How to use the Doubling Block in Backgammon

During the course of the game one player may gain a small strategic and mathematical advantage through a series of favorable dice rolls. The player must then consider doubling.

If he decides to do so, he turns the doubling block, which has been placed in the center of the bar with the number sixty-four facing up, so that the number two is facing up. He then places the cube on the fram that surrounds the board to the left of his opponent. He says, "I double."

The opponent should then think whether the doubler's position is too advantageous to take the risk of accepting the double.

If the double is accepted, the game will be played for double the stakes originally set. In other words, if you were playing for one dollar a game, the stakes are now two dollars a game.

Generally speaking, a double given early in the game can be accepted more readily than later, when a more definite advantage has been established.

One other thing to consider is the fact that should the double be accepted, the person doubling cannot double the next time. The doubling block is now "in control" of the player accepting the double. In other words, if the acceptee now throws a series of advantageous rolls (for instance, a series of doubles), and in turn finds himself ahead and in a more advantageous position to win the game, he may then say to the original doubler, "I double."

The cube would then be turned to number four. Should the player accept the double, the stakes are then four times the original stakes.

There are several other things to keep in mind when it comes to doubling. If the opponent feels he is too far behind and doesn't wish to accept the double, he then says "I don't take it." The player giving the double wins the game and the stakes and marks this on the score sheet.

People who enjoy figuring odds and who are mathematically inclined should bear in mind the chances they have of winning the game when they are doubled. If the disadvantage of losing one game is only slight, the double may be taken because even though the odds are against the player at that moment, the fact that the doubling block is in his control reduces these odds.

A player accepting a double should also, before deciding, make fairly certain that he cannot lose a gammon (double game) or a backgammon (triple game).

In considering whether or not to accept a double, keep in mind that the average player has a tendency to accept a double that is not really advantageous. He will chance it, hoping for a roll of good double (fives or sixes), which would put him ahead. Even though it's true that your chances are equal this is not a good idea especially if your opponent is running hot.

Following is a list of factors to keep in mind in deciding whether to accept or refuse a double. 1. Is the opponent a good or bad player? 2. Is he unpredictable? 3. Does he have the habit of refusing close doubles? 4. Are the stakes high enough for him to care? 5. What is the score at that point? 6. Is his position overwhelmingly advantageous? 7. Is the player hot or cold that day?

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