Backgammon is a game for two
players, played on a board consisting of twenty-four narrow
The triangles alternate in color and are grouped into four
quadrants of six triangles each. The quadrants are referred to
as a player's
board and outer board, and the opponent's home board and
outer board. The home and outer boards are separated from each
other by a ridge down the center of the board called the
Figure 1. A board with the checkers in their
An alternate arrangement is the reverse of the one
shown here, with the home board on the left and the
outer board on the right.
The points are numbered for
either player starting in that player's home board. The
outermost point is the twenty-four point, which is also the
opponent's one point. Each player has fifteen checkers of his
own color. The initial arrangement of checkers is: two on each
player's twenty-four point, five on each player's thirteen
point, three on each player's eight point, and five on each
player's six point.
players have their own pair of dice and a dice cup used for
doubling cube, with the numerals 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 on
its faces, is used to keep track of the current stake of the
Object of the
|The object of the game is move
all your checkers into your own home board and then bear them
off. The first player to bear off all of their checkers wins the
2. Direction of movement of White's checkers. Red's
checkers move in the opposite direction.
Movement of the
To start the game, each player
throws a single die. This determines both the player to go first
and the numbers to be played. If equal numbers come up, then
both players roll again until they roll different numbers. The
player throwing the higher number now moves his checkers
according to the numbers showing on both dice. After the first
roll, the players throw two dice and alternate turns.
The roll of the dice indicates
how many points, or
player is to move his checkers. The checkers are always moved
forward, to a lower-numbered point. The following rules apply:
- A checker may be moved
only to an
open point, one that is not occupied by two or more
- The numbers on the two
dice constitute separate moves. For example, if a player
rolls 5 and 3, he may move one checker five spaces to an
open point and another checker three spaces to an open
point, or he may move the one checker a total of eight
spaces to an open point, but only if the intermediate point
(either three or five spaces from the starting point) is
Figure 3. Two ways that White can play a roll
- A player who rolls doubles
plays the numbers shown on the dice twice. A roll of 6 and 6
means that the player has four sixes to use, and he may move
any combination of checkers he feels appropriate to complete
- A player must use both
numbers of a roll if this is legally possible (or all four
numbers of a double). When only one number can be played,
the player must play that number. Or if either number can be
played but not both, the player must play the larger one.
When neither number can be used, the player loses his turn.
In the case of doubles, when all four numbers cannot be
played, the player must play as many numbers as he can.
|A point occupied by a single
checker of either color is called a
an opposing checker lands on a blot, the blot is
placed on the
Any time a player has one or
more checkers on the bar, his first obligation is to
those checker(s) into the opposing home board. A checker is
entered by moving it to an open point corresponding to one of
the numbers on the rolled dice.
For example, if a player rolls
4 and 6, he may enter a checker onto either the opponent's four
point or six point, so long as the prospective point is not
occupied by two or more of the opponent's checkers.
If neither of the points is open,
the player loses his turn. If a player is able to enter some but
not all of his checkers, he must enter as many as he can and
then forfeit the remainder of his turn.
4. If White rolls
with a checker on the bar, he must enter the checker
onto Red's four point since Red's six point is not open.
After the last of a player's
checkers has been entered, any unused numbers on the dice must
be played, by moving either the checker that was entered or a
|Backgammon is played for an
agreed stake per point. Each game starts at one point. During
the course of the game, a player who feels he has a sufficient
advantage may propose doubling the stakes. He may do this only
at the start of his own turn and before he has rolled the dice.
A player who is offered a
refuse, in which case he concedes the game and pays one
point. Otherwise, he must
accept the double and play on for the new higher stakes. A
player who accepts a double becomes the
owner of the cube and only he may make the next double.
Subsequent doubles in the same
game are called
redoubles. If a player refuses a redouble, he must pay the
number of points that were at stake prior to the redouble.
Otherwise, he becomes the new owner of the cube and the game
continues at twice the previous stakes. There is no limit to the
number of redoubles in a game.
|At the end of the game, if the
losing player has borne off at least one checker, he loses only
the value showing on the doubling cube (one point, if there have
been no doubles). However, if the loser has not borne off
any of his checkers, he is
and loses twice the value of the doubling cube. Or,
worse, if the loser has not borne off any of his checkers and
still has a checker on the bar or in the winner's home board, he
backgammoned and loses three times the value of the
|The following optional rules
are in widespread use.
doubles. If identical numbers are
thrown on the first roll, the stakes are doubled. The
doubling cube is turned to 2 and remains in the middle.
Players usually agree to limit the number of automatic
doubles to one per game.
When a player is doubled, he may immediately redouble
(beaver) while retaining possession of the cube. The
original doubler has the option of accepting or refusing as
with a normal double.
- The Jacoby Rule.
Gammons and backgammons count only as a single game if
neither player has offered a double during the course of the
game. This rule speeds up play by eliminating situations
where a player avoids doubling so he can play on for a
- The dice must be rolled
together and land flat on the surface of the right-hand
section of the board. The player must reroll both dice if a
die lands outside the right-hand board, or lands on a
checker, or does not land flat.
- A turn is completed when
the player picks up his dice. If the play is incomplete or
otherwise illegal, the opponent has the option of accepting
the play as made or of requiring the player to make a legal
play. A play is deemed to have been accepted as made when
the opponent rolls his dice or offers a double to start his
- If a player rolls before
his opponent has completed his turn by picking up the dice,
the player's roll is voided. This rule is generally waived
any time a play is forced or when there is no further
contact between the opposing forces.