How To Play Backgammon

Backgammon is a board game between two players who each have 15 checkers, or men. The object of the game is to move all of your checkers around your inner board, then bear them off the board. The first player to move all of his checkers off wins the game. A game can have a value of two or more points due to doubling, a gammon or a backgammon. Those will be explained later.

What You Need to Play Backgammon

  • A board with 24 spiked playing segments known as points, divided into an inner board and outer board and a bar in the middle
  • Two pairs of dice (some sets come with just two dice)
  • 30 checkers, or men, in contrasting colors (usually 15 white, 15 black, a set for each player)
  • Two dice cups
  • A doubling cube.

A match consists of one or more sets. In a three-set match, the first player to win two sets wins; in a five-set match, the first to win three sets is the winner. By having more short sets in a match than one long set, you reduce the element of luck and minimize the impact of a bad game. In a recommended set size, the first player to get seven or more points wins.

Backgammon Scoring

The first player to remove all of his checkers is the winner. If the loser has removed at least one checker, the winner gets 1 point. If the loser has not removed any checkers, a gammon is scored (worth 2 points). If the loser still has a checker in the winner's home board or on the bar and has not removed any checkers, then a backgammon is scored (3 points). Remember: there are some versions of backgammon where the starting positions, rules and scoring are different.

Players keep track of the score with a pencil and paper, using chips to indicate the number of points and sets each player has won.

Backgammon Moves

To begin, each player rolls a die and the higher number makes the opening move, using the numbers showing on both dice (if the same number is rolled both dice must be rolled again). Remaining plays are made using both dice.

Each player's turns includes the rolling of his dice and moving one to four of his checkers. The number on each die is played separately. For example, if you roll a 5-3, you have the following options:

  • Move one checker 5 spots, then another 3 spots.
  • Move one checker 3 spots, then another 5 spots.
  • Move one checker 5 spots, pause then move it 3 more spots.
  • Move one checker 3 spots, pause, and move it another 5 spots.

If you roll doubles, that number can be played four times instead of two. A 3-3 roll is played by moving one two four checkers in any combination for a total of four moves of 3 spots each. A player may not move to or touch down onto a spot owned, or occupied, by two or more of his opponent's checkers.

Players can have an unlimited number of checkers of the same color on a point. You can pass over points owned by the opponent and have those counted in the move. If a player has only one checker on a point, the checker is called a blot and can be hit. A blot hit by an opponent must be placed on the bar.

A player must play all of his roll if possible, or play the higher number die if not. Points have alternating colors to help you quickly count points for your moves. Each board has six points so a roll of 6 will move a checker from a point on one board to the same point on the next board.

Entering From the Bar

When a checker is hit, it is placed on the bar. A player who has one or more checkers on the bar must move all of them before making any other move. Checkers are moved from the bar onto a point in the opponent's inner board based on the number rolled on the die. A 3-2 roll can enter a black checker onto a white's 3-point or 2-point.

Bearing Off in Backgammon

As soon as a player has moved all of his checkers into his inner board, he can start "bearing off" or removing checkers from the board. If a player's checker is hit while he is bearing off, he can't continue until the checker placed on the bar is returned to his inner board.

Gammon and Backgammon

A gammon (double game) is won if the opponent hasn't borne off a single checker when the winner bears his last checker off. A backgammon (triple game) is won if an opponent hasn't borne off a single checker and has one or more checkers in the winner's inner board or on the bar. This triples the game in value.

Play Online Backgammon at the Following Recommended Rooms