Winning every game of backgammon is an unattainable goal, but winning more than you lose is definitely achievable, which can turn you into a consistent winner in the long run. Duplication and non-duplication are two crucial strategies that can aid you in achieving this goal. Interestingly, these strategies are often so subtle that even experienced backgammon players remain oblivious to them for years. As a result, they attribute their opponents’ wins to luck, without realizing the intricate secrets behind the moves chosen based on these principles.
Here’s a simplified illustration of the duplication strategy in action. In the given diagram, White has just rolled a 4:1. How should White play this roll?
The optimal move for White in this situation is to move their checker from point 13 to point 8. If Black rolls a 4, they will have to use it to re-enter their checker and will be unable to hit the White blot, which is exactly 4 spaces away. However, in the unlikely event that Black rolls a double 4 (4:4), White must accept that their opponent has gotten lucky. If White had left their blot on point 9, Black would have had two chances in 36 to re-enter and hit it with a roll of either 5:4 or 4:5. By moving the checker to point 8, Black can now only enter and hit with a roll of 4:4, reducing their chances of success by 50%. This is an example of how duplication can be used to significantly reduce the opponent’s chances of hitting a vulnerable checker.
The same principle of duplication applies when you are in a situation where you must expose two blots. The risks of having both blots hit simultaneously and the challenges of re-entry are significant, so it is crucial to minimize the risk as much as possible. Duplication can often be employed to address this problem. The diagram below provides an example of how duplication can be used in a scenario with two blots. In this particular case, White has just rolled a 5:3.