Effective Use of the Crawford Rule: Strategies for the Match-Point Game


In the world of backgammon, understanding the rules and strategies for different game scenarios is crucial for success. The Crawford Rule is one such element of backgammon that can significantly impact your gameplay in match-point situations. By knowing how to utilize the Crawford Rule to your advantage, you can make strategic decisions that increase your chances of winning the match. In this article, we will explore the Crawford Rule, its application, and strategies for the match-point game. Whether to take risks or play conservatively is a key consideration when using this rule effectively.

1. Understanding the Crawford Rule

The Crawford Rule is a fundamental rule in backgammon tournaments. It comes into play when one player is one point away from winning the match. At this stage, the Crawford Rule stipulates that the following game is played without the option to double. This rule prevents the player who is behind from immediately doubling to two points, forcing a more equitable chance for both players.

2. To Risk or Not to Risk: That Is the Question

In match-point situations with the Crawford Rule, players often face the dilemma of whether to take risks or play conservatively. The decision depends on various factors, including the score, position, and your opponent’s style. Here’s how to make informed choices:

3. When to Take Risks

  • Trailing in the Match: If you’re behind in the match, it’s usually necessary to take risks. You need to play aggressively to increase your chances of winning the game and forcing a tie or a comeback.
  • Positional Advantage: If you have a strong position with many potential gammons (double wins), it might be worth taking risks. The Crawford Rule prohibits doubling, but gammons can still boost your chances.
  • Opponent’s Weakness: If your opponent is less experienced or makes frequent blunders, taking risks can capitalize on their mistakes and increase your winning potential.

4. When to Play Conservatively

  • Leading in the Match: If you’re ahead in the match, playing conservatively is often the better choice. You aim to secure the single point needed to win the match while minimizing risks.
  • Safety First: If you have a vulnerable position or exposed checkers, it’s wise to play conservatively to ensure your safety and avoid gammons.
  • Opponent’s Style: If your opponent is known for aggressive play, a conservative approach can disrupt their strategy and reduce their chances of winning the game.

5. Post-Crawford Scenarios

After the Crawford Rule game, the match returns to normal, allowing both players to double. If the trailing player wins the Crawford game, they now have a chance to stage a comeback in the match. The leading player must be cautious and consider their cube strategy after the Crawford Rule.

Sample Scenario: The Comeback Gammon

You’re trailing in a match, and the Crawford Rule is in effect. You have a strong blitz position with your opponent’s checkers on the bar, and it’s a gammonish position. In this scenario, you choose to take calculated risks, aiming for a gammon win. Your aggressive play pays off, and you win the game with a gammon, tying the match and gaining momentum for a potential comeback.


The Crawford Rule is a pivotal element of backgammon, especially in match-point situations. It dictates whether you can double, creating a unique set of strategies and decisions for both players. The key to effective use of the Crawford Rule lies in assessing the match score, position, and your opponent’s style to determine whether to take risks or play conservatively. By making informed choices, you can optimize your chances of winning the match and achieving success in the exciting world of backgammon. Remember, backgammon is a game of strategy and psychology, and the Crawford Rule is just one more layer of complexity that makes the game both challenging and rewarding.

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