Basic Rules of Backgammon

Now that your board is set up, you can begin play in ernest. The object of the game is to move 15 checkers around the board, getting them all to your inner board and then to "bear them off" as quickly as possible (actually move them off the board). The first one to bear off all of his or her checkers is the winner.

To begin the game, each player throws one of his two dice. The player with the highest die roll uses the two dice to make his first move. He does this by moving a checker the number of points equal to one of the dice. Then moving the same piece again, or another piece by the number of pips shown on the second die. (A tie on the first throw must be thrown again.)

Movement of each side occurs in only one direction. The flow of movement begins at the opponent's inner table, around and through the outer table, and finally to the player's own inner table as shown in our diagram. After the first throw the players alternate throwing their dice. Each moves his pieces as specified above (each die being a separate move). But there are a few caveats. First, a checker cannot be placed on a point where the opponent has 2 or more pieces. (However, a checker may move through a point having more than one opposing checker.) Second, if a player throws doubles on his dice, he gets to move twice. For example double fours would yield sixteen points of movement in batches of four.

In deciding where to move it is usually best to avoid creating a blot. A blot is a point upon which there is only one checker. If the opponent ends a movement from one or the other of his dice on a blot the blotted checker is placed on the bar. (This is called a hit.) If a player has one or more checkers on the bar, he must use his dice roll to return his checkers to play (if possible). The player places his checker on the point on his opponent's inner board that corresponds with the roll of one or the other of the dice. If all possibilities of returning a checker to play are occupied by two or more opposing checkers, then the checkers must remain on the bar and the dice roll abandoned (the rolling player then cannot move for that turn).

If a player can move, he or she must move. If only one or the other of the dice can possibly be used, then the highest of the two dice must be chosen. Once all of the checkers have entered a player's inner table, he or she can begin the process of bearing off. To do this the player removes the checkers on points corresponding to his dice roll. If a die is greater than occupied points, one of the lesser points may be borne off unless there still remain checkers on a higher numbered point. For example a player rolls a 4 and a 3. He has a checker on the 2 and 3 points as well as the 6 point. He can bear off the checker on the 3 point, but must move the checker on the 6 point rather than bear the checker off on the 2 point on the off chance he might roll a six on his next turn.

When one side or the other has borne off all of his or her checkers, the game is over and the score is tallied. The amount of the score depends directly on the action of the doubling cube...

< Backgammon Setup | Doubling and Scoring in Backgammon >

Interesting Fact:

Backgammon is one of the worlds most popular board games. It is thought to have an even balance of strategy and luck.


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