts have already asked them self the same question and came up with some definite answers to that question.

Tom Keith, from backgammon Galore, has written a very interesting article about how to play the openings rolls. According to Tom, it is very important to learn the reasons why certain plays are better than others during the opening rolls. And as they happen at every start of the game, it is worth learning how to play each opening dice roll combinations. After all, there are only 15 possible variations.

Focus on your two major goals of the game: 1—Trying to trap your opponent’s runners behind a blockade. 2—Escaping your own two runners before they are trapped by your opponent.

Tom Keith

If you want to win a game a backgammon, your opening move can be crucial for the development of rest of the game. There is a total of 15 different opening moves as stated before, and here, I am going to review the best opening moves in backgammon. And you should really know them if you want to improve your game.

If you want to increase your odds of winning do not make any backgammon moves other than what the experts recommend.

Phil Simborg

3-1 backgammon opening move

Probably the best opening move. When you roll a 3/1, you have only one solution.

  • Move 8/5 and 6/5.
  • The 5 point is according to all backgammon experts, the most important point.
  • It also start you up with a 4 points prime for later on in the game

With a 3-1 opening dice roll, make your 5 point, 8/5, 6/5.

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4-2 backgammon opening move

The best strategy here is to make your 4 point.

  • As the 4 point is on your home board, it will make it more difficult for your opponent to enter the board when he gets hit.
  • The 4 point is a good point if you want to do a prime
  • Can be used to attack your opponent blots or to build your point 3 , 2  and 1.

4-2 backgammon opening dice roll, make your 4th point. 8/4 6/4

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5-3 Backgammon opening move

Even if your 3 point is not as critical as your 5 and 4 point, it is still a point in your home board. Therefore it is important to make your point 3 with a 5-3 opening dice roll.

5-3 backgammon opening move, make your 3rd point.

5-3 backgammon opening dice roll, make your 3rd point.

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6-1 Backgammon opening move

While your bar point (point 7) is not as valuable as your 5 point or 4 point, it is still a good point as it is the only opening roll you can get where you can make an immediate 3 points prime.

6-1 opening roll dice, make your bar point (point 7)

6-1 opening roll dice, make your bar point (point 7)

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6-5 Backgammon opening move

This is the largest opening roll and there is really only one possible play: 24/13.

Running your back checker is a good way to open the backgammon race.

Also, it allows you to escape your runner before your opponent has a chance to build a prime.

6-5 opening roll. move you runner 24/13

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2-1 Backgammon opening move

With a 2-1 opening roll, move 13/11 and 6/5. That sets up your 5th point for your next roll. You have good chance to repeat it on the next roll.

Remember that your point 5 is such a crucial point to own eraly in the game.

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4-1 Backgammon opening move

Move 13/9 and 6/5. Alternatively, you could also split your back checker and do 24/23 and 13/9.

4 – 1 opening roll: move 13/9 and 6/5

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5-1 Backgammon opening move

Move 13/8 and 6/5. As for the 4-1 opening roll, you could also split you back checker and move 24/23, 13/8.

5-1 opening roll: Move 13/8 and 6/5

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6-2 Backgammon opening move

Move 24/18, 13/11.

  • You split to your opponent bar point and bring down a builder from your mid-point.
  • Don’t worry too much about that vulnerable point 18. If you get hit, you can hit your opponent back with your checker on point 24 by rolling a 6.
  • Furthermore, early in the game, the board is wide open so it won’t be difficult to re-enter if you are hit.

6-2 opening: Move 24/18 and 13/11.

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6-3 Backgammon opening move

Move 24/18, 13/10.

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6-4 Backgammon opening move

You have few choices with a 6-4 opening roll:

  • 13/9, 24/18 (splitting your back checkers and bringing down a builder from your mid-point).
  • 8/2, 6/2 (making your two-point).
  • 24/14 (running one of your back checkers).
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3-2 Backgammon opening move

Few option there as well but your best bet would probably be:

  • 24/21, 13/11 (splitting using the 3 and bringing down a builder using the 2).

On thing you should avoid doing at all cost is 13/8.

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4-3 Backgammon opening move

There are different ways of playing this opening roll. The one I would suggest is this one:

  • 13/10 and  24/20

Your checker on the 13 point will be relatively protected from your opponent checker on the 24 point.

Also, you are sitting up on your opponent’s 5 point, which is the best point to own on your opponent home board. This will make your checker vulnerable but hopefully, you will manage to secure it on your next roll.

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5-2 Backgammon opening move

Probably the less exciting opening roll you can get.

  • Move 13/8 and 13/11: overall a quite defense move strategy but is is the best you can do with this opening roll.

Jacoby and Crawford (1970): “13/11, 13/8 is by far the best play because you begin to set up a strong blocking action in relative safety.”

The blot on the 11-point covers the outfield and provides a builder for the five-point, bar-point, and nine-point.

Bill Robertie (1987)
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5-4 Backgammon opening moves

Again, not the best roll. This is what I suggest:

  • Move 13/8 and 24/20

You want to try to own your opponent 5 point by rolling a 4 on your next turn. If you manage to do so, it will give you a way to enter the board again when your oponent brings his checkers home.

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Video Tutorial about backgammon opening Moves

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Conclusion

That’s all for the backgammon opening moves. There are only 15 of them, so it is easy for you to memorize them all so that you  can improve your chance of winning in backgammon.

Now it is time to learn the replies to those backgammon opening moves.

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