Your Ideal Backgammon Opening Rolls

When people talk about backgammon and backgammon opening rolls the dice usually pop up somewhere in the conversation. Yes there is luck when it comes to the backgammon opening rolls you will have but there is also a right and wrong way to use those dice especially when it comes to the opening rolls. If you want to play online backgammon and you want to do well you need to have the opening rolls down pat. It is as simple as that.

The opening roll in backgammon definitely sets the scene for the rest of the game, even more so in online backgammon. Some opening rolls you love and there is only one way to play them, some are good and can be played several ways and then there are some which are simply diabolical.

The more online backgammon you play the sooner you will become more intimate with each of the possibilities when it comes to backgammon opening rolls.

2-1 This is a disaster opening roll if not the very worst as it does not allow you to advance your pieces far and forces you to leave at least one uncovered piece. If you wish to have only one single you would move 13/10. Some people like to get there back-men involved and move 24/21 or 24/23, 24/22. 24/23, 13/11 or 13/11, 6/5 have a lot of fans as well.

Moving anything from the 6 or 8 point is too risky and you face the possibility of losing one of your key building pieces. Splitting your back-men at this stage gives you a good chance of getting them out or building a point in his home-board. It also means that if he is going to hit you he does so for not much gain.

3-1 One of the golden backgammon rules is that with this opening roll you move 8/5, 6/5 allowing you to lock up the five point which is one of your main objectives. The more online backgammon you play the more you will come to love this opening roll.

3-2 The more conservative approach would be 13/8. If you want to think plan ahead 13/10, 13/11 gives you two builders but you could lose one of them on the next turn. 24/21, 13/11 allows you to get your back-men or free or build a point in your opponent’s home board while having the chance to make a valuable point on the next throw.

4-1 Again 13/8 is a favorite play by those who don’t like leaving blots around the place. If you are wanting to slot you could do 24/23, 13/9 or 24/23, 24/20 which if it comes up puts you in a great position.

4-2 Like 3-1, the only move here is 8/4, 6/4 which gives you the 4 point.

4-3 A tricky one. 13/10, 13/9 is done a lot but your chances of being hit the next roll are very high. If you want to reduce the chances of this happening you could do 24/20, 13/10 or 24/21, 13/9. 13/6 is the move of a player with no imagination which you see quite a bit in online backgammon.

5-1 You have to leave a single here and hard to differentiate between 24/23, 13/8 and 13/8, 6/5. If you are ambitious try 24/18 or 13/7 which if come off can really set you up nicely. Not one of the better backgammon opening rolls to have to contend with.

5-2 Not the best opening roll to have to deal with. Boring players will do 13/6. If you have more flair you have to choose between 13/11, 13/8 or 24/22, 13/8.

5-3 8/3, 6/3 is pretty much your only option. The traditional backgammon rules don't have much arguement with this.

5-4 You could go with 24/20, 13/8 or the more conservative 13/9, 13/8. A new opening which is gaining popularity is 13/4.

6-1 One of the dream opening rolls with 13/7, 8/7 choosing itself. A great online backgammon opening roll.

6-2 A roll where you will only know what the best move was after your opponent’s next move. 24/18, 13/11 can hurt you with a six while a four ruins 24/16. 13/5 has some fans but again a four can turn it into a choice you may regret quickly.

6-3 Like 6-2 you don’t have much to work with here. You could go with 24/18, 13/10 or 24/15 which has a lot going for it. 13/4 has some great potential upside to it.

6-4 You could get one out of your back-men out with 24/14. 24/18, 13/9 is an interesting one and if you are really daring try 24/20, 13/7. The jury is out on 8/2, 6/2. Give it a go sometimes and see how it comes out.

6-5 24/13 is the only option.

Some variations of the game especially online backgammon allow for the person going first to roll two dice. If that is the case, here are the optimal starting rolls for doubles. A double to start with can really set up your online backgammon game.

6-6 24/18 (2) and 13/7 (2) is as close to the dream opening start as you will get.

5-5 13/3 (2) is your only play and one of the backgammon opening rolls you wouldn't mind beginning with.

4-4 You could either do 24/20(2), 13/9(2) or 13/5 (2).

3-3 The opening roll with the most decent options available. You have 24/21(2), 8/5(2) or you could do 24/18 (2) or 13/7 (2).

2-2 24/20(2) is pretty obvious.

1-1 One of the best opening rolls with 8/7(2), 6/5(2). There aren't many backgammon rules but one of them would be that this is what you would do if you began with double one.

Written by Irene Jones: Backgammon columnist.