Splitting Your Back Checkers

"Splitting" is a backgammon term that refers to the act of advancing one of two checkers on a point. In starting position, you have two checkers on your opponent's one-point which is also your 24-point. And splitting your back checkers is one of the many tricky aspects of the game.

Beginners usually leave these back checkers alone since they obviously anchor a point and appear to be safe where they are. This is, unfortunately, a common false impression. If you've been finding yourself stuck on your opponent's home board when you've almost got your entire checkers home more than a few times, then this should be of help.

There's no better time to separate your back checkers than in the early stages of the game. You can do a minor split or a major split. The former slots your opponent's 2-point or 3-point and the latter slots your opponent's 4-point or 5-point.

If you have a choice between the two, the major split is the recommended move. It sets up a potential advanced anchor that will be most favorable to you. An advanced anchor is two of your checkers on your opponent's 5-point or 4-point.

You can use a dice combination to run a back checker farther than these points but in the early stages of the game, your opponent's less likely to hit a blot on their home board. That's why this is the best time to break away. The only exception is if you're opening the game with a six-five roll. In that case, you should run all the way to your mid-point.

Also, avoid the double split. That's advancing both of your back checkers at the same time with different pip moves on a roll. Use the dice combination individually on the different quadrants of the backgammon board. In other words, split a back checker and move another checker from somewhere else, preferably one from your mid-point.

Splitting your back checkers should be done early on in backgammon. If you have a choice between a minor split and a major split, choose the latter alternative. If you subsequently throw good rolls, you can make an advanced anchor on your opponent's five-point with it. Avoid using a dice combination for a double split. When you separate a back checker, use the other number on the roll to bring down a checker from somewhere else on the board. Because if you're going to slot two checkers, it's better to leave two blots that are far from one another than leaving them within six pips of each other.