Backgammon is a fantastic game that is really fun to play with friends and family. It involves a combination of strategy and luck and can be played by kids as well as adults.
It is one of the oldest game out there. In 2004, Excavations in Shahr-e Sūkhté “[The] Burnt City” in Iran have shown that a board race game existed nearly 5000 years ago.
Here, I will show you the complete backgammon rules for beginners.
- Number of players: 2
- Age 6 to adult
- Equipment: – backgammon board, two sets of 15 checkers, 2 dice (or 2 pairs of dice, on for each player), dice cups.
- Years active: World’s oldest backgammon game 4400 years old
- Genre(s): Board game, Race game, Dice game
- Setup time 10–30 seconds
- Playing time 5–60 minutes
- Skill(s) required Strategy, tactics, counting, probability
What is the goal of backgammon?
The object in backgammon is to move all of your checkers around the board into your home board (or inner board) and then out of the board (to bear the checkers off). The first player to get all his checkers off the board will win the game.
Setting up the backgammon boardback to menu ↑
Understanding the backgammon board
- On the backgammon board, you can find a total of 24 narrow triangles, called “points”.
- The board is made of four area called quadrants. Each quadrant contains six points.
-The first quadrant is the black player home board and has points 1 to 6.
-The second quadrant is the black player outer board and has points 7 to 12.
-The next quadrant has points 13 to 18 (white player outer board).
-The last quadrant has points 19 to 24 (white player home board).
- The vertical strip down the middle of the board is called the “bar” and it is where checkers are placed after they are “hit” or “sent back”
How to set up the backgammon board
To set up the board, each player must place:
- Five checkers on his 6 point
- Three checkers on his 8 point
- Five checkers on his 13 point
- Two checkers on his 24 point.
If you look at the picture on the left, once the black checkers are placed like described above, the white checkers are placed in an exact mirror image of the black checkers.
Black player point 1 is white player point 24. Black player point 19 is white player point 6.back to menu ↑
The doubling cube
- Doubling Cube is a bit like a regular dice, but just a bit larger. It has the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 printed on its faces.
- The doubling cube is used to gamble, and for keeping track of the increase in stakes of the game and the player who next has the right to double.
- It is an optional element of the backgammon game. It is probably used more by more experienced players but can add an extra flavor to your games, even if you are a beginner as it adds an element of strategy.
- Learn how to use the backgammon doubling cube.
Who goes first in backgammon?
- Each player puts a single dice in his dice cup and roll.
- The player who rolls the highest number will start the game.
- If both players roll the same number, then they will have to roll the dice again.
- The numbers rolled will count as the first moves for the player with the highest number. For example, if one player rolled a 2 and the other rolled a 1, then the player who rolled the 2 would go first and use the 2 and 1 as his first dice roll.
How to move the backgammon checkers?
Even though the board is squared, you have to think of the board rather as a circle. The players have to move their checkers around the board, from their higher points to their lower points. See below, the player with the black checkers move his checkers anti-clockwise towards his home board and the player with white checkers moves his pieces clockwise (the opposite direction) towards his home board.back to menu ↑
Rolling the dice in Backgammon
- The number on the dice dictates how many spaces (points) you can move your checker.
- Use the dice cup to roll you dice
- Both dice must come out of the dice cup, if only one come out, it is an invalid roll and you will need to roll the dice again.
- You need to roll the dice on the right side of the board
- Dice can’t come out of the board, or lands on a checker, or lean against the edge of the board. It would be considered as invalid roll and you will have to roll the dice again.
Moving your checkers
- You need to move you checkers to an open point. An open point is a point with no opponent checker or with 1 opponent checker. You can’t move your checker on a point occupied by 2 or more of your opponent checkers.
- You can have as many as you want of your checkers on a single point.
- If only one number can be played, the player must play that number.
- When either number can be played but not both, the higher number must be played,
- If neither number can be played, the player will lose his turn.
If you roll of four and three, one checker can be moved four points, while another checker can be moved three points (provided that the points are not occupied by two or more of the opponent’s checkers). You can also move a single checker by the total number shown on the two dice (4+3).back to menu ↑
Rolling on doubles
If a player rolls doubles, he gets four moves with the number shown on a die. If the player can’t use all four numbers, he must play as many numbers as he can.back to menu ↑
End of turn in backgammon
The player turn is over once that player puts his two dice back in his dice cup.
Hitting and Re-Entering
- A point occupied by a single checker is a vulnerable point. It is called a “blot”
- A “blot” can be “hit” by your opponent checkers.
- When a blot is hit by a checker, it is sent to the “bar”
- If your checker is hit and sent to the bar, you need to use the next turn to roll the dice and try to reenter the board in your opponent’s home board.
- You can’t play any checkers on the board before you reenter all the checkers on the bar
- If you only had one checker to enter, then you can use the other number that you rolled to move one of your other checkers.
- You can’t use the sum of the two numbers to choose a point. For example, if you roll a 5 and a 3, you can’t move your checker onto the 8th point. You can only move your checker onto the 5th or the 3rd point to reenter.
How do you bear off in backgammon?
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How to win the game in backgammon
- The first player that gets all his checkers of the board wins the game.
- Bearing off is the process of moving your checkers off the board.
- The gammon. If you bear off all of your checkers before your opponent bears off any of his, he is gammoned. He will lose twice the value on the doubling cube.
- The backgammon. If you bore off all of your checkers while your opponent still has checkers on the bar or on your home board, then your opponent is backgammon. He will lose three times the value on the doubling cube.
Move you checkers in your home board
- You can only start to bear off you checkers if ALL you checkers are into your home board.
- Keep in mind that if your opponent has a checker on the bar, he can reenter on your home board and hit your blot.
- If he does so, you will have to start with your checker from the last point (your opponent home board). You won’t be able to bear off you checkers until that checker is back into your own home board.
- You won’t be able to bear off you checkers until that checker is back into the home board.
bearing off the checkers
- If you roll a 6 and a 4, you can bear off the checker from the 6th points and the one on the 4th points.
- You can use a higher roll to bear off a die on a lower point. If you roll a 6-5 and you only have a few checkers remaining in the 3rd and 2nd points, you can bear off two of these checkers.
- You must move a lower die roll before a higher one even if it means you can’t fully use the full value of a die. For example, if you have a checker in the 6 point and roll a 6-2, you must first move the checker over 2 to the 4 point and then bear it off using the 6 value.
- If you have a die to play and no checker to bear off, you must move a checker according to the number on the die.
For example, if you only have two checkers remaining in the 6th and 5th points and you roll a 2-1, then you can move the checker on the 6th point over to the 4th point, and the checker on the 5th point over to the 4th point.
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Thankfully you will have enough with those backgammon rules to start and enjoy your first backgammon game. This is really an enjoyable game for everyone in the family. So get going and let’s play!
Thanks for those explanations. The are very clear and simple. I am trying to learn how to play backgammon at the moment and this article is a great help!
Carry on the good work!