Backgammon Doubles and How to Play Them

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What happens when you roll doubles in backgammon

Backgammon doubles are when you roll two of the same number – so either 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, or 6-6. When you roll doubles in backgammon you get to move (and have to move, if you can) 4 of that number. So for example if you roll double 6s you would move “6” four times, for a total of 24 pips. If you are in a running game trying to beat your opponent to the finish line this can be a great help!

How do I play backgammon doubles

When you’re playing backgammon, the first thing you should really do on any roll is look at the board and evaluate your options. You should consider if you are in the lead or not (usually measured by a combination of pip count and board positioning), and what kind of strategy you plan to use for winning the game.

Let’s look at some examples

Run forest, run! Of course, one of our favorite times to roll backgammon doubles (especially 6s or 5s) is when we want to put ourselves ahead in the running game, making a big leap in pips while safely running with our pieces. If I’m in a running game and get double 6’s, I always secretly in my mind think “see ya!”

Perhaps you are in a situation where you some checkers have been left behind (not by choice, surely) and they don’t have any anchor points near by to make a safe transition, then doubles could sure be nice!

If you are losing the game and trying to play the back game hoping for a shot to comeback through a back game, double 6s or 5s could be detrimental to your game, since you may be forced to move the checkers you were hoping to leave behind – often leaving you with almost no chance of winning.

Doubles can be especially nice if you’re losing a game. Even better is if you’re about to lose the game but doubles save the game! Those ones feel nice, unless you’re on the receiving end of that defeat of course, those ones always sting. That’s why it’s important to learn proper doubling cube strategy, because sometimes misfortune can be avoided by an early resignation from your opponent.

Pro tip: It’s always good practice to increase your odds and possibilities for the next roll by distributing your checkers across multiple points, meaning you don’t want to stack several pieces on a single point if you have the ability to safely distribute them instead

Backgammon doubles are great, but not always

Most of the time rolling doubles in backgammon can feel like a great stroke of luck, and it certainly can be, but what if you don’t have your checkers positioned well or play the roll poorly and leave some checkers open? It can certainly cause some frustrations, or at least a moment of panic. That’s why it’s important to have a good set of backgammon skills and understand various strategies.

A great book on backgammon: Backgammon for Winners

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