Introductory Principles on Backgammon Duplication

Duplication is more of an element of a strategy in backgammon than a solid piece of strategy that can be applied to an overall game. It is pretty much a strategy you can use in the mid-game and end-game of backgammon. We'll discuss how this particular two-edged sword works and what benefits can be gleaned from duplication.

Duplication, simply put, is placing your opponent in a situation where, given a result in a dice roll, he is made to make a crucial choice between two moves. Duplication is like forcing your opponent to compromise certain moves and getting an advantage out of it.

Duplication is useful on the long term when the game gets going in backgammon. Using this strategy does pose some risks, but that is really part of the game to become a winner. By using duplication we can take knowledgeable risks and take advantage of either move our opponent chooses. It may take some forward planning before a person can take full use of duplication.

Since duplication is a strategic game element more than a solid strategy (like a priming game for example), beginners sometimes find it hard to grasp its concepts. Here are some basic concepts to help us understand duplication. In backgammon duplication we limit the number of good rolls our opponent can use.

In a situation where an opponent has chance to hit your blot and at the same time he has a blot of his own, we make our opponent choose the latter by limiting the possible rolls to help him do both. In duplication we force our opponent to make a compromise.

If our opponent needs a 4-4 to hit our blot and cover his exposed checker somewhere else, then use duplication and move our checker so that it is not within range of a four to get hit. It should also be a position where he desperately needs to use the four on the dice to cover his blot first.

Duplication can be used in a situation where we have two blots exposed. Let's say our opponent has a checker at the bar, most of his checkers are on his home board except for a couple at the 12-point. We have a blot at the 21-point and the 2-point, both in striking distance of any short roll of 2-2, 1-2, 1-1.

We can use duplication and move our checker at the 21-point out of striking distance of any short roll thereby reducing our opponent's chances of hitting both.

In the long run, after a lot of practice, duplication will come up naturally. You will learn how to make your opponent make some compromises.

You will soon learn how to recognize patterns where you can make duplication work for you. Davram Bashere, a general in a popular fiction novel series, said if your opponent gives you two choices then strike at a third! That is the principle behind duplication in backgammon.