Bray’s Learning Curve: Deep Thought

2021 - Experts 41

Match Play. Red trails 2-4 to 5. How should Red play 44? XGID=-aAABBBB-A——-bbcBcbbB-:1:-1:1:44:2:4:0:5:10 This is a complex problem. The key is to determine the correct game plan and then find moves that support that plan. Trailing by 36 pips after the roll means that Red cannot give up his ace-point anchor as that surrenders a […]

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Backgammon 101

Are you interested in learning backgammon, but do not know where to begin? Then our Backgammon 101 series is for you!     We provide relaxed, easy-to-understand, and interactive sessions.  You will learn how to set up the board, how to count shots, basic probability, basic strategy, how to use the doubling cube, and more!  > Register to Attend Backgammon 101 When:  Monthly on 2nd Sunday […]

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Prime Time BG Summer 2021


On our cover: Karen Davis! She is our newest inductee to the American Backgammon Hall of Fame. Her impressive achievements, as a tournament organizer and competitor as well as on behalf of the Federation, are reprised. Marty Storer analyzes 21 positions from her winning match against Ray Fogerlund from this year’s U.S. Open, in which […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Outer Board Control

2021 - Beginners 41

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 64? XGID=—–bE-B–B-C—ddeB-A—:0:0:1:64:0:0:3:0:10   Red trails by twenty-nine pips after the roll but has superb control of the outer boards. Meanwhile thirteen of White’s checkers are in stacks on only three points. The key to this position is for Red to keep that outer board control. For that reason a […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Simple Connectivity

Basic Beginners 31

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 52? XGID=-a—-E-C–AfD—c-e-A–A-:0:0:1:52:0:0:3:0:10 A classic second move problem. How should Red play this 52? The two is very clear 13/11, making an important outer board point. The question is how to play the five. There are three choices: 6/1*, 21/16 and 13/8. 6/1* usefully takes a tempo from White but […]

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2021 Local Club Tournament of Champions


Congratulations to Steve Sax, winner of the 2021 Local Club Tournament of Champions! The 2021 Local Club Tournament of Champions was held on the new USBGF Online Tournament Series.  26 USBGF Prime Club champions were selected to represent their club in this event. Steve Sax beat Frank Raposa in the 17-point final match. For more information […]

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Brays’ Learning Curve: Security and Asset

2021 - Experts 40

Match Play. Red trails 4-6 to 11. How should Red play 22?   XGID=–ABaBCACa—-A-ac-c-ac-bB:0:0:1:22:4:6:0:11:10  Over the board Red chose the very safe bar/21(2)*. Given the score and the number of White blots this was much too passive. Red has the opportunity to secure an anchor with Bar/22(2) and then think about the other two twos.There […]

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USBGF Divisional – February 2021 Masters


Congratulations to Sol Sassoon, winner of the February 2021 USBGF Masters Divisional! Sol defeated Arvel Toten in the 21-point final. Erwin Hom and Jerry Ungar finished 3/4 in the 19-point semi-final round. The OTS Monthly tournaments are open to all USBGF members. For more information about this tourney and other online events go to

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Patience is a virtue

2021 - Intermediates 40

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 61? XGID=—–ACABA—B-AcabebbBB–:0:0:1:61:0:0:0:7:10 Red is playing a perfectly timed 2-3 back game. Unexpectedly White has left him an early shot. Should Red hit that shot or should he bide his time? It is tempting to hit with 23/17*, 6/5. The problem with that move is that Red only has eight […]

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Congratulations to Art Benjamin, winner of the February 2021 OTS Monthly! Art defeated Peter Wisniewski in the 11-point final. Kevin Jones and PJ Macali finished 3/4 in the semi-final round. The OTS Monthly tournaments are open to all USBGF members. For more information about this tourney and other online events go to

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Pick-A-Pro Jackpots

Pick-A-Pro Jakpots

Players can register for the next tournament by sending their $20 entry fee by PayPal to (friends and family) – in the note field, include Pick-A-Pro Jackpot, email address, and GridGammon username Each event will consist of an eight player bracket, 9 point matches, with the winner receiving a free one hour lesson from […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: When in doubt

2021 - Beginners 40

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 65? XGID=–AABbD-C-C-aa—b-cbbb-A-:1:1:1:65:0:0:3:0:10 This is a type of position that I frequently see misplayed by beginners. Seeing the two blots in his home board Red decides that hitting with 24/13* is far too risky and chooses the waiting play 8/2, 6/1 or (better) 10/4, 8/3. This is muddy thinking. White […]

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Resuming the ABT Live Tour


  In April of last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Backgammon Federation (USBGF) unfortunately had to cancel the American Backgammon Tour (ABT) point race. It’s been a challenging time. We have been forced to navigate the momentous impact that this pandemic has had on our daily lives, the lives of our loved ones and, on the mind-sport we love. However, the situation in the U.S. is rapidly changing for the better.  As vaccines are rolled out  — and prove to be […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Double Sixes

Basic Beginners 30

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 66?  XGID=-a–a-EBC—dC—cBdb—–:0:0:1:66:0:0:3:0:10 I often see this type of position misplayed so thought I would cover the topic. Computers have taught us that if you start the ace-point you should normally make it and so 7/1(2)* will be part of the solution. The most common error I see here is […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Too Many Choices

2021 - Experts 39

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 33?   XGID=a-BBBaCa—-bB–AAbccA-bA-:1:-1:1:33:0:0:3:0:10 This position came up in a group training session. There are a huge number of possible moves with Red’s double threes as there often are with small doubles. The majority of students wanted to hit with 13/7* and then think about the other two threes with […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: A Tricky Question

