Backgammon articles

Online Backgammon Assessment and Counting Pips

Counting pips is a technique used to better assess your game and decide on the best course of action. In this guide we will show you how counting pips is performed and how to use the information from the pip count for you advantage.

Most online backgammon players do not use any backgammon strategies and just play "as they feel". When you double them and raise the wager they will look quickly around the board, look at some basic things such as how many checkers are in the home board still, and according to a non-calculated assessment make the decision whether to accept the double bet or not. In order to asses the player's position and the best backgammon strategy to choose from, it is not necessary for you to become an expect backgammon player, you just need to know some basic steps regarding counting pips.

This backgammon strategy of evaluation is called "counting pips", and is among the most common used backgammon strategies. To better evaluate the position of your opponent and of your own, we first need to establish the pip-count method. In this page we will establish shortcuts that will make you pip counting much faster. This guide is for people who understand the basic rules of online backgammon so if you don’t you should read the Backgammon Rules first.

Counting Pips Through Opposing Checkers

When two checkers are lined up at an online backgammon game, one above the other, the pip count for them both will always be 25. This backgammon strategy means that one checker is in the upper board at point 16, and the other checker is directly below it at point 9.

Online Backgammon Strategy of Counting Pips Trough a Block Of Checkers

When a board has a block of checkers that all start off at the 1st point, it can easily be calculated:

  • A block of 10 checkers will always total 30 pips.
  • A block of 8 checkers will always total 20 pips.
  • A block of 6 checkers will always total 12 pips.

If the block of checkers doesn't start at the 1st point, then we add to the equation according to the gap between the 1st point and the block. If for example our block is made of 10 checkers, and it starts at the 3rd point, this means the block starts after two vacant points that we need to add, so we add 2(vacancies)*10(num of checkers)=20. This method or counting tips is very easy to use, even though it is only applicable to blocking games.

Counting pips of a block in a backgammon game, in case the block has a gap in the middle, is still counted regularly as a block, but you need to add the gap to the equation. If it is a gap of 1 point, and the rest of the checkers after the gap are 6 checkers, we add 1*6 to the equation. Using this backgammon strategy will enable you to count pips for the whole block rather than add it one checker at a time.

Counting Pips Using Center Point Blocks

This is a very simple online backgammon strategy for counting pips for any number of blocks.

  • If you have a block that sits on any odd number of points, let's say a 6 checker block starting at the 3rd point, it's center block is on the 4th point. All you have to do is consider the whole block as sitting in the center point, and then the calculation is 6(num of checkers)*4(the point) =24.
  • If you have a block sitting on an even number of points, let's say an 8 block starting from the 2nd point, the center point between the block is 3.5, and so the calculation is 3.5(center)*8(num of checkers).

Comparison Method

The comparison method means you compare your pips to your opponent's pips and see who behind, thus making the calculation of counting pips easier. This is used in an online backgammon game when you want to find out who's ahead or when you're in an online backgammon race and you don't have time to count every pip.To calculate in this method:

  • Start at the 1-point, and for each point that is occupied by your checkers or your opponent's checkers, subtract the number of checkers you have on one side of the board to the number your opponent has on the opposite side of the board.
  • Now multiply the subtraction with the position of the point that the checker was occupying.
  • Finally add all those results and you'll see the difference between your pip count and your opponents.

Now that you've learned how to count pips you still need to practice it with a real online backgammon game. Don’t worry if it takes you time at first and keep practicing with this page close at hand.

Stanley Ruther, Editorial Staff
March 23, 2006

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