In backgammon you need to be able to alter your play in a blink. Occasionally you will have to restrain yourself from attacking and build your game, other times you’ll need to attack full steam. In the very beginning of the game you need to be aggressive, fast and straightforward. If you can reach your early game targets it’ll help you a lot later.
The early game targets
1. Make points in the homeboard
There are two reasons why this is important. First, it will mess your upponent’s game by limiting his chances to enter from the bar if you hit his checker. If you make to additional points his chances are much worse to get back to the game than if you would have only the six-point. Second, by making points in your home board also means that you those checkers are already ready for bearing off when the time comes.
Please remember that some points are more important than others. If you maneuver your checkers to the edge of the board or very close to it you limit yourself as to which checkers you can move. On your home board the most important points are the 5-point, then 6 and 4-point and then the 3-point in this order.
If you are unable to make points in your homeboard, make points as near to the homeboard as possible. If you manage to block points 7 through 12 you’ll see how difficult it is for your opponent to escape his back checkers. In addition, making any points between 7 and 12 are excellent storage points for bringing the checkers in to your home board.
2. Escape your back men
While you are attacking and building points in and near your home board you shouldn’t forget about your back men. If you do, a few turns later they might’ve got blocked or the distance to the rest of your checkers could be very long and therefore the escape can become a very risky one and could easily cost you the game. Therefore, from the beginning, move your back checkers up slowly towards your home board. Try to keep them in relative proximity to the rest of the checkers.
Doubles are very good for bringing the back men towards your home board. Use half of the roll for that purpose and use the other half making points somewhere else. Sometimes you will be rolling combinations that doesn’t allow you to move both of your checkers well. In that case split your back men. This can be a little risky but if you play safe you’ll never be a real backgammon winner. As soon as you can, bring your back men again together.
You are doing yourself a big favour if you maintain your focus and work hard towards your early game goals. If you don’t you’ll soon find yourself firefighting problems after one another and that’s the type of game you most certainly will lose. So stay calm, and don’t let things distract you from what matters in the early phases of the game.