I believe the best way to understand how to do a proper blitz in backgammon is to start with the dictionary. The dictionary defines the word “blitz” as follows:
“an overwhelming all-out attack”
The idea of the blitz is to barrage your opponent by hitting him and making points and hopefully, if you are successful, closing him out completely so that he has one or more checkers on the bar while you proceed to win a gammon or backgammon.
Of course the word blitz is actually short for “blitzkrieg” which was the massive German offensive at the start of World War II. The German’s conquered whole nations in days and sometimes hours because of two things:
- they had a large, strong army in place;
- they attacked quickly and relentlessly until they achieved their goal.
The backgammon blitz works in exactly the same way. And when it is successful, the success is complete…ending in total rewards that often include gammons and sometimes even backgammons.
Many say the Germans lost the war because they eventually spread their resources too thin by fighting on two fronts. And that same error will cause the backgammon blitz to fail as well.
So what we have learned so far from the Germans is that if we want to have a successful blitz, we must have a lot of ammunition in place; we must be unrelenting; and we must focus our resources on one area of geography—our inner board.
Now, let’s put these principles to work over the board and discuss how and when you blitz and don’t blitz.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume on every position it is a money game and your opponent has the cube.
Let’s take a look at Position 1, black on roll, and black to play 5-3.
This is an “ideal” blitz position. Like the Germans, Black has a tremendous army (many checkers and builders) in place to attack the inner board. White has few defenses with a checker on the bar and two blots. Here is a classic opportunity for Black to execute a blitz. A perfect blizt is one that keeps the opponent from anchoring (making a point) until you end up closing your board with the opponent’s checker(s) on the bar. The best way to keep White from making a point here is to put all his checkers on the bar…so the only way he can make a point is by rolling doubles. In this case, only double 1, 2, 3, and 4 work. So clearly the play here is to move 9/4*/1*.
Yes, you could make your 3 point and not hit anything and not leave a direct shot, but if you do that and White rolls a 1 or a 4, or a double 2, or a 2-3, he not only has an anchor that will probably prevent him from getting gammoned, he win a fair share of games with that anchor. If you count the rolls, that 23 out of 36 rolls that really work well for him.
The “down side” to the double hit is that you might get hit back with a 1, but even if you do, White’s board allows for easy re-entry, and you still have plenty of soldiers to attack with.
Now, take a look at Position 2, and how would you play 5-3?
In this position, it is still right to attack, but it is much better not to hit two. In this situation, your goals is to make the better point…the four point. When you are blitzing, you don’t care about what order you makes the points in…you just want to keep him from anchoring. This is NOT a blitz position simply because you don’t have enough checkers in position to close the board before White is likely to anchor.