Advanced Backgammon Strategy: The Doubling Cube and When to Use It


In the world of backgammon, the doubling cube is an element that adds layers of complexity and excitement to the game. As a player progresses from a novice to an experienced player, understanding the intricacies of the doubling cube becomes paramount. This article delves into advanced backgammon strategy by examining the doubling cube, focusing on optimal timing for its use and strategies for maximizing its potential. Whether you’re playing casually with friends or competing in high-stakes tournaments, a thorough grasp of the doubling cube is crucial for success.

The Basics of the Doubling Cube

Before we dive into advanced strategies, let’s start with the basics. The doubling cube is a six-sided cube marked with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64. It serves as a multiplier for the stakes of the game. At the beginning of a backgammon match, the doubling cube starts at 1. As the game progresses, players have the option to offer a double, effectively doubling the current stake.

If your opponent accepts the double, the game continues at the new higher stakes. If they decline, they forfeit the game, and you are declared the winner with a score equal to the current value of the doubling cube. Here’s where strategy comes into play.

Optimal Timing for Using the Doubling Cube

1. Consider the Position: The first key aspect of using the doubling cube effectively is to assess the current position. It’s generally not advisable to offer a double when you’re significantly behind in the game, as your opponent is likely to take it, and you’ll be risking a higher stake in a losing position.

2. Pips and Checkers: Analyze the pip count and the distribution of checkers on the board. If you have a favorable position in terms of pips and checkers, it may be a good time to consider doubling.

3. Timing Races: Consider where the game stands in terms of a race. If you’re ahead in the race to bear off your checkers and your position is strong, offering a double can put pressure on your opponent.

4. The Crawford Rule: In match play, remember that the Crawford Rule comes into effect when one player is one point away from winning the match. During this time, the player trailing in the match will often offer early doubles to gain an advantage.

Strategies for Maximizing the Doubling Cube

1. The Art of the Initial Double: It’s important to note that an initial double is often declined because it’s too early in the game. However, if you find yourself in a strong position right from the start, consider making an early double to put pressure on your opponent. Be prepared to accept the risk if they take it.

2. Cube Management: Effective cube management is a crucial aspect of advanced backgammon strategy. Avoid being too predictable with your cube handling. Mix up your doubling decisions to keep your opponent guessing.

3. Reading Your Opponent: Pay attention to your opponent’s body language and playing style. If you sense that they are hesitant or uncertain, it might be a good time to offer a double.

4. The “Beaver” and “Raccoon” Moves: The “beaver” move occurs when you double your opponent, and they immediately redouble (sometimes referred to as “beavering”). The “raccoon” move is when you beaver your opponent’s double. These are advanced tactics used to maximize the cube’s potential and can lead to larger swings in the game’s stakes.

5. Analyzing Cube Efficiency: Consider the gammon value when making doubling decisions. If you’re in a strong position to win a gammon (an extra point when you bear off all your checkers while your opponent has checkers still in play), it’s often a good time to double.


In the game of backgammon, the doubling cube introduces an element of strategy and psychology that distinguishes the novice from the advanced player. To master the art of the doubling cube, it’s essential to understand optimal timing for its use and the various strategies for maximizing its potential.

As you continue to improve your backgammon skills, remember that the doubling cube is a dynamic tool that can create exciting and challenging moments in the game. By assessing your position, reading your opponent, and strategically using the cube, you can take your backgammon game to a higher level of mastery. Advanced players who can effectively manage the doubling cube have a significant edge in this timeless game of skill and strategy.

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