Below are money game positions that exemplify some of the strategy we have talked about in the article about the hitting factors in backgammon.
White has played the opening roll of 6-3 splitting a back checker with the 6 and then played a checker down to his 10 point with the 3. Black then rolls a 3-1:
Black can hit White on the 7 point with the 1 and use the 3 to split a back checker 24/21 or he use the 3 to unstack a checker from the 13 point with 13/10, or Black can make his 5 point by playing the 3-1 with 8/5 6/5.
In this early game position, it is better not to hit White because the 5 point (Golden Point) is a most valuable asset. Also, White will not always escape from your 7 point if he rolls less than a 5 on his next turn, so you might still get a chance to hit that blot anyway.
On the other hand, if instead White has run all the way out with his 6-3 (as seen below) and Black rolls the same 3-1…
…it is now correct to hit White on the 10 with the 3 and split a back checker 24/23 with the 1. The hit is correct because in most cases White will escape from the 10 point to the other side of the board, which you want to stop him from doing. Also, your new checker on the 10 point now acts as a builder and together with your spares on the 8 and 6 point, so you might still make your 5 point or another valuable point on your next roll.
In this next position, Black has rolled a 6-2 and has a choice of hitting White with 24/16* or he can refrain from hitting and play 13/7 9/7 to make the ultimate 6-point prime:
It’s a tough decision and it is very tempting to make your 7 point and lock your opponent in behind the 6-prime. In fact, you have about an 80% chance of winning the game if you do make your Bar point with 13/7 9/7 and 1% to 2% chances less if you hit 24/16*. But here’s the scoop, if you don’t hit your chances of winning a gammon are about 23% whereas if you do hit they soar up to 32%. So hitting here is the correct move.
Hit Once or Twice
Here is another challenging position. With a 3-2 should Black hit twice from the 20 point with 20/18*/15* or should Black hit just once while making his 5 point with 8/5* 7/5?
hitting position in backgammon
If you hit twice, White will often have trouble coming down from the Bar with both checkers and this could be your chance to begin your escape from the other side of the board or on a next roll maybe you will make another home board point with the stones you have on the 10, 8 and 7 points. However, if you do hit twice, the downside is that you are going to be very disappointed if White rolls the super joker of 5-5, which will allow him to re-enter with both checkers as well as hit you back twice! Then you might become the one stuck on the bar, and without an anchor to boot!
The better play is to hit just the one blot on your 5 point with 8/5* 7/5 and make the solid 4-prime. White will have some return shots but can only hit one of your checkers. If you are hit, you will still have an anchor upon which to land safely from the Bar as well as quite a few return shots of your own, on both sides of the board.
You will have around 80% chances of winning the game if you play 8/5* 7/5 as well as about 45% chances of winning it as a gammon compared to about 75% winning chances, and 39% gammon chances, if you make the double hit with 20/18*/15*.
It is interesting to note that if we take one checker off of the 20 point and place it together with the one on the 10 point (which eliminates the 5-5 joker roll) it now becomes correct to make the double hit with 20/18*/15*.
So when you have a decision to hit more than one checker, take some time to study the board and keep in mind all the hitting factors in backgammon.