The importance of the opening

A usual trick question that arises when you are learning how to play is “What position is the most common to come up in backgammon?”The answer is inevitably the starting position. Since this position is the one that comes out the most frequently when playing this game it is quite important that you really know how to play the most optimum moves for each possible roll that comes up – more than in any other position.

The most optimum play for each particular roll will change depending on what the score of the match, the strength or the style used by the opponent or even the accompanying circumstances or for the particular situation.

Let us first discuss what you should do if you are faced with an opening 32. What is the best possible play for this?

There are actually 17 legal ways of playing an opening 32. About half of them have actually probably been tried by a player at some point in time during one of his games.

As an opening roll, you should avoid stacking as much as possible. Doing this would eliminate a 13/8, or any play that would move a two from the 87pt to the already tall 6pt.

Moves that would use the deuce to slot the 4pt or the three to slot the 5pt actually had a brief stint of popularity in the late 70s as well as in the 80s but these moves were shot down.

This would actually leave you with four very good best moves for an opening 32. These are: 1. 32-down: Both midpoint checkers (13/11, 13/10).

2. 32-split: A back checker 3, and a midpoint checker 2 (24/21, 13/11).

3. 32-reverse-split: A back checker 2, a midpoint checker 3 (24/22, 13/10).

4. 32-up: Both back checkers (24/22, 24/21).

The opening rolls in backgammon act quite similar in concept to the opening in chess. If you start badly in a a chess game then you take these disadvantages with you into the middlegame and endgame. In backgammon too then a bad start can manifest itself into middlegame and endgame disadvantages. This is why many players that play the game very strongly play aggressively to try and get an advantage in the early stages of the game.

As a rule a good sign of a strong backgammon player is in how aggressively they try to forge an advantage in the early parts of the game while a novice is more concerned with leaving everything safe. Remember that a backgammon game isn’t jut decided on one the outcome of a single game but over a large series of them.

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