The Dangers of Bearing off Our Checkers

Bearing off in backgammon is the final chapter of the game where more caution is warranted. We should know the factors that can spoil our bearing off play.

One of the requirements of bearing off stage is that we should have transferred all our checkers into our home board. If any of our checkers are left on the enemy home board—even one—we cannot start with the bearing off phase. This phase is most crucial because if we bear off all our checkers before the opponent does we are proclaimed winner, and vice versa.

The same thing if we have several pieces still on the bar. When we have checkers hit by the enemy the checkers are temporarily held on the bar that is at the mid-portion of the board. A backgammon rule is that if we have even a checker on the bar, we should not be doing any other move except to enter it on the board. Thus, having to enter our checkers from the bar is an obstacle to bearing off phase.

Checkers carried off the board should not be re-placed on the board. Online, we don't have to worry about this. It's when playing the game on a traditional board that we should be wary of this. And another thing about bearing off is that it is when our opponent is especially particular of hitting our checkers. Having a checker hit while bearing off is the pits.

Imagine bearing off—the final stretch of the backgammon race—and then we become careless and leave one checker unsupported. The opponent hits it. It is then put in the bar, needing a turn to be placed back on the board. This means being back on square one—placed back on the enemy home board—to do the whole routine again. It should travel from the enemy home board to our home board, one turn at a time.

When the checker that was hit reaches our home board and is ready for bear off than and only then can we proceed with our bearing off stage. The whole process of carrying off our pieces stopped because of one hit checker. Imagine if 2 or 3 checkers got hit.

The proper precaution during bearing off phase is to move checkers in pairs or by forming primes. Primes cannot be hit so we must often move checkers to land on a prime or a potential prime. As much as possible avoid leaving a blot when bearing off in backgammon.