The Bear Off: The Art of Removing Checkers

All your work in getting things done and making a good game in backgammon can never be more spoiled if you mess up in the bear off. This is the final stage in backgammon and would usually end up as some sort of rush to the finish between you and your opponent.

It is interesting to note that not all games in backgammon reach the bear off, in fact there are more games that end not getting to this stage at all. But when they do, it becomes a very interesting part of the game where the value of the game is doubled and then at times redoubled.

When your backgammon game does reach this stage you should understand the art of removing checkers from the board. You don't have to worry about any form of statistical analysis here, all we're doing is taking your checkers off the board faster than your opponent can. We only have a few guidelines to follow when we get to the bear off stage.

The first guideline you should keep in mind is to keep a smooth distribution of checkers on your backgammon board, which means keeping the distribution on your home board pretty much even. By evening out the distribution of checkers you can make use of every roll you get in the bear off to take a checker off the playing field. You don't waste rolls moving one checker closer to the Ace point.

Next guideline is to always bear off a checker when you have a chance to do it. Never waste moves, when a roll on the dice lets you bear off a checker then do it.

Now, you can't always bear off checkers, realistically you'll always waste moves every now and then since you can't always bear off checkers every single roll you get. Whenever the time comes you can't bear off any checker no matter how smooth you've tried to distribute them on the backgammon board then you should fill gaps on your home board. If you can do this without creating a new gap then it'll be great.

Now if you can't bear off checkers and you can't fill in gaps your last course of action in the bear off is move checkers from the tallest stack you have on the home board. One last reminder is to check the pip count to see if you're in the lead or not. You should also do this whenever your opponent offers you the cube.

The bear off is an interesting stage in backgammon. Reducing wastage in this stage of the game is the key to a good finish.

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