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Bear Off Strategies and Tactics in Backgammon

The bear off is the closing stage of a backgammon game but is not always the closing part of a game. Not all games end with one player bearing off the winning checker. In fact, there are more backgammon games you will play that won't be ending in this classic fashion.

Nevertheless, players should still understand and use bear off strategies and tactics since they will indeed encounter this situation one time or another. Knowing the tweaks and tricks of the bear off stage of a game will spell a huge difference in your overall backgammon strategy.

Knowing what to do in the bear off is a great thing to add to whatever you already have established as a strategy for a running game. After a running game has passed your next concern will be to bear off checkers you have fought so hard to reel in. Surprisingly, there are only a few things you will add to your running game strategy when you get to the bear off.

The suggestions we have below may not always apply to every bear off you will play. You should also try to apply whatever strategy you have for a running game in connection with the bear off. A refresher course on the running game may come in handy so feel free to go back to our page on the running to reinforce what you learn here.

Our first suggestion for your bear off strategy will be to smoothen out your checker distribution. We've already given you a heads up on flexibility and diversification (you may also want to get back to our page on that if you wish). A smooth and flexible checker distribution will allow you to take advantage of every roll you get. This eases the frustration you get when roll low numbers when all you need are the high ones.

During this stage, you are most likely in a race against your opponent to take out the last backgammon checker. As a rule of thumb, your backgammon strategy should be to bear off a checker if the roll you make permits it. You should never waste any roll you make in this crucial closing moment. You should avoid wastage in this stage of the game. That usually comes in the form of moving checkers closer to the edge or ace-point when you could have taken them off the board.

Applying the tactic of avoiding wastage in a backgammon race, you should avoid gaps in between your checkers when bringing your checkers home. In case gaps can't be avoided, you should rather fill these gaps if you have no chance to bear off a checker in your current turn. Applying principles of a race strengthens your bear off strategy. You should know these things by heart next time you enter the bear off stage.