There are three steps that should be taken EVERY time it is your turn to play:
Thinking about these three things, in the above order, should become second nature. Kent Goulding One sportsman who was brilliant at playing against weak opposition was Graeme Hick. Hick was a wonderful cricketer and one of the leading batsmen of his generation, but he was plagued throughout his career by fans and journalists calling him a ‘flat track bully’. In other words, against modest opposition and on a calm batting surface he was spectacularly good. He once famously scored a quadruple century for Worcestershire against Somerset. (For those of you who don’t follow cricket, this is a rare achievement that happens only once in a very long while). However, when he was playing in international cricket against the best spin bowlers on tricky batting services, Graeme consistently underperformed.
In backgammon, as you get more confident, you can become something of a flat track bully yourself. In other words, when playing against an inexperienced opponent, you can take advantage of him by offering aggressive doubles and getting away with overly confident moves. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it won’t stand up in a big tournament against seasoned opponents. When you meet your match, you’ll quickly lose out if you don’t use a smart game plan and make too many risky decisions.
Play the player, but be smart about it. Here are top backgammon tips to help you play the game in a clever way.
In fact, if you do any of these things, you are making a blunder… because there is an even better move! That is to make your opponent’s 5-point. With your opponent having moved his backmarkers, and given the number of blots you’ve left in his back yard, making his 5-point underpins your game.
Remember, the best move the one is not necessarily the one you spotted first. Top players don’t get excited when they first see a good move; they pause and look around to see what else is available. Then they weigh up the various choices before deciding what’s best.
‘Backgammon is like war,’ Phil says. ‘You are fighting for territory.’
When you are outnumbered and out-gunned, you dig in and await reinforcements or for things to get better. But when you are the one on the attack and you have more troops (checkers), this is not the time to wait and give your opponent a chance to breathe. As Phil charmingly says, ‘When he’s having trouble breathing, step on his windpipe!’
Hindsight isn’t always a wonderful thing. Often, even when you do the right thing you still get punished for it. This is true both in backgammon and in life! But this is one of the reasons people love the game; it’s so unpredictable. However, if you do make a move that is correct and then doesn’t work out for you, don’t beat yourself up over it or waste time wishing you’d done something differently. You know that, statistically, in different circumstances that move would have paid off for you. Don’t let your mind trick you into thinking otherwise. Likewise, you might sometimes make the wrong play and it works beautifully. Be honest with yourself about this and don’t take away a misguided lesson.
In this example you where you have one checker at the back you will win only about 18% of the time, but if you had had two checkers your chances would have risen to around 30%.
Phil Simborg told me that there are five reasons why you should never complain about the dice: