Brown trails yellow 2-3/7 and faces a difficult early game decision with this 6-3 roll. There are many excellent choices for brown that must be compared and contrasted. Before addressing the candidate plays and their respective merits, it is important to consider some important themes that often dictate early game checker plays.
- Hitting is generally good as it often takes away half of the opponent’s roll to enter from the bar and gains in the race.
- Priming points inhibit the advancement and flexibility of the opposing checkers
- Unstacking heavy points (those with four or five checkers) is important in the early game to create greater diversification and opportunities to use those checkers to secure important blocking points.
- Securing inner board points enhances the effectiveness of putting your opponent’s checkers on the bar and limits their re-entry.
- Getting the back checkers moving toward an escape or in position for an advanced anchor
Now let’s looks at some of the plausible alternatives with this 6-3.
- 24/21*/15: This play hits a yellow checker while escaping a back checker and landing it safely on the blot on the 15-point.
- 15/9,13/10: A very tidy play that eliminates all of brown’s vulnerable blots. However, it does not result in hitting any of yellow’s checkers and fails to put brown’s back checkers into motion.
- 9/3*, 6/3: This is an attractive option that unstacks the heavy six-point and directly points on yellow’s checker on the 3-point securing a second inner board point.
- 13/7,10/7: The bar point is an important asset, but it leaves too many blots exposed without hitting a yellow checker in the process.
- 24/21*,9/3*: It is always a good idea to look for double-hitting opportunities as it puts your opponent in reactive mode on the bar with few creative alternatives. In this case it results in too many exposed blots.
- 24/21*, 15/9: This play is perfectly situated in the “goldilocks zone” of early game strategy. It activates a back checker and hits a yellow checker for a substantial gain in the race. It also safely secures the 9-point which has excellent future priming potential.
A detailed analysis by extreme gammon confirms that this play emerges as the clear winner among a field of healthy alternatives, and results in the best match winning chances for brown.
Frank is a two-time winner of the Backgammon World Championship in Monte Carlo and current holder of the title. He is a strategic consultant for professional sports teams, and within the sports betting and gaming industries. His work in decision science, critical thinking and sports analytics has been featured in many major news media outlets including ESPN, NFL Network, the New York Times, Fox Sports, Esquire, the Ringer and Showtime. He proudly serves as the co-director of the San Diego Backgammon Club.