Understanding the Doubling Cube: A Beginner’s Guide

In the world of Backgammon, the doubling cube is a mysterious and powerful tool that can significantly impact the outcome of a game. For beginners, this cube may seem like an enigmatic object, but understanding its purpose and strategies is essential for mastering the game. In this guide, we will unravel the secrets of the doubling cube in Backgammon, explaining its purpose and the strategies behind its use.

What Is the Doubling Cube?

The doubling cube is a six-sided cube marked with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64. It’s not used as a regular die for moving checkers; instead, it’s a tool to increase the stakes of the game. The cube is typically placed in the center of the board at the beginning of a game, showing the number 64, which represents the initial value of the game.

The Purpose of the Doubling Cube

The primary purpose of the doubling cube is to allow players to raise the stakes of the game when they believe they have a favorable position. By offering a double, they give their opponent the opportunity to accept or decline the increased value of the game. Let’s explore the main objectives and strategies behind using the doubling cube:

1. Increasing the Stakes

The most straightforward use of the doubling cube is to increase the stakes of the game. The numbers on the cube (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64) represent the multiplier by which the game’s value is increased. For example, if a player offers a double to 4, the game’s value becomes four times higher than its initial worth.

2. Challenging Your Opponent

When you offer a double, you challenge your opponent’s assessment of the game’s position. If you believe you have an advantage, you want to make the game worth more. If your opponent accepts the double, they are accepting your assessment and will continue the game at the new, higher stakes.

3. Declining the Double

As the opponent, when you receive a double offer, you have two options: you can accept the double and continue playing at the increased stakes, or you can decline the double and forfeit the current game. This decision is crucial and requires a deep understanding of the game’s position.

4. Strategy and Tactics

Using the doubling cube is not just about raising the stakes; it’s a strategic move. Players consider factors such as their position in the game, the pip count (the total number of spaces needed to bear off all checkers), their position on the board, and the likelihood of winning to decide when to double.

Basic Doubling Cube Strategy

For beginners, it’s essential to start with some basic strategies for using the doubling cube effectively:

1. Timing Matters

The timing of the double is crucial. Don’t double too early when the game is evenly balanced, as your opponent is likely to accept, and the game will continue with a higher stake. Double when you have a clear advantage, such as better board position, more points blocked, or a lead in the race.

2. Position and Pip Count

Consider your position and pip count carefully before doubling. If you’re behind in the race and your checkers are spread out, it’s not the right time to double. On the other hand, if your opponent’s checkers are trapped, and you’re in a dominant position, it’s an ideal time to offer a double.

3. Using the Cube for Leverage

The doubling cube can be a tool to gain leverage in a game. Even if you don’t expect your opponent to accept the double, you can offer it strategically to put pressure on them and alter their decision-making process.

4. Accept or Decline Wisely

As the opponent, carefully analyze the position of the game before deciding whether to accept or decline a double. If you’re in a favorable position and believe you can win, it might be wise to accept the double. However, if you’re behind and the game’s value has increased significantly, it might be better to decline and preserve your equity.

5. Doubling Cube Etiquette

Good sportsmanship and understanding of the game’s etiquette are essential. If you’re confident that you’ve won a game, don’t offer a double just to show off; it’s considered poor form. Only double when you genuinely believe it’s the right strategic move.

Gammons and Backgammons

In addition to the basic concepts of the doubling cube, it’s crucial to understand the potential for gammons and backgammons in Backgammon. These concepts significantly influence doubling decisions:

  • Gammon: A gammon occurs when the losing player has not borne off any checkers and still has checkers in the winner’s home board. When a gammon happens, the game’s value is doubled.
  • Backgammon: A backgammon is an even more significant event. It occurs when the losing player has not borne off any checkers and still has checkers in the winner’s home board and on the bar. A backgammon triples the game’s value.

Gammons and backgammons are pivotal factors in doubling decisions, as they can lead to substantial changes in the game’s worth. When you’re winning a gammon or backgammon, doubling becomes even more appealing.


The doubling cube in Backgammon is not just a tool for raising the stakes; it’s a strategic element that can change the dynamics of the game. As a beginner, understanding when and how to use the doubling cube is a vital aspect of mastering the game. Always consider your position, the pip count, and the potential for gammons and backgammons when making doubling decisions.

With practice and experience, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of how to use the doubling cube to your advantage. Whether you’re offering a double or deciding whether to accept one, the doubling cube adds an exciting dimension to Backgammon, making every game a thrilling strategic challenge.

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