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Point Makers are Your Best Friends in Backgammon

Author: Neha Agrawal

The moves in backgammon are put into three categories: point makers, builders and runners. Of these three, the point makers are clearly the ones you want. The term means that the roll of the two dice lets you move checkers to new locations that create a new point.

Since the setup of the backgammon board at the start of the game has no blots, your goal is not to get any of your pieces to safety nor to hit any of your opponent’s blots. The goal is to create more points, especially on your opponent’s home board.

Of the fifteen possible rolls which can open a backgammon game, there are five which are point makers. The best opening roll is a 3-1. The moves virtually every backgammon player makes when they get this roll is to move a checker from point 8 to point 5 and another checker from 6 to 5.

With these backgammon moves, not only have you created a new point, but you have done it on your opponent’s home board, The term for this in the game is creating an “anchor.” When the anchor is on your opponent’s points from 20-24, it’s known as an “advanced anchor.”

There are multiple advantages to creating an advanced anchor. You block your opponent from occupying that point. Perhaps more importantly, you create a safe spot for any one of your checkers that have to come off the bar.

The next best roll would be a 6-1 and the basic strategy for these numbers is the same as it was for the 3-1 roll. You move one chip from point 13 to point 7, then move another from point 8 to point 7. You have created another point without creating a blot of your own. And it is in your opponent’s half of the board on what is known as the “bar point” since it is next to the bar. Not only will it work as a blocker for any opponent piece trying to get close to their home board, it will also prevent your opponent from moving his checkers from his point 24 to that point.

A 4-2 will also create a new point in your opponent’s home board. Move one checker from 8 to 4 and one from 6 to 4. The only reason these moves are not quite as good as the 3-1 is that the block has a gap between 4 and 6. This gives the opponent more options to escape from the bar.

Two other opening Backgammon rolls are also point makers, a 5-3 and a 6-4. On a 5-3, the checkers are moved to the three point, while the 6-4 moves two to the 2 point.

As the game progresses, the strategy may change as your opponent moves his pieces around. But for the opening, you want to roll one of these point makers. They will get your Backgammon game off to a very good start.