How to Play Backgammon? [Beginners Guide]

Guide to Playing Backgammon
Guide to Playing Backgammon

Basic of Backgammon  

Backgammon is a game played by two players on a specially constructed board. Each player controls a set of 15 identical pieces – called checkers or chips, which are differentiated from those of his or her opponent by a contrasting color.   

The set of chips belonging to each player, moves around the board in pre-designated, opposing directions (clock-wise vs counter clock-wise), based on the rolls of a pair of dice.  

Board Of Backgammon Game:

Board
Board

The board is divided into four quadrants, with each player having 12 checkers that they need to move from their starting area to their “home” area, which is the farthest quadrant from their starting point. The first player to bear off all their checkers wins the game.

Players take turns rolling two dice and moving their checkers accordingly. They can move their checkers to any unoccupied point on the board, or to a point where they have more than one checker already placed. If a player lands on a point with only one opponent checker, that checker is “hit” and placed on the bar in the center of the board. The hit checker must be re-entered into the game before the player can make any other moves.

Backgammon requires a combination of luck and skill, as players must make strategic decisions based on the roll of the dice and the placement of their opponent’s checkers. It is a classic game that has been enjoyed for centuries and is still popular today.

Backgammon Gameplay:

Gameplay 
Gameplay 

Broad Objective 

Each player should, through a combination of luck (roll of dice) and offensive and defensive tactics (scoring hits, setting up blocks, etc.), attempt to move all their chips, first to their own respective home quadrants, and then bear them off the board altogether, while attempting to prevent his or her opponent from achieving the same objective. The first player to bear all his or her chips off the board wins the game. 

Direction of Movement   

Player 1 attempts to move all his darker-colored chips, distributed around the board, in a counter-clockwise direction, first to his home – the bottom, right-hand-side – quadrant, before bearing them off the board.   

While player 2 moves his lighter-colored chips distributed around the board, in a clockwise direction, first to his home – the top, right-hand-side –quadrant, before bearing them off the board.     

Guide to Playing Backgammon

Guide to playing Backgammon
Guide to playing Backgammon

1. Set up the board

The board consists of 24 narrow triangles or “points,” arranged in four quadrants of six points each. Each player has a “home” quadrant, with the outermost point in that quadrant being their “1” point. The board also has a bar that separates the two sides.

2. Set up the checkers

Each player has 15 checkers of one color. They should be arranged on the board as follows: two checkers on their 24-point, five checkers on their 13-point, three checkers on their 8-point, and five checkers on their 6-point.

3. Roll the dice

The player with the higher roll goes first and uses both dice to move their checkers. If both players roll the same number, they should roll again until there is a clear winner.

4. Move the checkers

On each turn, the player rolls the dice and moves their checkers accordingly. They can move a single checker the total of the two dice, or two checkers separately (one for each die). The checkers can be moved to any unoccupied point on the board, or to a point where they have more than one checker already placed.

5. Hit and enter

If a player lands on a point with only one opponent checker, that checker is “hit” and placed on the bar in the center of the board. The hit checker must be re-entered into the game before the player can make any other moves.

6. Bearing off

Once a player has moved all their checkers to their home quadrant, they can begin “bearing off” or removing them from the board. The player must roll the exact number needed to bear off each checker. The first player to bear off all their checkers wins the game.

7. Doubling

Backgammon can also be played with a doubling cube, which allows players to increase the stakes of the game. At the start of the game, the doubling cube is placed in the center of the board with the number 64 showing. If a player thinks they are winning and wants to increase the stakes, they can offer to double the current value of the game. The other player can either accept the double and continue playing, or resign and lose the current value of the game. The doubling cube can be used multiple times in a game.

These are just the basics of playing Backgammon. There are many strategies and variations to the game, so it can take some time to become an expert player. But with practice and a little luck, anyone can enjoy the classic game of Backgammon.

8. Gammons and Backgammons  

Gammons and Backgammons  
Gammons and Backgammons  

At the end of the game, if the losing player has been unable to bear off even one of his chips, he or she is gammoned and loses two games (or twice the value of the doubling cube).   

Even worse, if the loser has not been able to bear off any of his chips and still has a chip left either on the bar or in the opponent’s home quadrant, he or she is backgammoned and loses three games (or thrice the value of the doubling cube).  

9. Blocks

A player may deliberately set up the block (multiple points in close proximity, with stacks of two or more chips) as a defensive tactic, impeding the progress of a certain number of his or her opponent’s chips.   

10. Hits And Re-Entries  

A player may deliberately attempt an offensive tactic by targeting a particular point on the board, occupied by a single chip – called a blot – belonging to his or her opponent. When the player lands on that point, he or she scores a hit against the opposing blot, sending it to the bar.    

The opponent must then roll the dice to bring the piece on the bar, back into play, starting from the point, farthest from its ultimate destination (home quadrant), before he or she can proceed to move any other pieces.   

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Optional Rules Of Backgammon Game?

Automatic Doubles  
Automatic Doubles  

1. Automatic Doubles

If identical numbers are rolled on the first turn the doubling cube is automatically turned to two. The victor in that game ends up registering at least two wins.  

2. Beavers 

When a player redoubles immediately after accepting a double while retaining the doubling cube. The opponent then has the option of accepting and continuing, or refusing and forfeiting, the game – as with a regular double.  

3. Backgammon Glossary/Jacoby Rule

Gammons and backgammons count as a single victory unless the doubling cube is brought into play. This encourages players to speed up a match using the doubling cube every game.  

Startergies to Win the Backgammon Game:

The player who bears all of their checkers off first wins the game. There are three types of win:

1. Single Game

If your opponent has already borne off at least one of their checkers when you bear off your last checker you win a single game. 

2. Gammon

If you bear off all of your checkers and your opponent still has all fifteen of their checkers on the board then you win a gammon and twice the stake.

3. Backgammon

If you bear off all of your checkers and your opponent still has all fifteen of their checkers on the board and they still have at least one checker either in your home board or on the bar, then you win a backgammon and triple the stake.

How to Play Tournament?

Tournament Play
Tournament Play

Backgammon tournaments are normally decided by single elimination matches. Competitors are paired off and each pair plays a series of games to decide which player will progress to the next round. 

Matches are played to a specified number of points. The first player to accumulate the required number of points wins the match. Points are awarded in the usual manner: one for a single game, two for a gammon, and three for a backgammon. The doubling cube is used, so the winner receives the value of the game multiplied by the final value of the doubling cube. Thus, if the player wins a gammon with the cube on 4, they win eight points. If the players were playing a 7-point match, the match would be over in one game.

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Conclusion

Backgammon may appear unconventional and seems complicated to beginners, but once players get used to the rules and begin to understand and deploy more advanced moves, it becomes a more and more compelling game to play. Who knows – you could be the next one to jump aboard the Backgammon Bandwagon!

About the author

Mamta Sharma

Mamta Sharma

Mamta Sharma is an influential figure in the realm of online gaming in New Zealand. With over eight years of expertise, she holds a prominent position as a content strategist at PokiesMobile NZ.

Mamta's journey, starting from the bustling streets of Mumbai to the serene landscapes of New Zealand, has given her a unique perspective on the world of online casinos.

Outside the virtual casino environment, Mamta is a also yoga practitioner and an advocate for holistic wellness.