The opening roll is an essential part of backgammon. Though there's really more than one way to play the four-one opening roll, we'll only deal with the two favorite plays.
There are actually four reasonable backgammon plays for the four-one opening roll. First is a 24/23 and a 13/9. Next one is a 13/9 and 6/5. After that is a 13/8. Last would backgammon play would be a 24/23 and a 24/20. We'll only discuss the two favorites among backgammon players since they appear to be more effective than the other two opening rolls.
The first two backgammon plays are the two favorite plays for the four-one opening roll. Each of these moves for this opening roll will be discussed individually. Make sure to take note of each move's advantages and disadvantages as they apply to the four-one opening roll.
By doing a 24/23 and a 13/9 play for this particular opening roll we are splitting the back checkers early in the game. By doing this play in the opening roll we are also bringing a builder from the 13-point (our mid-point). This appears to be the most popular/favored play for the four-one opening roll though a 13/9 and a 6/5 play doesn't really lag far behind.
Using a checker as a builder on the nine-point opens up a lot of point building opportunities once it's played. With the combination of splitting the back men, it makes a good chance to set up an advanced anchor in the opening roll. It also adds to your coverage of your opponent's outer board in a backgammon game.
By playing a 24/23, any blot on your opponent's side of the board becomes easy targets. This play for the four-one opening roll is a good set up to take control of the opponent's five-point (a must in your next roll if you have the chance). You need either a three-two or four-three to make that advanced anchor.
Most players are of the opinion that the 24/23 and 13/9 backgammon play involves less risk than a 13/9 and 6/5 play.
Let's take a look at the 13/9 and 6/5 play for this opening roll. This used to be the favorite play for the four-one opening roll. Players recoiled when they questioned slotting early in the game before an opponent makes home board points. It seems that the rewards for this play in the opening roll isn't worth the risks in a backgammon game.
By playing a 13/9 you're setting up to make a point on your backgammon home board on the opening roll. The strange thing is that you are also trying to accomplish the same thing when slotting the five-point by doing a 6/5 on this opening roll. A lot of backgammon players find that unnecessary and quite risky.
These are the two favorite plays for the four-one opening roll. The 24/23 and 13/9 is a safer play and the clear favorite while the 13/9 and 6/5 is for those who love to gamble on the opening roll. Take your pick, try out both and see which one will be your favorite play for this opening roll.