Ace-Point Games

Bear EssentialsBackgammon for Beginners Fran Goldfarb, 1982

 From Backgammon Times, Volume 2, Number 4, Fall 1982.

Bearing in and off against opposition looks deceptively simple, but it's not. How many games have you lost by leaving a shot and how many gammons has your opponent saved because you played too safely?

Ace point games come up so often that it's important to learn how to bear in and off correctly against them.

 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Black to play 2-1.

In the above position, Black has a 2-1 to play. Lots of choices, but what's the key to finding the right play? The key is missing in order to show you what some players see as they bear in—only half the board.

Many beginners, once they get to the bear in or bear off, lose visual contact with the areas of the board they've just escaped from. Your play should be dictated by your opponent's timing, so looking at the whole board is your first priority.

In the following diagrams, Black has the same position with a 2-1 to play. With careful attention to the opponent's position, try to find the correct plays and the reasons behind them.

 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Position A.
Black to play 2-1.
If Black can stall for a roll or two, White's board should crack, giving little hope for the future, 12/10, 8/7 accomplishes this and also leaves no bad numbers for at least one roll.

 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Position B.
Black to play 2-1.
Since White's board is already destroyed, Black can try to force White out with a six in order to close out one or two checkers. Black wins more gammons at little risk. Here the play 7/6, 7/5 works best.

 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Position C.
Black to play 2-1.
With White's board in such a sorry state, a big play is called for to try for a gammon. By playing 7/4, Black forces White to hit with a six. Black hopes to pick up more checkers and gammon White.

These positions demonstrate how important the opponent's position is in deciding plays. A continuous awareness of the whole board is crucial for winning—it is one of the bare essentials of backgammon.

 More articles by Fran Goldfarb More articles on ace-point games Return to:  Backgammon Galore