Backgammon Mid-Game Strategies

The middle phase of backgammon is usually the longest. It starts after the first four or five rounds, then continues until players are near the point of becoming deadlocked. Most doubling and roll-overs occur during the mid-phase.

It is the most difficult stage of backgammon, where experience pays off. Consider these mid-game moves:

For every move in the middle phase, identify each alternative move

Decide whether to hit an opponent's blot, make a point for your blockade or elsewhere, bring your checkers into position to make a point or move a runner. Your preference should usually be in that order of priority.

If you have man on the bar, you have to enter it first. Also decide whether to use your roll-over for each bad roll that you or your opponent make.

Start giving priority to escaping with runners by the fifth roll

Though top priority should be given to building a blockade, start focusing on escaping with your runners by your fifth roll, especially if your opponent has built a four-point blockade. Try to escape with at least one of your runners before your opponent has a five-point blockade because it can be tough to get past.

It is impossible to get past a prime so you'll almost certainly lose the game if you get trapped behind a prime. If your opponent has not built a four-point blockade, don't worry too much about your runners except to split them with a 1 or 2 roll.

Try to hold onto your opponent's 12-point as long as possible.

You're more likely to escape safely with your runners if you still own the opponent's 12-point. It provides a safe landing spot for your runners, a good place to build your blockade and a safe spot for shooters to hit opponent's blots in your outer board. Don't reduce the 12-point to two checkers earlier than necessary.

The “hit and run” can be an effective move.

In the “hit and run,” you hit an opponent's blot with one of your checkers, then move that checker to safety. It can be particularly effective in your inner board where it's too dangerous to leave a shot.

Enter a checker from the bar onto lowest possible point.

It's usually best to enter a checker from the bar onto the lowest possible point in your opponent's inner board. On a low point, the checker is safer and has better shots at opponent's blots on his inner board.

Enter the checker onto the 1-point or 2-point unless you can hit an opponent's blot, cover it on a higher point or need to escape quickly.

When behind in a game, give priority to an opponent's 4, 5 or 7-point

  • It makes it easier to escape from your opponent's inner board.
  • It prevents your opponent from making his 4-, 5- or 7-point.
  • It provides a safe landing spot in your opponent's board. Having an anchor in your opponent's inner board reduces your chance of being gammoned.
  • It increases your chance of hitting a blot in your opponent's outer board.

When more than 1 roll behind, stay back to hit rather than run.

When significantly behind, keep one or two men back in your opponent's board to hit your opponent and take the lead. If you have built a strong blockage, you stand a good chance of winning when you hit a checker.

If you run instead with your back checker or checkers when way behind, you'll most likely lose the race and the game. On the other hand, try to bring your back checker or checkers to safety and turn the game into a race if you're ahead in the game.

Take a chance to win a gammon or backgammon if it doesn't significantly reduce chance of winning the game.

If you take a chance to win a gammon, you must win at least two gammons per game you lose as a result of taking the risk for it to be worthwhile.

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