Backgammon game types – The High Anchor

In another article we looked at the different game types. This time we will be looking more indepth at the “High Anchor” game. We will discuss the game plan for both players and take a look at the relevant doubling strategies.


The definition of the high anchor is when your checkers are moved back at the very least to your mid point, with your opponent holding your 4, 5 or bar point. The diagram above illustrates this.

The strategy for both players is pretty straight forward. Black is trying to move all of his checkers into his home board without leaving himself open to a shot. If there is no other option but to leave a shot, then it will one on his midpoint after red has moved from his own midpoint, leaving only an indirect shot. (An indirect shot is where a combination of both dice is required to hit). In an ideal situation black would throw doubles and clear his midpoint leaving no shot at all. Red in this position has three objectives, namely ;

  1. Keep the High Anchor
  2. Keep the midpoint as long as it is possible to do so and
  3. Build as strong a home board as possible.

In this situation it is of paramount importance that red does not compromise his home board to keep the midpoint. Building red’s home board should be done in order, ie 6, 5 & 4 points.

The doubling strategy

Black is in a position to double when he has slightly better than the equivalent of a racing double (This is defined as a double based solely on the pipcount). In a pure race black can double with an 8% lead and red can take with up to a 12% deficit. In a typical high anchor position black needs to have a racing lead of about 15% in order to be able to double. High anchor positions are pretty stable as there are very few market losing sequences. Therefore black should try to get to a point where he is very close to red’s take/pass borderline before he does double.

What is a little bit of a surprise is that red can take the double with quite a large deficit in the pip count (up to 50 pips) because as his chances of winning the race are decreasing, his chances of winning by hitting increase.

In the diagram we showed you above the pip count is black 99 versus white 118 so the correct cube action would be for black to double and red to take black up on it. As noted above red can be far worse off in the pip count and still have be able to take the double. In the diagram below we have changed the position somewhat to illustrate this point:


Now black is leading by 42 pips but red still is able to take the double. Note that red is in this example doing the correct thing by buildng a prime. If this was not the case red would have to pass up the double.

As in any backgammon game, a small change can lead to a big difference in doubling strategy. Below we have given black his bar point and red his four (4) point.


This change has much more effect on black than red. 2 landing points means that black is in a much better position than the previous example. In this case red taking the double becomes a borderline decision instead of a clear one.


  • Easily played by both players
  • Strategies involved are easily learned
  • Difficult to make any major mistakes

As in many types of backgammon game, the doubling strategy of each player is the key. Learn your opponents doubling habits and play to them.