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Deciding Not to Use the Doubling Cube in Backgammon

Author: Neha Agrawal

The special feature of Backgammon which makes it unique from other games is the doubling cube. But there are certain games and situations in matches when the doubling cube may not be a good choice for a player even if you have what seems to be a much better position.

There are two main reasons for this. One of these is the Gammon rule. If you’re new to the game and not familiar with this feature, a gammon occurs when you win the game-that is, bear off all your checkers-before your opponent bears off any of his. If you win with a gammon, you automatically win double the points or whatever the stakes may be.

If such a result seems likely, there is no need to use the doubling cube. If you do, that offer will almost certainly be turned down by your opponent, resulting in just a single win. By using the cube, you haven’t doubled your winnings, you’ve cut them in half.

The other time when offering the doubling cube in Backgammon makes no sense is at the end of a match. If one more win would give you the points needed for a match victory, then clearly there is no need for the doubling cube even if you’re in what seems to be a very good position. All it would do is give your opponent a chance to double his score if luck suddenly came to him and he managed to pull out the game.

A game in which neither player needs the doubling cube is in the last possible game of a match when both players need just one regulation game victory to win. In this situation, the game will be played the way Backgammon was conducted until the 1920s when the doubling cube was first invented.

For some players, playing a game of Backgammon without use or need of a doubling cube could change their style. The strategy of using the doubling cube is such a big part of the way the game is played nowadays that its absence may leave some players a bit lost. They usually know just when to spring it on their opponent, but when it’s not a factor in a game, it requires a bit of an adjustment. Keep in mind, though, that the game of Backgammon is still the same, even if the strategy and the finish of the game become a little different.