How to Make a Six-One Start

Don't underestimate the advantages of making the first move in backgammon. It's as important as deciding on which checkers to move during the middle and at the end of the game. Now, there are only fifteen dice combinations to start with and as a result, experts have broken down the more logical approaches to each of the opening rolls. So if you are opening the game with six-one start, you don't need to take too long thinking about which checkers to move. There is only one sensible way to go about it and that is anchoring your seventh point.

The seventh point is also called your bar point because it is next to the bar in your outer board. The bar is where checkers go when they've been "hit". And while there are other possible moves with a six-one roll, this is the most rational choice because surprisingly, there is just one disadvantage against the many advantages of this opening move.

There are three benefits to the six-one start. The advantages of making the seventh point include building a blockade, making an outer board point, and filling in the gap between your eighth and over-stacked sixth points.

Anchoring the seventh point allows you to create a three-point blockade that the two opposing checkers on your first point would find a little hard to penetrate. Also, the three-point blockade is halfway to building a crucial prime between your inner and outer boards.

Making an outer board point leads to less bearing-in difficulty towards the end-game. Bearing-in is advancing your checkers to your inner board so they can be borne off. Filling in the gap between your eighth and sixth points will delay your opponents' checkers from escaping your inner board when a high number is subsequently rolled. And besides, filling-in that space is especially hard halfway through the game.

The only disadvantage to this approach of anchoring the bar point is that you won't be making a home or inner board point. While inner board points are very valuable to secure at the game's onset, there's simply no way that it can be done with a starting six-one dice combination.

When you get a six-one start in backgammon, know that there's only one sensible way to make the opening move. Make your bar or seventh point. While it's not an inner board point, this is the finest point you can anchor with a six-one opening.

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