Forum Archive : Strategy--Backgames

Which anchors are best?

From:   Jerry Weaver
Date:   28 April 1998
Subject:   Backgame Question
Google:   6i5jqk$jtb$

In the 1974 book How Good Are You At Backgammon, the authors Nicolaos and
Vassilios Tzannes rate the backgames as follows:  1 and 3 points, 1 and 2
points, 2 and 3 points, 2 and 4 points, 3 and 4 points, 1 and 4 points, 3
and 5 points.

I was under the impression that the 1 and 2 points was not a good backgame
position.  Could the experts please give their opinions on how the
different backgames rank?

Jerry Weaver

TC Hathaway  writes:

The problem with ace point backgames is your opponent can often leave
men on the bar point and thus be unable to play sixes, and very possibly
wreck your timing.  When it is a 1,2 backgame, this applies to fives as
well.  The good part is, of course, he can't play behind you.
But, generally speaking, you'll take whatever backgame you can get.
Usually by the time you're committed to it, there's not much time or
room for adjustment.
BTW one of the nice things about "one-pointers" is backgames are much
more playable:  you never have to drop & you have no gammon worries.


Julian Hayward  writes:

One feature of the 2-3 backgame which makes it relatively strong is that
if your opponent holds a prime in front of you, sixes force him to break
from the middle of the prime, which results in many more shots than
clearing points in order. 1-2 backgames are the pits - in that not only
can your opponent have no sixes, but as soon as he clears the 8 point he
has no fives to play either, which really blows your timing.

Julian Hayward        'Booles' on FIBS  

Bob Hoey  writes:

I personally prefer the 2-4 backgame as my  first option, followed by
1-3, 2-3 and 1-4.  If the 5 pt is held, I don't even consider it a
backgame, but a "holding game".  It is merely a semantic issue, however
and makes little difference what it is called.

Holding the ace point in backgames is closely associated with being
gammoned.  I believe that a 2-4 backgame will yeild nearly an equal number
of shots as the leading player comes home and is force to break.  If those
shot are missed, then the opportunity to "run for your life" to avoid
being gammoned is presented sooner and there is a shorter distance to run.

In a 1-3 backgame, it can be argued that the opponent cannot play behind
you, as in a 2-4 situation, but that is not really accurate since bearing
off is a form of playing behind the point.  Someone else's post indicated
that with the ace point being held, the leading player my be able to kill
6's, if his only outfield men are on the bar.  If the player has   two men
on the bar, then 5's become a bad number for them and double 5's will
often generate an immediate shot and/or a gap which presents other

If none of this is convincing, then I have to admit that it is a gut
feeling that leads to my preferences.


JC  writes:

I think that the 1-2 backgame is more likely to result in your being
gammoned, or even backgammoned, but also more likely to win, and (depending
on your timing) to even win a gammon if you get lucky and get a shot (or
double shot) while your opponent is trying to bear in the last few men, if
your timing is good.

So if it's the last game in a match ( a 1 point game) and gammons don't
count, you take the 1-2 if your timing can support it, as you don't care
about losing a gammon or a backgammon.  Otherwise, you might prefer the 1-3
or 2-3 because you have fewer gammon/backgammon losses.  Remember "most
likely to *win*" doesn't equal "best equity".

Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     



After an early blitz attempt  (Daniel Murphy, Apr 1997) 
But they're so much fun!  (Laury Chizlett+, Oct 2000) 
Checker problem  (David Montgomery+, May 1995) 
Defending against a backgame  (KL Gerber+, Jan 2003)  [Long message]
Defending against a backgame  (Michael J. Zehr, Jan 1995) 
How many men back?  (Brian Sheppard, July 1997) 
Play for a backgame from the start?  (Alan Webb+, Dec 1998) 
What is a backgame?  (Daniel Murphy, Apr 2001) 
When to double  (David Montgomery, May 1995) 
Which anchor is best?  (Kit Woolsey, July 1996) 
Which anchor to break  (Brian Sheppard, May 1997) 
Which anchors are best?  (sebalotek+, Jan 2012) 
Which anchors are best?  (Adam Stocks, Apr 2002) 
Which anchors are best?  (Mary Hickey, Mar 2001) 
Which anchors are best?  (Jerry Weaver+, Apr 1998) 
Which anchors are best?  (Chuck Bower, Jan 1997) 
Which anchors are best?  (Marc Gray, Nov 1995) 

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