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Priming Games: Defense and Offense

One of the tactics used in backgammon is making points. Blocking points usually serve as obstructions to your opponent's checkers. They are also useful as safe havens for any of your escaping checkers. Another use will be to serve as threats when they are anchored in important locations on the backgammon board (e.g. the bar points and the 5-points). Yet another effective use of blocking points is to line them up and make a prime.

A prime is essentially a line of blocking points standing side by side on your backgammon board. Having a prime in place will really make it difficult for any of your opponent's checkers to escape. The maximum length of any prime you make should be six points long, which makes it impossible for any opposing checker to escape.

You might find yourself using a prime on your opponent or defending against it. Since a priming game is a fundamental backgammon strategy, every player should know how to use it and how to defend against it. It is also quite common to find both players making primes in backgammon.

To make this strategy really work for you, you should make your prime longer. A bigger prime, one that has extra checkers on it, can be useful but a more effective prime is one that is longer. You should make primes a minimum length of four points. Going below this number makes the prime too easy an obstacle to jump over.

If you're the one defending against a prime the first thing you should consider is to make a point on the backgammon board. No sense having blots when your checkers are rimmed by a prime. Having blots will only make matters worse since you will have problems entering when the prime advances forward.

The next thing you should keep in mind when defending against a prime is to keep your anchor right next to the prime thus giving you more chances to jump over that huge obstacle. The next thing you want to do when defending against a prime is make your opponent break the prime.

Being slightly behind in the pip count works if you have checkers rimmed. If your opponent can't move any other backgammon checkers other than the ones on the prime then the checkers on the prime will have to move thus breaking the prime.

To help you force your opponent's hand into this you should concentrate on building your own prime or making points. If you have a huge stack of checkers on a single point you should spread those checkers out and get a balanced position.

By using these ideas you can either make full use of a prime or defend against it. A priming game is an essential backgammon strategy you should use whenever possible.