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Why is 5 Important in Backgammon?

Discover the strategic significance of the 5-point in backgammon. Learn how prioritizing this key position can lead to victory. Dive into our blog now!

Have you ever marveled at the intense focus seasoned backgammon players place on securing the 5-point right from the outset? It's no mere coincidence; it's a calculated move rooted in centuries of strategic gameplay. Backgammon, with its ancient origins and intricate tactics, is not merely a game of chance but a battlefield where every move counts. Today, we embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries surrounding the 5-point in backgammon and uncover its pivotal role in crafting victorious strategies.

Backgammon boasts a rich tapestry of history, dating back thousands of years to ancient Mesopotamia. Over the ages, it has evolved from a pastime of kings to a beloved game enjoyed by enthusiasts worldwide. Its allure lies not only in its simplicity but in its strategic depth, where players must balance luck with skill to outmaneuver their opponents. This blend of luck and strategy forms the backbone of backgammon's gameplay, making it a timeless classic cherished by players across generations.

As we delve into the heart of backgammon strategy, it becomes evident that the 5-point holds a special significance among players. It serves as a linchpin, a cornerstone upon which winning strategies are built. In the following sections, we will explore the multifaceted importance of the 5-point in backgammon, uncovering its strategic nuances and tactical implications.

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Understanding the Golden Point

In the realm of backgammon, the term "golden point" holds a prestigious status, often synonymous with the 5-point. This critical juncture on the board serves as a pivotal landmark, dictating the flow of the game and shaping strategic decisions. It's more than just a point; it's a gateway to victory.

Central to the concept of the golden point is the notion of the "golden anchor," a term that denotes the opponent's 5-point (your 20-point). This strategic stronghold serves as a fortress, thwarting attempts to establish a prime and impeding progress towards victory. Understanding this dynamic is key to mastering the intricacies of backgammon strategy.

Moreover, in the lexicon of modern backgammon, both players' 5-points carry immense strategic weight. They are not mere markers on the board but strategic strongholds that can turn the tide of battle. Recognizing the significance of these points is crucial for players looking to elevate their game to new heights.

Why is the 5-Point So Important?

Formation of a Prime

One of the primary strategies in backgammon is forming a "prime"—a sequence of consecutive occupied points that block the opponent's checkers from advancing. Securing the 5-point, along with the 6-point, lays the foundation for an effective prime. At the start of the game, you already control the 6-point, making the 5-point your immediate target. When both points are held, your opponent's chances of rolling a 5 or 6 to re-enter from the bar are significantly reduced, forcing them to waste valuable rolls and pips.

Blocking Re-entry

The strategic placement of the 5-point deep within your home board creates a formidable barrier for your opponent. If they are sent to the bar, their ability to re-enter is hindered by your control of this key position. This can lead to multiple missed opportunities for your opponent, giving you a considerable advantage.

Building Towards a Closed Board

In the best-case scenario, securing the 5-point is a step towards creating a "closed board," where all six points in your home board are occupied. This leaves your opponent with no entry points from the bar, allowing you to freely bear off your checkers and win the game. The 5-point is a critical component of this strategy, making it a top priority in your opening moves.

The Early Game Battle for the 5-Point

The importance of the 5-point is most evident in the early stages of a game. Both players are aware of its strategic value, leading to a fierce battle to claim this territory. It is often worth taking calculated risks to secure the 5-point, even if it means exposing your checkers to potential hits. The long-term benefits of holding this position usually outweigh the temporary setbacks.

For instance, if you roll a 3-1 in your opening move, the recommended play is to move a checker from your 8-point to the 5-point and another from your 6-point to the 5-point. This not only secures the golden point but also helps in unstacking your heavily populated 6-point, setting you up for a more balanced and flexible game.

Why is 5 Important in Backgammon?

The Role of the 20-Point: The Golden Anchor

While your 5-point is critical, your opponent's 5-point (the 20-point) is equally vital. Often referred to as the "golden anchor," holding the 20-point can disrupt your opponent's strategies significantly. It provides a safe landing spot for your checkers if they are sent to the bar and allows you to launch counter-attacks from a secure position. Additionally, the 20-point offers excellent coverage of the outer board, increasing your chances of hitting advancing checkers.

Strategic Insights from Backgammon Masters

Backgammon literature is rich with advice on the importance of the 5 points. Paul Magriel, a backgammon legend, often emphasized the significance of the 20-point, referring to it as the golden anchor. He highlighted that securing this point allows for daring maneuvers and provides substantial security throughout the game.

Similarly, Barclay Cooke, in his work "Paradoxes and Probabilities," stresses the early game tactic of making both 5-points as soon as possible. According to him, holding these points gives players the confidence to engage in bold strategies, knowing they have a strong foundation.

Practical Tips for Securing the 5-Point

To consistently secure the 5-point, players should focus on:

Early Slotting: Take risks in the opening moves to slot the 5-point, even if it means temporarily leaving a blot.

Balanced Play: Ensure your checkers are well-distributed to maintain flexibility and adaptability.

Calculated Risks: Weigh the benefits of securing the 5-point against the potential hits. Often, the long-term strategic gain justifies the risk.


The importance of the 5 points in backgammon cannot be overstated. By mastering the strategies surrounding the golden point and the golden anchor, players can significantly enhance their gameplay. The 5-point is the cornerstone of an effective prime, a barrier against re-entry, and a step towards a closed board. Aspiring backgammon players should prioritize securing this key position to gain a decisive edge over their opponents.

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