Backgammon Rules

The following information will introduce you to the basics of backgammon. You'll learn about the object of the game, how to move checkers and how to operate the doubling cube. Playing backgammon is fun and easy and once you’ve mastered the basics, you’re ready to start winning.

Object of the Game

The aim of backgammon is to transport all your checkers around the game board toward your home area or inner board. Once you've done this, you need to remove all your checkers off the board entirely. The first player to do so wins the game.

A game commences when both players take turns at rolling a single die. The player who receives the highest number on the die is given the first turn. In instances of a tied number, the players roll again to determine who goes first.

Once the order of the game has been established, it’s time for opening rolls. The first player will roll two dice to start the game and the total pips they display dictate how the player moves his checkers on the backgammon board. Dice must land flat on the board and should be rolled again if either falls on an angle. The board consists of four quarters divided into six points represented by black and white triangles. Each point represents a playing space which checkers are moved across based on the dice pips.

How To Move Checkers

White checkers move counter-clockwise in a game of backgammon from the bottom left of the board to the top left. Black checkers move clockwise from the top left corner to the bottom left. The same checker can be used to take advantage of two moves or the total pips displayed on both dice.

You can move your checker onto a point on the board providing it is a) occupied by no more than one checker belonging to your opponent, b) the point is unoccupied and c) the point is already home to one or more of your own checkers.

Hitting Checkers

You can “hit” one of your opponent's checkers by moving your piece onto the same point as his. This only applies for one checker. Multiple checkers cannot be hit. A single checker is referred to as a “blot” and once hit is removed and placed on the raised centre part of the board known as the bar. To retrieve the checker, your opponent must reintroduce it into your home area and start its journey around the board again. As the aim of the game is to clear the board of all your checkers in the fastest way possible, it is advisable to hit as many of your opponent's blots as you can.

Moving Off the Bar

Hitting your opponent's blots slows down his game plan due to the fact that he must play to remove his checker from the bar before moving any of his other checkers. To do so, he must roll the dice to obtain numbers corresponding to a free space in his home board. This can be any point that is not already home to more than one of his other blots. If your opponent is unable to move his blot back onto the board from the bar, his turn is forfeit. Two or more checkers must be reintroduced into the game separately.

Rolling Doubles

Rolling doubles refers to rolling two of the same number on both dice. This entitles a player to move four times the amount of the number rolled. Obviously this can make or break a game as a player can move up to four separate checkers around the board during one turn.

Bearing Off

Bearing off is the final process in backgammon after you have moved all your checkers into your home board. When you roll the dice, you may either remove one checker from the point of the number corresponding to the dice roll, or move multiple checkers a number of spaces dictated by the roll. If you have a checker situated on a point that is a lower number than the dice roll, you can remove it as long as you have no other checkers on higher points.

The Doubling Cube

The doubling cube introduces an exciting new element of risk into the game of backgammon. In formal situations where players are competing for money, the doubling cube can help to raise the stakes significantly. The cube is six-sided and numbered 64, 32, 17, 8, 4, and 2. At the beginning of a game, it is placed with the 64 facing up and is considered to be in a neutral or centred position.

If a player wants to raise the stakes, he can pick up the game and offer it to the other player showing the 2 face up. This effectively doubles the current wager on the game. His opponent can choose to accept or decline the doubling cube. If he accepts it, the wager is doubled and he gains control of the cube. If he declines, he automatically loses the game for the current value of the cube.

Based on the acceptance of the cube, the game continues with the player in possession of the cube free to double the stakes again at any stage. Once the wager has been accepted, control of the cube passes over to the opposite player. The player who is first to remove all his checkers from the board wins the game based upon the stakes displaying on the doubling cube. This can be up to 64 times the amount of the original wager.


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