Backgammon Opening Moves: Perfecting Your Start for a Strong Midgame


In the world of backgammon, the opening moves are the building blocks upon which your entire game is constructed. A solid opening sets the stage for a strong midgame position, while a weak start can lead to trouble down the road. In this article, we will explore the art of perfecting your backgammon opening moves, discussing key strategies such as the optimal distribution of checkers and anchor placement. Mastering these fundamental concepts will give you a competitive edge and increase your chances of success in the game of backgammon.

1. Distribution of Checkers: The 24-Point and 13-Point

One of the most critical aspects of the opening move in backgammon is the distribution of your checkers on the board. The ideal setup aims to establish two key anchor points: the 24-point and the 13-point.

  • The 24-Point: Placing two checkers on your 24-point is a fundamental move. It not only prepares your checkers for the eventual bear-off but also helps secure your home board. This anchoring point will become a crucial foundation for your midgame strategy.
  • The 13-Point: Placing five checkers on your 13-point complements your 24-point setup. It positions your checkers in the midgame zone, allowing for easy movement and control of the board. The 13-point serves as a pivot point for your future game plan.

2. The Five-Point: A Balanced Start

A well-rounded opening move involves slotting your five-point with a checker from your 24-point. This move offers several advantages:

  • Balanced Distribution: Slotting the five-point balances your checkers across the board, reducing the risk of leaving gaps in your formation.
  • Flexibility: By slotting the five-point, you set the stage for creating a point in your home board, which can be crucial in building a strong defense and blocking your opponent’s checkers.
  • Attacking Potential: Slotting the five-point also positions your checker to hit your opponent’s blot, should the opportunity arise.

3. Anchor Strategies: Securing Your Position

Anchors play a pivotal role in backgammon, particularly during the opening moves. Securing these points is essential for a strong midgame position. Here are two common anchor strategies:

  • The 20-Point Anchor: Placing one checker on your 20-point can provide a solid anchor. This anchor helps protect your home board and provides a safe haven for your checkers.
  • The 18-Point Anchor: Alternatively, you can opt for the 18-point anchor by placing one checker there. This position serves as a strong defensive anchor and can be a valuable asset as the game progresses.

4. Prime Building: A Midgame Foundation

While the opening moves primarily focus on anchor points, it’s essential to have an eye on prime-building opportunities. Creating a prime involves building a wall of checkers to trap your opponent’s checkers behind a blockade, making it challenging for them to escape. Key points to consider in prime-building are:

  • Point Control: Concentrate on controlling your 5-point and 4-point as the game progresses. Building these points can help you construct a strong prime.
  • Timing: Be aware of the timing of your prime-building moves. Building a prime too early may leave gaps that your opponent can exploit, while building it too late may give your opponent a lead.
  • Pressure Your Opponent: A well-timed prime can put pressure on your opponent, forcing them into more challenging positions and making it difficult for them to navigate the board.

Sample Scenario: Optimal Opening Move

Let’s consider an opening move scenario. You roll a 6-3, which allows you to move one checker from your 24-point to your 18-point. This setup anchors your position and creates a solid midgame foundation. Subsequently, you can work on building your 13-point, which would complement your 18-point anchor and create opportunities for prime-building.


Perfecting your opening moves in backgammon is the first step towards a strong midgame position. The distribution of your checkers and the establishment of anchor points are crucial elements of your strategy. A well-balanced opening setup provides flexibility, control, and the potential for building a strong prime. By mastering these fundamental concepts and consistently applying them to your game, you can gain a significant advantage in the early stages of the match and set the stage for a successful midgame and endgame performance.

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