Lesson of the Week-Early Game Play

In the early game, when we have a choice to make with our checker play, we should generally concentrate on three questions:

1.  Can I hit?
2.  Can I make a point?
3.  Can I safety checkers?

What's really interesting about the above, is that is also, "generally," the order of importance.  With few exceptions, in the early game, if you can hit you should.  And if you can hit or make a point, you are usually right to hit.  And you might well consider just playing safely, but only if you cannot hit or make a point.  Playing too safely in the early game often forces you to take chances later in the game.  Later in the game, your opponent's board is likely to be better and getting hit is likely to be more damaging to you.

Take a look at the three examples below.  In each case, the priority is in keeping with the above order.

Here you hit instead of making a point or safetying checkers.

Here you make a point rather than just play safe

Here you can't hit, you can't make a point, so bring your checkers to safety.