Bray's Learning Curve

Each week, author Chris Bray lends his sharp insight and easy-to-understand analysis to help you improve your game. 

Chris is the author of multiple backgammon books, including Backgammon for Dummies, and is the backgammon columnist for The Times of London. 

Expert Backgammon Player and TeacherChris Bray Photo

A New Puzzle Every Week

Every Monday Chris posts an interesting backgammon position on our Facebook page.  We encourage you to join in the lively discussion and return here to our website on Tuesdays to read his extended analysis. 

Bray’s Learning Curve in-depth analysis is one of the great benefits of a USBGF membership.
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It is just too easy to hit with the four, 13/9*, and then work out what to do with two. 13/11 or 22/20 or perhaps even 9/7 or 8/6?

“When in doubt, hit,” is a well-known backgammon maxim but

Hopefully nobody would double this position with a live cube. Red is the favourite, but the position is not volatile enough to warrant a double. White has a take but not a beaver.


There are many elements to Red’s game plan but his top priority is to make his 3-pt. Escaping his rear checkers is important but if he can lock up his 3-pt and  make a full six-point

Always have a game plan. 

Here Red is way behind in the race and has a weaker home board. Both these elements indicate that splitting the rear checkers is not the right plan.


This position occurs after Red opens with 61 (13/7, 8/7) and White responds with double threes played 24/21(2), 13/10(2). This is all about understanding game planning. When

This is a difficult problem. Red’s position looks stronger than it actually is, and this has deceived many of my students.

It is true that Red has twenty-nine numbers to cover the ace-point

Coming in on the ace-point is a definite non-starter so bar/20 is mandatory and then it is a question of how to play the ace.

Playing 7/6 is too weak and Red does not want six checkers on

“When in doubt, hit” is a well-known backgammon maxim”. Knowing when not to apply it is an important and necessary skill in becoming an expert player.

Red can hit here with 13/7* but