A great backgammon lesson – Part 1

The game position below makes for a very good backgammon lesson. White is behind 0 to 1 in a first to 3 match and has rolled 5 & 4 with the dice.

Do you know the correct play in this situation ?


The Snowie backgammon software will tell you that the correct play is to make opponents 5 point and hit the checker on your 24 point. Other possible options are, making the opponents 5 point and hitting the 3 or creating your own 3 point.

Understanding the logic behind the play is more important than making the correct decision.

To hit the checker on the 3 point may force Black back and start a fairly useful point and of course it does not leave you with a single checker on the opponents 1 point. Is this play worth the chance of getting a checker sent all the way back. This type of play is one where the Magriel Safe vs Bold criteria come into play.

There are 4 tactical and 2 strategic considerations the you have to be aware of.


  • Have you established a forward anchor point ?
  • Just how strong is the opponents inner board position ?
  • What is the strength of your own inner board ?
  • Has your opponent left any blots in his inner board that you can return hit should you get hit back yourself ?


  • Consider how many checkers you have back. Will getting more checkers back help, disadvantage, or have no effect on your long term position ?
  • Consider how many checkers the opponent has back. If it is only one then a more attacking play is called for.

I would take into account the following ;

  • The score of the game – What is the effect of getting a gammon or getting gammoned ?
  • The position of the doubling cube and its influence – What is the effect of getting doubled or being able to double oneself on the game ?

Looking at all these aspects of this sample position would have us agree with Snowie that hitting the checker on the ‘ace’ point is the correct play to make.