Expert Tips on Doubling in Backgammon: Strategies and Guidance

When playing a running game, you should consider doubling under the following conditions:

  • You’re two or three turns ahead.
  • Your pip count is 8% to 10% ahead of your opponent’s. You should accept a double when you’re not more than 15% behind.

In the middle-game, doubling is always for positional reasons. To double in the middle-game, you should look for:

  • A strong block of four to five consecutive points.
  • Two or three of your opponent’s men behind your block.
  • Your opponent with a weaker block and unlikely to be able to trap your men behind it.

Doubling in the middle-game requires judgment and experience, and there is no easy formula for acceptance or refusal. All positional games can be reversed with luck and skill. Therefore, be cautious not to double too early, as your advantage may quickly vanish.

In the back game, your opponent will likely force you to expose a man at some stage of the bearing-off process. Hence, avoid doubling in a back game unless either his board is breaking up, or he is forced to weaken his back game by giving up control of one of the two points he holds in your home board. When you see his position weakening, you can double him.

When playing against an opponent who is using a back game strategy in a game of backgammon, it is likely that at some point during the process of removing your pieces from the board, you will have to leave one of them exposed. Thus, it is recommended that you avoid doubling your opponent until their own board starts to break apart or they are forced to relinquish control of one of the two points they hold in your home board. Once you notice their position becoming weaker, that would be a good time to double your opponent.

When playing the end game in backgammon, there are certain situations in which you should consider doubling your opponent.

Firstly, if your men are mostly located on the lower points of your home board while your opponent’s men are on the higher points, especially if there is a gap in the middle, you can expect your opponent to eventually roll the number that corresponds to that gap. As a result, they will be forced to move a piece instead of removing one from the board. In this scenario, you can value each gap in your opponent’s home board as equal to having an additional piece removed from the board.

Secondly, if the game is equal in terms of the number of men and positional factors, the player who has the next turn will be two pieces ahead after their turn. Therefore, it would be advantageous to double your opponent to force them to resign. Otherwise, they could roll a double and catch up with you. If your opponent doubles you in this situation, it’s best to refuse the double.

Finally, in the last one or two rolls of the dice, you should consider doubling if you have a better than 50% chance of removing all your pieces before your opponent. However, if your opponent doubles you in this scenario, it’s best to accept the double only if their chances of winning are not greater than 74%.

Sum Up

Possible gammon and backgammon scenarios should be avoided for doubling in backgammon. By doubling, you give your opponent the option to decline and lose only one point. Instead, try to play until the end and aim to win a 2-point or 3-point game for a gammon or backgammon, respectively.

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