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Backgammon Rules

The Backgammon Rules - Learn how to play Backgammon

Backgammon Board Setup

Backgammon is a race game for 2 players. The game takes place on a board consisting of 24 slim triangles referred to as "points". The board is divided in the middle by a bar.

The points interchange in color and are grouped into four quadrants of 6 points each. The two right quadrants of the board are called the "home board". The lower quadrant (respectively to the player's position) is the player's home board while his opponent's home board is the upper-quadrant. The two quadrants left are considered as "outer boards" following the above rules.

The points are numbered from 1 to 24. The first point is the extreme point in the player's home board; the next points are numbered from 2 to 6, when the 6th point is near the bar.

The numbering continues in a clockwise order up to 24. The 24th point is in the opponent's home board, opposite to the 1st point.

The Arrangement of Checkers

The initial display of the checkers on the board are according to the following backgammon rules:

  • Players place 2 checkers on their 24th points.
  • Players place 5 checkers on their 13th points.
  • Players place 3 checkers on their 8th points.
  • Players place 5 checkers on their 6th points.

Object of the Game - Bearing off

The object of the backgammon game is to remove all of a player's checkers before his opponent manages to do so, in order to do so a player must move all his checkers to his home board. This is called "bearing off" and it is the final and most important stage of the game.

Movement Rules of the Backgammon Checkers

The movement of the checkers upon the backgammon board can be made in only one direction following the strict backgammon rules: From one point to a lower-numbered point. This means that a checker present at the 13th point may only move to the 12th-1st point. The movement is in a clockwise order from the 24th point to the 1st point.

  • The numbers rolled by the two dice represent separate moves that a player may take. For instance, if a player rolls 4-1 he can choose to move his checker 5 spaces ahead or he can move one checker 4 spaces ahead and another checker one step ahead which means that he's splitting his move.
  • A checker may only move to an open point or one that has checkers of its own color, less there is only one opponent's checkers there (this is called "hitting").
  • A player may roll a "double", meaning the numbers on the dice are equal. When this happens a players may double his move. For instance: if a player rolls 2-2 he may move his checkers four times by 2 spaces.
  • Sometimes players cannot move according to the roll of the dice. Them they must either forfeit their turn. They can also use the highest-number on one of the two dice. For example, if a player cannot use a 5-3 move with one checker or two checkers with two moves he must move one of his checkers by 5 spaces or to forfeit his turn.
  • If a player has doubled and cannot use all of his moves then according to the backgammon rules he must at least use them to the maximum

Backgammon Hitting and Entering - How to

As mentioned before a player may move his checker to a point where there's only one checker present, this is called "hitting" and the opponent's checker which is in a position to be hit is called "blot".

When a player is being hit he must place his checker on the bar. He may enter the checker back into the game only by following these backgammon rules:

  1. A player may enter his checker back into the backgammon only to his opponent's home board.
  2. Entering a checker back into the board is only possible to a point where there isn't any opponent checkers..
  3. A player must roll the number of the free point in order to move his checkers there.
  4. If there's no open point or if the rolled number on the dice isn't the right one then the player forfeit his turn.
  5. A player must enter all of his checkers before he can resume his game on the board itself, meaning to continue to move his checkers in the direction of his home board.

The Final Stage – Bearing Off

In order to bear off and to win a backgammon game a player must first bring all of his 15 checkers into his home board, in no other circumstances do the backgammon rules allow you to bear off.

Them he may begin to bear them off the board. If at any point one of his checkers is hit he must stop and enter that checker back into the board before starting the process over again.

A player may bear off a checker by rolling a number that matches to the point on which the checker is located, and then bearing that checker off the backgammon board. Therefore, rolling a 6 allows the player to take away a checker from the 6th point.

If no checker match the number rolled by the dice then the player have to make a legal move with a checker on a higher-numbered point, or he may bear off one checker from other high-numbered point. For example, by rolling a 5-1 a player may bear off checkers from the 1st and 4th/3rd/2nd points if there's no checkers on the 5th and 6th point.

If you think that you know enough you may be interested in other material about online casinos or more related material such as the history of backgammon.

Josh Wilson, Editorial Staff 14/2/06

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