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What are the most common opening move for 6,2 and 6,3?

It seems the logical move is to take a runner and move 8 or 9 pips. However, after playing a lot lately online I notice people also like to move into the #7 position with one runner and move 2 or 3 with the remaining runner. While it seems risky, I also think that unless your opponent rolls a 6,1 or 6,6, they are opening themselves up more than you are opening yourself.

The exception of course would be if you were second to roll and your opponent has other crippling rolls available depending on their first roll.

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In The Backgammon Book, World Champions Oswald Jacoby and John Crawford recommend with both 6-2 and 6-3 moving one runner to the bar point and one man from the 12-point into your own outer table; though they concede that there another move almost as good:

The modern play [written in 1970] is to use the six to move one back man to the black bar point and use the other to move a man from the black twelve point into your outer table. ... Unless [the man on the bar point] is hit by a point-making roll (in this case 6-1; double 6; double 3; or double 1) you will have a lot of possible returns against your opponent's vulnerable blot; and you have lost little anyways. If your man is not hit your position is highly advantageous.

Note that Jacoby and Crawford do not recommend the modern play above with an opening roll of 6-4.

For both 6-2 and 6-3 they regard one alternative move each being nearly as good as the modern play recommended above: with 6-3 running with a single runner to the ten point, but with a 6-2 moving a man from your 12-point to your inner board.

With a 6-2 we don't like the running play [moving a single man from black one point to black nine point) at all, as it exposes your man to a straight 4 or 3-1 or double 2; a total of 14 possible shots.

  • An awful lot has happened since 1970 - including the ability to do massive bot rollouts. The bots agree with Jacoby & Crawford in this case, but not always... – Julia Hayward Dec 23 '15 at 14:48
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    @JuliaHayward: I'd be interested in any particular instances where the bots disagree with Jacoby and Crawford - do you have any links to such? – Forget I was ever here Dec 24 '15 at 23:01
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All else being equal, 24/18 13/11 (62) and 24/18 13/10 (63) are marginally better. On the upside, increased options for making points with the extra man in your outer board, and return hits with 6s if your opponent hits your runner without covering. On the downside, more risk of being hit. However, in match play, at certain match scores your moves 24/16 and 24/15 are preferred - generally where losing a gammon is particularly bad. But there's not a lot in it.

However, if I understand you correctly, the people playing 24/18 24/22 and 24/18 24/21 are definitely wrong - they get all the downside above and little upside from moving the second runner.

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A lot depends on your style. Some would prefer to move 6,2, off their midpoint to their five point to build up their board quickly. A few would play 6,3 the same way, that is to their four point, while a few others would do so only after having made their five point. I like to start 5,3 by making the three point to improve the value of a subsequent 6,2, 6,3, or 5,4 (move all three off the midpoint to my board).

Others will build a game around moving the back men 24/16 or 24/15 to quickly build up their outfield.

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