Opening Moves 2009

Opening Moves 2009

By Phil Simborg



With the help of the modern computer programs, there is now little doubt or debate about opening moves.  If you want to play at the highest odds, you simply must make these moves. 


Here’s the latest (as of 2009).


6-5    run a back checker

6-4    There are 3 acceptable plays.  You can make your two point; you can run a back checker all the way out to your 14 point; I prefer runnint a back checker out to your opponent’s bar (24-18), and then bring down one checker off your midpoint (13-9). 

6-3    There are two plays:  you can run a checker all the way off your 24 point; I prefer to  run to your opponent’s bar and bring one down from your midpoint.

6-2    Two plays:  run all the way; I prefer running to your opponent’s bar and bring one down 13-11.

6-1  Make your bar

5-4    Two plays:  move a back checker up (24-20) and bring one down (13-8), or bring two down from the midpoint (13-8, 13-9).  Most of the time it is right to play 24-20.

5-3    Make your 3 point

5-2    Two plays:  I prefer to move a back checker 2 (24-22) and bring one down (13-8), or bring two down (13-8, 13-11)

5-1    Generally, it is right to split the back checker and bring one down (24-23, 13-8). 

4-3    This move has the most possible variation, depending on score, but generally, the experts agree bringing 2 down from your 13 is the best play most of the time.  (Generally, 2-down is better for winning gammons, and splitting is better for saving gammons.)

4-2    Make your 4 point.

4-1    Generally, it is right to split the back checker and bring one down (24-23, 13-9), but it is not a bad gambling play, when gammons are key, to bring one down and slot your 5 point.

3-2    This play also has many variations, but generally the experts agree that the best play is to bring you back checker up 3 (24-21) and bring a 2 down from the midpoint (13-11).  I prefer to bring two down from the 13 point.

3-1    Make your 5 point

2-1    Two possibilities:  split your back checkers (24-23) and bring one down (13-11); I prefer to play 13-11 6-5 and slot my 5 point.



The match score affects many of these opening moves, and the greatest difference depends on whether it is important to win or save gammons at a particular score. 



While it is important to know all the right opening moves, to quote backgammon master David Rockwell, IT IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHY each move is best.  When you understand why, for each score of a match, you will remember the right move better, but that will also help you with successive moves that you have not memorized, and it will help you with many of your moves throughout the rest of the game.  The reason why you make one move at one score and another at another score is tied into your overall goals and strategy for that game, and these are important considerations for every move you make. 


If you would like further coaching on these moves, and the next moves, feel free to contact me at