Split Plays as Opening Rolls in Backgammon

Split plays are opening rolls where a player is not given the luxury of making a point. In fact, split plays force players to split their checkers right from the start of the game. And this will leave checkers exposed to attacks from the opponent. Here's how to execute the split plays correctly to make full use of these dice rolls.

As a matter of advice, players ought to use split plays to play an aggressive game. This considers the fact that a player's checkers are made vulnerable from the start. Another feature, though not that obvious, of split plays is the ability to set up points utilizing the next rolls we make later in the game.

The first split play we'll discuss is the 6-3 split play. The proper way to play this roll is to do a 24/18 and then to place a checker from the mid-point to the 10-point by playing a 13/10. What a player can focus on given this split play is the opportunity to grab the 18-point.

Taking the 18-point is the smartest move we can make here since that is an effective blocking point for our opponent. This roll will somehow give us a chance to deny the opponent the chance to build on this point.

The rule we can follow with strategies using split plays is that though our checkers get hit, we can still hit the opponent back later.

If in case our checker on the 10-point is spared, it becomes a foundation for building on that point and continuing on to build the bar point. Split plays involves a bit of forward planning as one unique characteristic. We are not dependent on the results of the first dice roll but rely on them as foundations for our next moves.

Quite similar to the first split play we discussed is the 6-2 opening roll. The correct way to play this roll is to do a 24/18 and then to play a 13/11.

Next split play is the 5-1 opening roll. With this we take a checker from the mid-point and put it on the 8-point (i.e. 13/8 play). This position is statistically safe. The next recommended move is to do a 24/23 splitting the back checkers.

Next is the 4-1 split play. This one plays like the 5-1 by doing a 13/9 first and then splitting the back checkers.

The 2-1 split play is the same as the two previous rolls discussed. But the initial play is 13/11 before we get to split the back checkers.

A 5-4 split play is done by doing a 13/8 and a 24/20. The main strength of this roll is the opportunity to build on the 20-point (a critical blocking point of your opponent) in the next roll.

A 5-2 opening roll is the same as a 5-4; we go for the 8-point and then split the back checkers by doing a 24/22.

A 4-3 split play can be played as a 13/9 and a 24/21. An alternative play would be to do a 24/20 and a 13/10.

A 3-2 opening roll can be played as a 24/21 and then a 13/11. An alternative is to play a 13/10 and then a 13/11.

Split plays take on some calculated risks. They often are just the first part of a player's opening strategy. Playing these rolls well saves one from disaster and brings an abundance of unforeseen opportunities.