Dutch Backgammon commences with all the stones an the bar. A player must enter all fifteen stones before making any other move, and he may not hit a blot until he has brought at least one stone around to his home table.
Here the strategy is to hold three or four of the highest points in the adverse inner table as long as possible, forcing the opponent eventually to place some stones "out of play" on the lower points. A player who is convinced that he does not get his share of high rolls at regular Backgammon - and it is astonishing how many persons are so ill-favoured - should play Dutch Backgammon, for here, during most of the game, the advantage lies with the player rolling lower numbers.
Russian Backgammon differs from all other variants, in that both players enter their stones in the same table, and move in the same direction around the board to the same home table.
No stones are placed on the board at the outset. After entering two stones, the player is free to use subsequent rolls either to enter more stones, or to move those already on the board. Blots are hit in the usual way, and must be duly entered before the owner may make any other move. Doublets are used twice over, as in regular Backgammon, but then the player also moves in accordance with the complementary doublets. The complement of a number is its difference from 7. For example, having rolled 4-4, the player moves four 4s and four 3s. Of course, if he cannot absorb all the 4s, he may not take any 3s. When he can use all eight numbers, he rolls again.
A feature of the strategy is to establish and maintain blockades of three or four adjacent points ahead of the opponent, so as to make it impossible for him to use a doublet.
Snake is an odd way of setting up the stones for a regular Backgammon game. The Black stones are set up as usual: five on B6, three on B8, five on W12, and two on W1. White has only six stones on the board, two each on B1, B2, B3, the other nine being on the bar. All other rules are as in Backgammon.
The advantage in this game probably lies with Black, but the White side is easier to play in the beginning. White has a clear objective: to enter his stones, hit blots and gain time to form a prime, then walk his prime around the board until it becomes a shutout, trapping one or more Black stones on the bar. Even if Black has begun bearing off before these stones are trapped, he stands to lose unless he has borne off more than five or six stones. A prime, the occupation of six adjacent points, forms a barrier that adverse stones cannot hurdle. It is walked forward by the aid of the three extra stones. A stone is laid, as a blot, just ahead of the prime, and then is covered from the rearmost point of the prime on roll of a 6. If the stone trapped by the prime hits this forward blot, the stone is simply entered and brought around again to the same position. This is the ideal picture of the walking prime, but it may be shattered by untimely doublets, 5-5 or 4-4. Nevertheless, once the prime is formed, the opponent cannot well accept a voluntary double.
The objective for Black is fairly clear, but more difficult to realize in the early stages. If Black tries to bring all his stones into his home board in a hurry, on three points at most, he is likely to have to leave a blot sooner or later. White will vacate the 2-point or 3-point to force blotting, when Black rolls a 4 or a 3. To avoid the hazards of such an ending, Black should try in the earliest stages to split the White forces. He should maintain a blockade of three or four points outside his bar as long as possible, hoping that White will have to enter all his stones, then take some out from the 3-point on 5s and 6s.
Snake poses in an extreme form the problems that arise in regular Backgammon,
when one player goes for a back game. Having suffered several hits, and thus
being far behind in time, a player may decide to "go to the whole hog", and
get as many runners into the adverse home table as possible. Tyro Backgammon
players are apt to assist rather than hinder an opponent bent on a back game,
by hitting too many blots.
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