When Playing Backgammon in a Tournament: Doubling Strategies Based on the Score
In a backgammon tournament with a 9-point match, if you are leading 8-7, it is not advisable to double your opponent. Winning by 9-7 or 10-7 has no difference in the outcome, but doubling your opponent increases the risk. If your opponent wins, they will jump to 9 points and become the winner of the match.
On the other hand, if you are behind with a score of 7-8, you should double your opponent at the first opportunity, which is right at the beginning of the game. Losing this game means you are out of the tournament, so putting early pressure on your opponent increases the chances of them making an error and gives you a better chance of winning the match.
If the score is 7-5 in favor of your opponent, and they double you, and you accept the double, it’s recommended to re-double them to 4 on your next turn. There’s nothing to lose in this situation. If you don’t win, you have lost the match, so force your opponent to either concede the game and give you 2 points or play for 4 points. A re-double of this nature can be very disconcerting for your opponent.
Backgammon Tournament Strategy: The Crawford Rule and Doubling Carefully
In backgammon tournaments, the doubling cube can sometimes allow the losing player to snatch victory from a stronger opponent, particularly if combined with a lucky backgammon. To address this, the Crawford rule was created and is now commonly used. This rule states that when a player is one point away from winning, the doubling cube cannot be used in that game. After the game, the cube can be used as normal. This gives the player close to victory a safer game where their opponent cannot use a wild double to steal the match.
In an elimination match, players should handle the doubling cube with great care and weigh the consequences of an immediate re-double before using it. If leading the match, players should be cautious and double as little as possible. If losing, the doubling cube can be used more freely. The winner of the match must play with greater caution and may frequently refuse a double to avoid a 2-point loss. When the opponent needs only 2 points to win, hesitation to double is advised as a lost game in this situation results in losing the match.
Backgammon Tournament Strategy: When to Refuse Doubles
When playing against a less skilled opponent, it’s wise to refuse doubles that rely on lucky situations. For instance, in a running game where the players have no contact and the outcome is determined by the fickle dice, it’s better to refuse the double. Although accepting the double might be the right choice when playing for money, in a tournament, it’s not worth risking two vital points on the luck of the dice. Instead, it’s best to accept doubles where superior skill can give you an advantage.
In end game play, it’s important to never accept doubles if your chances of winning are much below 50%. When playing for money, you might accept these doubles to minimize your losses. However, in a knockout tournament, you can only lose once, so it’s better to refuse doubles where probability is not on your side.