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When to Execute the Running Game in Backgammon

A basic strategy in backgammon is called the running game. Though it is indeed very simple to execute, and one which seems to be very obvious to beginners, there are still precautions regarding this strategy. We'll examine when to execute this strategy and the conditions that should exist before deciding to go for it.

The objective of this strategy is to quickly bring all your pieces or checkers onto the inner board. Thus it is called the running game. It connotes that we make a run for home. Seems easy? Think again. If the running game is executed poorly, or if your timing is off, you may end up losing rather than making a good win.

When do we choose to do a running game? First thing we need to check before we go ahead and employ this strategy is our pip count. By pip count we mean the number of points our checkers need to travel to get home. The number of checkers you have, and their distance from the home board determines this. It is best to execute a running game when you are ahead in the pip count, meaning you have less checkers and/or your checkers are closer to home.

Another factor we need to check before we execute a running game is our contact with enemy checkers. Check the position of your checkers. If it seems that you may have blots in your position and that your opponent may have an actual chance to make a hit, you may opt to get your checkers in a better position first before using this strategy.

One thing a player might like to check is the presence of blocks. If your opponent has a block (and if that block is positioned at the home board) we better evaluate our checkers' positions and see if we can move them past the block. If we have less checkers that have not passed your opponent's block it may be feasible to do a running game at this point.

Often enough, a block positioned at your opponents' 20 point, or closer to home, is formidable. Seeing that on the board is a signal to delay a running game. Unless of course your checkers are positioned evenly before or after the block or you have more checkers passed the block or better yet you have a nice prime set up rendering the block futile. A block trapped by a prime in the middle of the home board is quickly parried off and a running game is quite likely.

Players often execute a running game at the middle of the match or when nearing the end game. At a point when you break contact it is wise to execute a running game especially when the dice is with you. A break in contact is when your checkers have moved past the last of your opponent's checkers and so that he cannot execute a hit or block. At this stage the game now becomes a pure race.

Remember to look out for these conditions in any backgammon game if you are looking to execute a running game. Though most prefer to do a running game near the end game this strategy may also be employed during mid-game, all you have to do is get the proper timing.