Basic Rules of Thumb

  1. it is better to take risks early in the game. if you don't take risks early, you will probably be forced to take risks late in the game, when the downside can be devastating
  2. if I have to leave blots, can I use duplication to reduce risks?
    a position in which the same number can be used constructively in more than one way. for example, when your opponent can use a 5 to hit either of two blots, his 5's are said to be duplicated. all else being equal, a position which duplicates the opponent's good numbers is better than one which does not because it means the opponent has fewer good rolls in total
  3. can I hit two checkers?
  4. try to leave indirect shots instead of direct shots
    direct shot
    a chance to hit a blot six points or less away using a single number from one die
    indirect shot
    an opportunity to hit an opposing blot using the numbers on both dice taken together
  5. any time you are not sure which move to make, put yourself in your opponent's shoes and ask yourself which move you would hope your opponent would not make.
  6. "offense/offense, defense/defense" - when you are in an offensive position, tend to make the more offensive play, and when you are in a defensive position, tend to make the more defensive play
  7. most of the time, in the early game, if you can make your 5 point, it's the right play
  8. in the early game, if your opponent has 2 checkers on his 8 point, be more inclined to split your back checkers (your initial anchor); if there are more checkers on the 8 point, be less inclined to split
  9. if you have more inner (home) points than your opponent, be more inclined to get into a hitting game, and conversely, if you have fewer such points, be less inclined
  10. if you are up in the race, be more inclined to play safe and to run. if you are behind in the race, look for blocking and hitting opportunities
  11. generally, it is good to slot the back of the prime
  12. generally, if your opponent is at the edge of your prime, that's an invitation to hit him
  13. if you make your ace point early in the game, tend to play a hitting game
    traditional name for the one-point

Gammon Decision Rules of Thumb

  1. if you are at a score where saving gammons is important, making an advanced anchor is a priority. avoiding back games is also a priority
    advanced anchor
    an anchor on the opponent's five-point, four-point, or sometimes three-point
    back game
    a strategy employed by a player who is substantially behind in the race but has two or more anchors in the opponent's home. the back game player tries to hold both anchors as long as possible and force his opponent to bear in or bear off awkwardly
  2. if you are at a score where winning gammons is important, attempting to blitz and hit is a priority even if it risks your getting into a back game. try to keep your opponent from making an advanced anchor
    an all-out attack on enemy blots in your home aimed at closing out your opponent
  3. when considering alternative moves, think about what gets you not only the most wins and losses, but also the most gammons and backgammons
  4. avoid getting into back games; try to get your opponent into back games

Cube Decision Rules of Thumb

  1. when considering moves, think about how your move might affect his or your cube decision on the next few rolls
  2. if you fear being doubled, which play is least likely to get you the cube?
  3. think about whether or not you should be doubling before every roll
  4. major things to consider about doubling are assess all three in your decision-making process
  5. if you are thinking about doubling, put yourself in your opponent's shoes and ask yourself if you are sure if it's a take or sure if it's a drop, and if you're not sure, then for sure it's a double
  6. if you're not sure about giving the cube, ask yourself how you would feel if he takes it, and how you would feel if he drops it. that should give you some direction on whether or not to give it
  7. when you are thinking of doubling, always ask yourself if you are too good to double
  8. if you are thinking about doubling but are not sure, ask yourself how many market losers you have if you don't double to help make your decision
    market loser
    a sequence of two rolls (one for you and one for your opponent) which takes a game from a position in which your opponent would accept a double to a position in which your opponent would refuse a double
  9. when you're not quite sure whether to give the cube or not, give it. you might be making a mistake not to cube, and you might be making a mistake to cube, but you only give your opponent a chance to make a mistake if you do cube
  10. if your opponent is in a back game,it's generally right to double to activate gammons
  11. don't forget that you are playing a human being. take into account what you know, or think you know about that person's tendencies relative to taking and dropping cubes