Backgammon games can take various paths. These paths are divided into the following categories.
Anchor games are characterized by holding one point inside the opponents board. In general, the more advanced your anchor, the better for you. The reasons are simple: It is easier to escape and harder for your opponent to build a prime in front of the anchor. With an anchor you can always enter, when hit.
A back game is when you have at least two (deep) anchors made in the opponents home board. Your opponent is bearing in and later bearing off against these anchors, trying to avoid to get hit. If he manages to get his men out you most likely will lose a gammon or even backgammon. So in general, you should not try to play a back game. Timing is a very important feature of every backgame, enabling you to hold your prime on your side of the board.
On the other hand, well timed backgames often produce many double shots and therefore many single wins for the player.
In the bear off, both sides have there checkers in their home board and are taking there men off. It is almost always right to take a checker off whenever possible. More interesting are cube decisions.
One of the best possible strategies leading to a gammon win is the 'blitz'. Blitzes are games where you catch your opponent off- balance and without an anchor. You hit him, hopefully you hit one (or more) men and you keep on hitting. Your goal is close him out. Without the anchor he is having a desperate time just trying to enter on your board, and when he enters you go on hitting him again even inside your board. The ultimate aim of the blitz: your opponent ends up with his men on the bar, and you have a closed inner board.
In the end game normally one side is bearing off, trying to avoid blots, while the other player still hangs around and waits for getting a shot. When the shot is hit, one side has taken checkers off, while the other has build his board or prime and now tries to win from there.
Holding games are typically characterized by holding an advanced anchor or the bar point. Often both sides hold anchors and are waiting for a double to get home safely. The race is very important, when you consider checker play or cube decisions.
After the opening, the game can take many different paths. This stage of the game, before the game falls into another category is called middle game. Typically this is after the third move.
Backgammon positions can sometimes be really crazy and not fall into one of the well known categories. All positions that don't fall into one of the other groups, you will find here.
On the Bar
This category includes the positions, where you got hit when your opponent had a closed or strong board. Depending on the race, the number of checkers, that you already have taken off and the strength of his board many interesting cube decisions come up.
Opening 1st Move
All games start with the same position. So you should know what the best moves are.
Opening 2nd Move
The right replies to the opening are often not so easy find, but because these positions arise so frequently you should study that carefully. For more information go to the opening section.
Opening 3rd Move
Compared to chess, the the number of backgammon positions for the third move is already huge. Nonetheless it is very useful to know what strategy you should follow. You will find some difficult moves with big equity swings. For more information please refer to the backgammon opening section.
Priming battles are probably the most complicated positions to play. Every detail is very important and a faulty move can cost a lot of equity.
Timing is of paramount importance. Normally you try to crack your opponents prime before your prime cracks.
The race is on as soon as there is no contact anymore. If the race is close you should try to reach a flexible position in your home board. Checker plays are not so important, concentrate on double and take decisions. The race turns into a bear off as soon as you start taking checkers off.