How I Play An Opening 1-4 Backgammon Roll When The Score Is Tied

by Alan Martin
22 February 2017

Alan Martin

Alan gives private backgammon lessons, and for the past 2 years he has won the "player of the year" at his club in Los Angeles (Gammon Associates) Many years ago I wrote an article titled "To slot or not to slot?" That was in the then "Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine," published by my old friend Michael Maxaculi. I am guessing it was 1977.

Here were some of my thoughts in that article (pre computer) written over 40 years ago. Remember, we were just learning the different nuances of the hottest game in America. The 1970's was affectionately referred to as "The Golden Age of Backgammon." The following is part of the article.

"It's about time someone explained one of the most fundamental and intriguing arguments in backgammon today. Is is better to split your back men or slot your 5 point on an opening roll of 1-2, 1-4, or 1-5? Both moves are sound. Slotting your 5 point makes you the favorite to secure this valuable point. Your opponent is a 15/36 underdog to roll a 4 (actually 14/36 since he won't hit with double aces). You then are a heavy favorite to make the point with with aces, threes, and eights working for you. The alternative to slotting is splitting your back men. Essentially, this accomplishes 3 things. First, splitting gives you a double shot (probably indirect) on all your opponent's non pointing opening rolls. Second, having your back men split, gives you a better chance of making his 4, 5, or bar point on your next roll. Third, by not slotting you avoid getting hit and having a 3rd man back. Should you split and your opponent rolls double 4's or double 5's, hitting and making 2 more inside points, your position could become untenable fast."

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