In backgammon, substantial value is placed on making consecutive points in your home board. So much so, that some players would use say, an opening 6-2 to place a lone, exposed, man on the five point, slotting it, and hoping to cover it on the next turn.

Suppose you got an opening 3-1 and "made" your five point. Would you then slot the four point with a 6-3 or 5-4, the way one might have slotted the five point with a 6-2?

I like to play an early 5-3 to the three point, because it increases the value of slots to the five and four points. Would many authorities recommend this play? Would they use 5-3 to slot the five point (like a 6-2)? Or would they play "safe" by taking two builders from the midpoint and putting them on the eight and ten points.

  • I'm not an authority, but I think this would depend very heavily on a few other factors: where are your opponents checkers- are there any blots? has he escaped both of his runners (on his 24 point)? what's the score in the match? has the cube been turned? who is the stronger player (hardest to answer)? So many things to consider :)
    – cmhughes
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 0:03
  • @cmhughes: Beginning of the game (no cube turned, opponent's checkers on the 24 point). In my case, I would slot the five point with an opening 6-2. But not the four point with a 6-3 or 5-4 (unless I had made the five point (3-1) or three point (5-3) on a previous turn). I would play 5-3 to the three point to improve the value of a subsequent slot to the four or five points.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 16:40

2 Answers 2


This depends heavily on what the opponent has done so far with his runners. If both runners are still on your 1 point, or if only one runner remains in your home board, slotting forward from your 6 point often has a good risk reward. If two split runners exist in your home board (or one runner and one or more opposing men on the bar), you must be much more cautious slotting in your home board.

Additionally, the thickness of your wall to date allows more aggressive play moving it forward. If you have pointed on 5-6-7-8 already, slotting on 4 might be considered even against split runners, but the shape of your opponents home board is important also.

Weighing all these factors is good judgement, which comes only form the experience of having made decisions with bad judgement and learning form it.

  • 1
    You also need to consider the position of of your own two runners. Slotting with your runners split invites your opponent to attack should he miss the slot, in the hope of getting more chances at it - and is therefore much less desirable. Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 15:43

Generally speaking, you have to slot 5 pt with your 62 if you are trying for a gammon. Example would be a Crawford game at a score of 2-away, 1-away (or 6 to 5 in a 7-point match).

If we think outside the box, of course you can slot 5-3 too with the same idea in the same situation, but let's think what are you giving up for it in exchange: if you played 83,63 you would have made an early home point, which is crucial for the gammon wins (this is why at the same score, initial 64 would be still better to make your 2-point). and if on the next roll the hitting exchange takes place, you are much better off in such a battle with an extra home point. Its not only the extra dancing numbers, but the restricted options of your opponent with the dice that contains any 6 and now any 3. This is quite important.

At the same time, you have nothing to give up for the 62 slot. you would never establish anything substantial with this roll so the risk-reward ratio is much better for 62 than it is for 53. I have been experimenting a lot with this scenario and slotted the vital points and fwiw, I came to conclusion that in points-slotting the point is not of a paramount importance but unstacking the checkers is. I remember the days when computers "despised" the slotting with the opening 21. Now its a standard play. I am also inclined to slot the 41, when computers advise against it, but for me unstacking is the priority, and this is another factor what is to consider when slotting 53. You could have had a home point, and unstacked 6 point. with slotting, you have lost both of these advantages. Needless to say, with 62 you didn't have any opportunity to unstack any points, so no much extra loss there.

  • I learned all this in the 1980's from a couple of good books. I leave it to you to determine why computer programs took so long to catch up. "Backgammon for Blood" was one; I will look up the other later. Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 22:54
  • Perhaps Bill Robertie's Advanced Backgammon? that was my favourite. I would still recommend to read it for any beginner to intermediate players. Much more point to it than to simply waste hours with playeing against a Computer Programs
    – Skytten
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 14:40

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