Forum Archive : Strategy--Backgames

Which anchors are best?

From:   sebalotek
Date:   12 January 2012
Subject:   Best anchors for strongest backgame?
Forum: Forums

Is there a concise list or ordering of best points one should aim to hold
for a backgame with 4 chequers, i.e., that are more likely to force a shot
at some point?


1-2 = best
3-6 = worst

I'm sure the ordering above is wrong, but is there an existing ordered list
or tutorial?

Casper van der Tak  writes:

Your question cannot be answered in the abstract, because it depends a lot
on your timing (how relatively advanced both sides are), your offensive
structure, and your opponents offensive structure. It also depends on the
match score, if you are playing a match - how bad is losing a gammon, vs
losing normally.

I guess that in practice,

2-3 backgames would play the best.
1-2 is poor,
1-3 OK,
1-4 and 1-5 are quite poor.

2-4, 2-5, 3-4, 3-5 and 4-5 can be OK or good, depends a lot on the
offensive structures, but they can also be bad.

Chuck Bower  writes:

If I may pick a nit, I wouldn't put these two in the same category. The 1-4
is considerably better than the 1-5. It's not as good as the 2-4, to
confirm Trice's contention that points separated by three tend to be worse
than points separated by two.  (See Woolsey's Cube Reference Postions for
some admittedly dated rollout results on some different backgame

Casper van der Tak  writes:

You are correct, 1-5 backgames are really poor, an acepoint game basically
with more checkers back so you lose more gammons. It is better as a holding
game. 1-4 has more backgame prospects and 1-5, that is for sure.

ah_clem  writes:

Walter Trice devotes a chapter to this question in Backgammon Bootcamp. An
excellent book that I'd recommend highly.  The short answer is that there's
no short answer. Some generalities:

* Deep anchors (1-2, 1-3, 2-3) give you more chance to get a late shot, but
  they give you less opportunity to run off the gammon.

* High anchors (5-4 5-3) allow your opponent to dump checkers behind the
  anchors, so they don't produce as many late shots (you're more likely to
  get a shot in the bear-in rather than the bear off), but they give you
  more opportunity to run off the gammon.

* Consecutive anchors (1-2, 2-3) block more rolls and generate more shots.

* Spaced anchors (5-1, 4-1) are usually weak for this reason.

Bottom line is that there's a lot more to back games than "where the anchor
are" -- the position of the other 26 checkers has a lot of impact so it's
not really possible to rank the backgames in this manner.

kruidenbuiltje  writes:

1-2 is not the best backgame, the reason for this is that it is hard to
escape with checkers to recirculate when your opponent has a big prime in
front of it.  You need at least a difference of 84 in pips to have enough
timing.  The opponent can kill 5's and 6's (meaning he doesn't have to play
these numbers when all his checkers are in front of you in a prime).  This
is one of the reasons that you need so many pips in difference.

A 1-3, 2-3, 1-4, 2-4 backgame needs a timing of, respectively, 59, 48, 48,
43.  This is much easier to accomplish.

With all the mentioned backgames you have to wait with hitting until you
have at least a 3-point board, including the 5 and 6-point.  And you should
wait with hitting until the opponent starts breaking his prime.

Other backgames like 3-4, 3-5, 2-5 have a holding game character.  This
means that your timing is usually below 40 pips and any hit can make you go
into a forward-mode or a normal-holding-game.

Here are a few other tips on playing backgames:

1. When you are trying to get more timing by leaving blots, look out for
   being double-hitted, and/or leaving too many blots, it might get you so
   long on the bar that you can't get time to build a good board.

2. When you can't manage to get enough timing, try to switch to a holding

3. Don't waste checkers on the 1 and 2-point of your front-board.

leemo  writes:

As others have said you don't always have the choice of which points to
hold in a backgame, and there are other positional features to consider as
well as how you assess your opponent's ability to bring it home.  But if
you see yourself falling into a backgame or have a choice early on in a
blot hitting contest with you at a disadvantage, try and grab the 3 point.
This is the most versatile backgame point to hold as it gives you a
playable game with all other points.

Something that tends to work for me, though it may be more by luck over
judgement, and comes with the usual caveat that backgammon is a game with
more exceptions than rules:  If you have the luxury of timing in your
backgame, avoid making points in your home board deeper than the 4. Once
this is made, extend your prime at the back not the front. This should give
you greater flexibility for those awkward rolls that tend to come up, and
it also helps by not cramping your op's play after you hit so that he can
enter easily and crash or dislodge another checker. 4-5-6 also allows you
to slot the outside points with impunity to force an escaping checker to
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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