2021 - Intermediates 39

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 53?   XGID=-BB-B-C-b–B-B-b-cBbb-bb–:0:0:1:53:0:0:3:0:10 Red could play safe with 6/1, 4/1 but what will he do next time and meanwhile he has trashed his board. However, that play is better than 6/1, 4/1 which permanently kills two checkers. It may look close, but in fact 11/3 is a blunder and […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Always have a game plan

2021 - Beginners 39

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 11? XGID=–aBB-D-BA—A–Aacbcc-bB-:1:1:1:11:0:0:2:0:10 Red has to decide how he is going to win the game. There are two approaches. Firstly, he could try to blitz White with a move such as 6/5(2), 3/2(2)*. Secondly, he could try to prime White’s rear checker. Over the board the first approach was tried […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Early Game Tactics

Basic Beginners 29

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 51? XGID=-ba–aE-C—dEA–c-d—-A-:0:0:1:51:0:0:3:0:10 This is a demonstration that playing safe in the opening is rarely correct. The checkers need to be deployed to useful positions. Remember the basics: make new points, unstack the heavy points, get the back checkers moving and hit where possible. Over the board Red played 14/8 […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Monte Carlo

2021 - Experts 38

Match Play. Red trails 6-10 to 21. How should Red play 51? XGID=-BaBBBC—–bBc—-cBc-ba-:1:-1:1:51:6:10:0:21:10 This position is taken from Steiger (Red) versus Magriel (White) at Monte Carlo 1985. The game featured in the 1985 documentary on those World Championships. For the full video see Steiger chose to break his anchor with 20/15, 6/5 but we […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: A Blast from the Past

2021 - Intermediates 38

Match Play. Red trails 2-4 to 11. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? Unlimited Games. Should Red redouble? If redoubled, should White take? XGID=-bBB-aFBB——-Abccca—-:1:1:1:00:2:4:0:11:10 This position is taken from Jeff Ward’s 1982 book ‘Winning is More Fun’. Red was Nack Ballard and White was Kent Goulding and this was the final of the […]

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Prime Time BG Spring 2021


NOTE REGARDING THE PRINT ISSUE OF PrimeTime: Problems within the U.S. Postal Service will affect delivery times. Subscribers may not receive their print copies for several weeks. Delivery times may vary. Our Spring 2021 issue features the marathon 2020 Ultimate Backgammon Championship final, played in January: Mochy Mochizuki (perennial Giant of Backgammon #1) vs. relative newcomer Hideaki […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Stop and think

2021 - Beginners 38

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 62? XGID=-a—BD-B—dEa–d-e—-B-:0:0:1:62:0:0:3:0:10  Given that Red has the stronger board he can make a bold play so 13/5 is somewhat too passive. The choice is between the ‘regulation’ 24/18, 13/11 and the more aggressive 13/11, 13/7. The first play seeks to provoke action around White’s bar-point with the idea of […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Escape or Build?

Basic Beginners 28

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 42? XGID=aCDCD—–A———-bbce-:2:-1:1:61:1:2:0:5:10  This a binary choice. Make your 5-pt or step up with 23/21, 7/3? It might seem that Red has plenty of time to escape the rear checker but that is not the case. He has less than ten pips to play with if he doesn’t roll a […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Small Margins

2021 - Experts 37

Match Play. Red trails 2-4 to 7. How should Red play 52? XGID=—bBBBBB–AcAb-Ac-bb-AaA-:1:-1:1:52:2:4:0:5:10 This is a tricky position. I think if you play on automatic you will choose 24/22, 16/11. If you want to keep pressure on White’s blot on her 2-pt then 16/11, 13/11 would be the choice of many and that play is […]

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A New Website is Coming!


The new website will be easy to use and help you find more opportunities to play, learn, and connect with other backgammon players.    Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash  Connect with Other Backgammon Players   As passionate as we are about the game, we are equally passionate about our community. That’s why the new website will help bring backgammon players together at all times – online!      The USBGF social network will be similar to Facebook but exclusively for backgammon players.   […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Back Game Strategies

2021 - Intermediates 37

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 54? XGID=aacbCBBBB-B—–aa-bbBb—:1:-1:1:54:0:0:3:0:10  White has a reasonably well-timed 2-3 back game and a home board that could collapse with a sequence of high numbers. Red could attempt to give White a super-timed back game by playing 21/17*, 21/16*. However, more important than this idea is to stop White from creating […]

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Women of Backgammon World Champions

The Women of Backgammon group invited the three living female world champions to talk about their experiences at the Monte Carlo World Championship. The three champions are: Lee Genud (1981), Katie Scalamandre (2000) and Akiko Yazawa (2014, 2018). This is the first and only time these women have been together at the same time! Organized […]

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Bray’s Learning Curve: An Early Problem

2021 - Beginners 37

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 64? XGID=-a–BaD-B—eE—Bccb—–:0:0:1:64:0:0:3:0:10 We can quickly reject 8/2, 6/2 which creates an ugly structure and one that is difficult to put back together again. Giving up the 8-pt to make the 2-pt is not a great trade. The choice is really between 13/3 and 17/13, 17/11. 13/3 keeps the defensive […]

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Minnesota Open ABT Online! Streaming!

MN Open promo card (4)

The Minnesota Open can be followed live this weekend: Find online brackets on our tournament Challonge page. Commentary of the finals matches of our ABT Open and Masters events will be live on the U.S. Backgammon Federation YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook.

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Bray’s Learning Curve: Combating a Prime

Basic Beginners 27

Unlimited Games. How should Red play 42? XGID=-a—-EBB—fD—abcb—B-:0:0:1:42:0:0:3:0:10 Our opponent has made their 5-point early on in proceedings and is on the way to building a useful prime. In these circumstances it is normally correct for us as Red to split our rear checkers in response to combat that prime. That would imply that Red […]

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