Knowing When Not to Double in Backgammon

In some cases, your backgammon position can change drastically in a single turn from one where it’s not good enough to double, to one where it’s too good to double. This might seem counterintuitive, but it happens when you have a commanding position with a high likelihood of winning a single game and a strong chance of winning a gammon.

Doubling in this scenario would actually benefit your opponent as they would simply refuse the double and you would only gain one point. On the other hand, if you don’t double, your opponent will be forced to play to the end, most likely resulting in a gammon and a loss of two points.

The position depicted in the diagram serves as a good example. If you were to double your opponent in this situation, they would be overjoyed to refuse it quickly. So, be savvy and avoid doubling when your position is too good to give your opponent a chance to escape with only a single point.


to-good-to-double - backgammon-double

While it’s important to be greedy and take advantage of situations where you have a good chance of winning a gammon, it’s equally crucial not to be too greedy and risk losing the game altogether.

For instance, in the scenario depicted in the diagram, your opponent has only one man on the bar and two men on your one point, indicating that they are in a difficult position. However, it’s still risky to refrain from doubling in the hopes of getting two points for a gammon. Instead, double your opponent right away and secure the point.

When your opponent has made your one point, the situation is inherently dangerous for you. They will likely get multiple shots at you, increasing their chances of winning the game. Additionally, they can often save the gammon, if not the game, by hitting you at the very end. Doubling in such scenarios may result in too few double game wins and too many single game losses.

While your opponent cannot accept the double in this situation, you should be content with securing a sure point rather than risking it all for a gammon.

to-good-to-double - backgammon-double2.

“Jacoby” rule

f you’re using the “Jacoby” optional rule and no one has doubled yet, your position can never be too good to double. This rule, created by Oswald Jacoby, states that no one can win a gammon unless a double has been proposed and accepted by either player. The purpose of the rule is to prevent those dull games where one player is clearly going to win but keeps playing without doubling, hoping for a gammon. As a side effect, it often leads players to make poor doubling decisions.

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