Open Points in Backgammon

Backgammon is played on boards with a lot of spaces or points on which checkers move on. Through these points scores are made, wins are achieved, and losses are suffered. Let's examine open points in backgammon to see further how strategies are helped by them.

Open points are unoccupied points. This means no checker piece, ours or the opponent's, is on a point. Some call it a free point, some a vacant point. In the beginning of a game when the dice is not yet rolled all points on the board are open points—they are open for occupying. They are neutral points. Nothing happens on an open point. We cannot hit anything there or use it to block or delay the enemy movement.

An open point only initially loses its neutrality when a checker starts occupying it. When our checker occupies it the open point becomes a blot. It is not yet owned by our checker piece and may soon be hit. When hit our checker piece gets penalized and is detained for a turn on the bar—a strip of island in the middle of the board. When another of our checkers lands on the point it becomes a prime. Then, the point that used to be an open point now becomes our property—it is owned by our checkers, temporarily.

As long as our two checkers remain on the point it is "our" point. No enemy checker may land on it. It cannot be hit. But when we take out one of the checkers, it reverts back to a blot—easy prey for hitting. And when we take out even the lone checker there it reverts to a neutral open point—no one owns it again. We may have from 2 to 6 checker pieces on a point to make it a prime. This is how we convert open points in backgammon into powerful primes.

When we have pieces on the bar, we need to enter them back to the board. After rolling the dice to see on what point we can enter them, it would be to our advantage if we land them on open points. It's a fresh new start for these checkers. We may also land them on blots, as the dice roll decides. And when we're in the bearing off phase we need as many open points as possible for a swift win.

Thus, open points in backgammon are free points where our checkers can temporarily take refuge as blots once they occupy them.