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How to play your first roll

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:16 pm
by admin
If you are just starting out with backgammon, you may wonder what to do with your opening roll.
The moves are standard and easy to remember. Most opening rolls are played the same way by almost everyone.
So let's cover the "obvious" rolls first. These are rolls that make an inner home board point, or make the bar point (the point on the bar outside the homeboard)

These rolls are 3-1, 4-2, 5-3, 6-1 . Play these by making the point that they point on.
3-1 make your "golden" point (5 pt) 8/5 6/5
31a.jpg (36.18 KiB) Viewed 9292 times
4-2 make your 4 pt (8/4 6/4)
42.jpg (35.65 KiB) Viewed 9292 times

5-3 make your 3 pt
53.jpg (35.31 KiB) Viewed 9292 times

6-1 make your bar point
61.jpg (35.96 KiB) Viewed 9292 times

These are all great opening rolls and they get you started strong.

But wait.. what about 6-4, can't we make our 2pt with it?

Yes we can, but it is not normally the optimal play. Your 2 pt is deep and when making your home board points, you generally want to work in from the outer points. There is, however, a particular circumstance when you do want to play 6-4 by making a home board point. That is when you are playing for a gammon. Or to put it another way, when a "gammon" is particularly attractive outcome for the match score. ex you are trailing 4-1 in a 5 pt match post crawford, you have turned the cube and you would LOVE to gammon your opponent :D as that would win you the match right then and there. You can put this theory to the test by using gnubg setup and hint feature.

1. Cubeful 3-ply 8/2 6/2 Eq.: +0.937
0.499 0.155 0.006 - 0.501 0.136 0.006
3-ply cubeful
2. Cubeful 3-ply 24/18 13/9 Eq.: +0.924 ( -0.013)
0.505 0.134 0.006 - 0.495 0.133 0.005
3-ply cubeful
3. Cubeful 2-ply 24/14 Eq.: +0.918 ( -0.019)
0.506 0.124 0.004 - 0.494 0.132 0.005
2-ply cubeful

This is at the match score mentioned above. If the score is 0-0, the best play is a coin flip between 1, 2 and 3

1. Cubeful 4-ply 24/18 13/9 Eq.: +0.012
0.505 0.137 0.007 - 0.495 0.137 0.006
4-ply cubeful prune [4ply]
2. Cubeful 4-ply 8/2 6/2 Eq.: +0.010 ( -0.002)
0.500 0.152 0.007 - 0.500 0.141 0.006
4-ply cubeful prune [4ply]
3. Cubeful 4-ply 24/14 Eq.: +0.005 ( -0.007)
0.507 0.123 0.005 - 0.493 0.135 0.005
4-ply cubeful prune [4ply]

So actually it is not ever a big mistake to make your 2 pt with 6-4. But making an inner point early usually ends up in a mess unless you are committed to a blitz. Then yes, you can make any home point and if the blitz works, you accomplished your goal of gammon.

Re: How to play your first roll 6-5, 6-3, 6-2

Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:01 am
by admin
So if we can't make a home board point, we generally want to get our back checkers (also referred to as runners) get them moving.
With 6-5, we move a back checker all the way to the mid point. This roll has a nickname in backgammon it is "lover's leap".

with 6-3 and 6-2 you want to move a back checker to the bar point, and drop a piece from your midpoint down.

Re: How to play your first roll 5-1 5-2 4-3 4-1

Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:04 am
by admin
Split the back checkers with the 1 or 2, and move the 5 or 4 from your midpoint down.

Re: How to play your first roll 3-2, 2-1

Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:19 am
by admin
Split up the back checkers, and drop one down from the mid point.

The strategy is basically, if you can make a home board point, do it. If not then you must get your back checkers moving early and try for an advanced anchor, and bring down checkers from your midpoint to give you something to work with in building up your home position.

Don''t get hung up on memorizing opening moves. Backgammon is not about memorizing opening sequences :D .. nooo.. Backgammon is about understanding a position that you have never seen before, quickly playing out in your head, the possible ways to play the roll, and by an intuitive gut feeling that has been fine tuned over many years, and thousands upon thousands of games, you make a move that is not a huge blunder, sometimes the best move. The goal is to make fewer mistakes than your opponent. If you can manage that, you will in the long run, win more games.

Re: How to play your first roll

Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:29 am
by admin
Visit the link below for more research on how best to play the openning roll

Re: How to play your first roll

Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:40 am
by Kaelin
Great post, greedyG. I feel like I make so many blunders in the opening of the game and unnecessarily set myself for a lot harder time than it has to be later on.

Re: How to play your first roll

Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:33 pm
by admin
Kaelin wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:40 am
Great post, greedyG. I feel like I make so many blunders in the opening of the game and unnecessarily set myself for a lot harder time than it has to be later on.
Well, to be honest, BG opening moves are not so important like example in chess , since both players are close to 50/50 and the random dice can make any roll go wrong. Only if you miss the most standard roll like 3-1 or 4-2 will you be making a big blunder.

One early game play worth mentioning is how to respond to opponent doubling post crawford. You may have noticed the bot almost always drops a double at certain match scores, if the opponent gets the first roll. Taking a double in that situation will earn a blunder tag.

Another post crawford early game play trick that some player will try on you (bot never does this as it always doubles straight away) is to delay turning the cube as if they forgot and then after a few moves will double. It is referred to as "the trick" in a article you can read it here It is at the bottom of the page below all the boring formula and chart stuff.