Opening Rolls

Forum Archive : Opening Rolls

Factors to consider

From:   Kit Woolsey
Date:   27 July 1994
Subject:   Re: opening moves

Gerald E Mortensen wrote:
> i have heard that expert opinion has shifted somewhat with respect to
> splitting the back men versus bringing down builders or slotting in
> the opening.  what is the current thinking on these openers
> (references? recent article in Inside Backgammon?) (i know what
> robertie's books say)
> openers (money game, equal opponent -- let's not get into that again!):
> 3 2 ?
> 5 2 ?
> 4 3 ?
> 4 1 ?

My preferences (all other things being equal) are currently;

3-2: 24/21, 13/11
5-2: 13/11, 13/8
4-3: 24/20, 13/10
4-1: 24/23, 13/9

However, all things are usually not equal.  There are several factors to

1) My opponent.  Some opponents have more difficulty playing against a
splitting style, while others will have more difficulty playing against a
slotting and building game.  Thus, I may vary my opening plays accordingly.

2) The state of the match.  This is very important.  The key is that the
player who is ahead in the match wants to avoid gammonish positions since
this gives his opponent more cube leverage.  Thus, he is aiming for races
or mutual holding games, so making an advanced anchor has a higher
priority for him than usual.  The player who is behind wants to go for
the swingier gammonish positions.  For example, let's suppose X is ahead
2 away, 4 away and let's look at the opening roll of 4-3.  X should
definitely not play 13/10, 13/9 -- he should make one of the splitting
plays in order to go after his advanced anchor and aim toward a mutual
holding game where gammons aren't so likely and he can make normal use of
the cube.  On the other hand if O wins the opening 4-3 roll he should
definitely play 13/10, 13/9.  This makes it too dangerous for X to split
the back men, so X will be forced to bring down builders in response and
the game tends toward a priming battle which is what O wants.  This makes
more difference than one might think.

3) Your own personal preference.  There really isn't much difference
between the various ways to play the opening rolls, so go with what you
like and are comfortable with.  Also, try out different things for
learning purposes.  Don't get stuck in one style -- experiment.  For a
couple of years I was advocating playing an opening 5-2 with 13/8, 6/4.
I now believe this isn't a good idea, but by playing it I generated new
types of positions I hadn't seen before and learned quite a bit.

> also assume opponent opened with 4 2 and made the 4 point, money
> game. how do i play 4 4 ?

Play 24/20(2), 13/9(2).  This is usually the best way to play 4-4 in
response to most opening rolls, and against a 4-2 it is very clear.
Locking up the enemy five point cuts down on the value of his having made
your four point, and the nine point gives you a lot of flexibility for
the future.  This one isn't close.

> any other examples of openings or responses where the "correct" play
> has changed recently?

As I have said, there often is no "correct" play.  You have to decide for
yourself what works for you.

Did you find the information in this article useful?          

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


Opening Rolls

At different match scores  (Louis Nardy Pillards, July 2002) 
Average advantage of winning opening roll  (Chuck Bower, Oct 1998) 
Choosing a strategy  (Daniel Murphy, June 2001) 
Early game rule of thumb  (Rich Munitz, Feb 2009) 
Factors to consider  (Kit Woolsey, July 1994) 
How computers play  (Kit Woolsey, Mar 1995)  [Recommended reading]
Magriel's Chapter 5  (Hayden Alfano+, May 2006)  [Long message]
Mloner vs Jellyfish  (Kit Woolsey, Dec 1995) 
Nactating a whole game  (Nack Ballard+, Jan 2011)  [Long message]
Nactation  (Jim Stutz+, June 2010) 
Nactation overview  (Nack Ballard, Oct 2009) 
Nactation--Why use it?  (leobueno+, Jan 2011) 
Opening 1's: Split or slot?  (Douglas Zare, Dec 2003) 
Opening 21: Rollout  (Stick, Mar 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 21: Split or slot?  (Dick Adams+, Dec 2003) 
Opening 32: Rollout  (Stick, Feb 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 43: In GOL online match  (Raccoon+, Feb 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 43: Pros and cons  (Stick+, Jan 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 43: Which split is better?  (Peter Backgren+, Aug 2000) 
Opening 43: Which split is better?  (Michael J. Zehr+, Mar 1996) 
Opening 51: Rollout  (Stick, Feb 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 52: Merits of splitting  (Peter Bell, Apr 1995) 
Opening 53: Magriel's recommendation  (George Parker+, July 1997)  [Long message]
Opening 53: Split to 21?  (Alex Zamanian, Aug 2000) 
Opening 53: Why make the three point?  (Kit Woolsey+, Feb 1996) 
Opening 6's: Slot the bar point?  (Chuck Bower+, Feb 2000) 
Opening 6's: Slot the bar point?  (David Montgomery, June 1995) 
Opening 62: Could running be best?  (Gary Wong, Sept 1997) 
Opening 62: Split, run, or slot?  (Chuck Bower, May 1997) 
Opening 63: Middle Eastern split?  (Mark+, Apr 2002) 
Opening 63: Slot the four point?  (Dennis Cartwright+, Mar 2002) 
Opening 64: Make the two point?  (William Hill+, Jan 1998) 
Opening 64: Make the two point?  (Darse Billings, Feb 1995) 
Opening 64: Rollout  (Peter Grotrian, Jan 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Opening 64: Split to 20?  (Peter Bell, June 1995) 
Opening 64: Three choices  (Brian Sheppard, July 1997) 
Opening 65: Becker on lover's leap  (Jeffrey Spiegler+, Aug 1991) 
Opening 65: Computer rankings  (Chuck Bower, Jan 1997) 
Opening rolls ranked  (Arthur+, Apr 2005) 
Rollouts of opening 21 and replies  (Alexander Nitschke, Oct 1997) 
Rollouts of openings  (Tom Keith+, Jan 2006) 
Rollouts: Expert Backgammon  (Tom Fahland, Aug 1994) 
Rollouts: Jellyfish 3.0  (Midas+, Sept 1997) 
Rollouts: Jellyfish 3.0 level 6  (Chuck Bower, Feb 1999)  [Recommended reading]
Rollouts: Snowie 4.1  (Rene Cerutti, Apr 2004) 
Slotting the four point  (Joe Loria+, Oct 1999) 
Snowie's openers and replies  (rcerutti, Feb 1999)  [Long message]
Splitting versus building  (Dave Slayton+, Aug 2000) 
Splitting versus slotting  (Daniel Murphy, Apr 2001) 
Splitting versus slotting  (Daniel Murphy, Sept 1997) 
Trice's rankings  (Marty Storer, Feb 1992) 

[GammOnLine forum]  From GammOnLine       [Long message]  Long message       [Recommended reading]  Recommended reading       [Recent addition]  Recent addition

  Book Suggestions
Computer Dice
Cube Handling
Cube Handling in Races
Extreme Gammon
Fun and frustration
GNU Backgammon
Luck versus Skill
Magazines & E-zines
Match Archives
Match Equities
Match Play
Match Play at 2-away/2-away
Opening Rolls
Pip Counting
Play Sites
Probability and Statistics
Source Code
Strategy--Bearing Off
Strategy--Checker play


Return to:  Backgammon Galore : Forum Archive Main Page