The Power of a Backgammon Prime

In backgammon it is important to own points for a while. To avoid getting hit by the opponent we must build as many backgammon primes as possible.

Primes are points with more than 2 checkers resting on each of them. They are exempted from hits. If we scatter our checkers in pairs on the boards then we have established several primes in the game. We have a more secure playing stance. Our checkers may go over our primes but enemy checkers still behind them cannot. They are forbidden by backgammon rules to bypass our primes, and vice versa.

Primes cannot last throughout a game. They will have to be dismantled occasionally. The aim of the game is not really to build permanent primes. Primes are only temporary strategies to give way for a higher goal. The higher goal is to get all pieces across to our home board and then bear them off one by one from the board. So we have to dismantle our primes soon or we'll be out-run in the race.

When we dismantle our primes to move them forward, the enemy checkers behind are freed from the "traffic jam" and able to proceed to their destination. So with the opponent's primes. When we get stuck to them we simply wait for the opponent to dismantle the primes. Thus, to avoid backgammon primes we have to move our pieces as fast as possible. Getting stuck to primes is inevitable in the game. But we must do our best to limit the times we get trapped by them.

Remember, when all our checkers are stuck behind enemy primes we lose many turns. The enemy gets all the advantage while we wait till all the opponent's primes are out of the way. The power of primes is very tempting that many players build lots of them and forget about winning the race. We should balance between building primes and moving checkers to the home board and bearing them off. Primes are good but we need to win the race.

It's important for beginners to see that backgammon primes develop from open points to blots. We cannot have primes all of a sudden on the board. We have to move checkers, sit them on points, and pair them with ally pieces.

Then we have primes.

Then, we cannot move primes around the board. We have to dismantle them and move the checkers individually so that primes depreciate into blots and then to open points.