How to play Backgammon

A backgammon set typically consists of a board with a right hand and left hand side, 15 checkers for each player, and a doubling cube.

Rules:

-The object is to bring your checkers from the bar or from your home board to your opponent’s home board.

-When one player has too few moves to be able to move out all her own pieces, the game often ends unless one of them has already brought all his own pieces into his home board or at least so many that his opponent cannot move any more off the bar.

-Before rolling the dice, each player must move their checkers from the bar to their home board.

-A roll of 2 means you can move a single checker two points forward or split your moves between one point forward and one point sideways/backward. This is known as a “hit” and a checker moved off the board is called a “blot.”

-A roll of 3 means you can move one checker three points forward or split your moves between two points forward and one point sideways/backward. This is also known as a “hit” and a checker moved off the board is still called a “blot.”

-A roll of doubles means you get to move all your checkers, one for each number on the dice. To avoid being hit by your opponent during this move you can split your moves between two points forward and two points sideways/backward.

-Pips are valued over actual numbers when determining who gets to move. For example, if a player rolls 3-3, this is known as a “prime” and the player with the highest pip total closest to seven gets to move. In this case it would be three for the first number and six for the second, totaling nine which is higher than seven. If both players have a prime that is equally close to seven, the player whose turn it is gets to break the tie.

-Only legal moves can be made and you must move a checker if possible. If your first roll doesn’t allow a legal move, you lose your turn and have to pass until you roll a number that does allow for a legal move.  

-The doubling cube is used when there’s a disagreement over who should win the game and it works like this:

1. The players agree to use the doubling cube and must agree on which stakes to play for. One player will be the “setter,” with the other being the “declarer.”

2. The setter rolls the doubling cube and either accepts or declines each value. If the value is accepted, it’s placed on that number of points.

3. If there’s a disagreement over who wins, the declarer can offer “redouble,” meaning they would like to re-roll the cube and begin another series of stakes.

4. If the setter declines a redouble, then they lose that series of stakes and must pay what is owed to the declarer.

5. If the setter accepts a redouble, then they have two options: They can accept another round of stakes or decline again if they don’t think it’s necessary. If the setter declines another redouble, they lose and must pay what is owed to the declarer.

6. If they accept a final round of stakes, they can their opponent’s cube once or twice and then forfeit if it hasn’t been changed yet and the game ends in a draw.

-If you are required to move a checker but cannot, this is known as having a “blot” on the bar. If you have blots on the bar your opponent may hit them until they are removed from the board or all of your own checkers are in your home board.

Your turn is automatically forfeited if you have blots on the bar and you haven’t been able to move.

-This rule applies even if a blot is hit multiple times in a row or “cascades.” Keep in mind that your opponent must be able to move a checker off the bar after hitting the blot just once. If they could have legally moved one of their own checkers instead, the hit is void.

-Before rolling the dice, each player must move their checkers from the bar to their home board. If you have blots on your bar it’s legal for your opponent to continue hitting them until they are removed or all of your own checkers are in your home board.  

General Tips:

-The player who goes first is determined by rolling a die. The highest number gets to go first.

-At the start of the game, four checkers are placed on each corner spot and three on each side spot (5 points, 4 points, 3 points).

-A checker can only move forward and crowding is not allowed. If the path to a point is blocked by two or more checkers, you can’t move there until one of those checkers gets moved or knocked off (hit).

-If your opponent has only one open point on their side of the board, it’s acceptable to leave them with no options and they cannot hit you.

-If you have a prime number, your opponent must hit one of your checkers if they can which could result in your prime being broken and allowing for them to move forward.

-If there are no points available to move the checker you want to, you can “blot” it by moving it onto the bar.

-It’s legal to jump over your own checkers with the goal of blocking your opponent from getting any further ahead.

-The doubling cube is used when you and your opponent can’t agree on who should win, but it must be agreed upon before starting the game or else there will not be one in play. It works like this: the setter rolls the cube and either accepts or declines each value, placing it on that number of points. If there’s a disagreement over who wins, the declarer can offer “redouble,” meaning they would like to re-roll the cube and begin another series of stakes.

-The redouble is then accepted or declined, and if declined there is a loss of stakes for the declarer. If accepted, another round of stakes begins and they get an extra turn if it’s still their go.

-If your opponent hits one of your blots before you move all of them into your home board, then that hit won’t be considered “cascading” because you had blots on your bar.

-If there are no points available to move the checker you want to, you can “block” it by moving another checker onto it or in front of it.

So this is how you can play Backgammon game.


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