Backgammon Chips

How To Play Backgammon

Read the rules of Backgammon

Backgammon is a two player game. The board consists of twenty four long and narrow triangles. These triangles are called points that alternate in colors and are arranged in four groups of six each. Two are side by side and face the other two on the far side of the board. The right most group is called the ‘home board’ and the other ‘outer board.’ The home boards share one side and the same with the outer boards. There is a thick line down the center called the ‘bar’ that separates the home and outer boards. Each point is numbered starting with the innermost of the home board and moving out to the innermost of the opponent’s home board. So one player’s one point is the other’s twenty four point.

Each player has fifteen markers of his color. These markers start in the following arrangement: two on the twenty four point, five on the thirteen point, three on the eight point, and five on the six point. Each player has two dice, a dice cup. Also included is a single doubling cube with the numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 32, and 64 on it. The doubling cube is to keep track of the stake of the game. The point of the game is to get all your markers onto you home board and them move them off. The first player to do so wins.

Backgammon Starting Positions

To start the game each player rolls one dice to see who goes first. If the same number is rolled, they roll again until one player has a higher number. The player with the higher number moves his markers based on both dice. From here out, each player rolls two dice and moves accordingly in alternating turns. The number on the dice tells the player how many points or ‘pips’ he can move his marker. He can only move markers to lower number points bringing them closer to his home board.

When moving, a marker can only land on an open point or one that does not have two or more opposing markers already on it. Each dice roll can be a separate move but the same marker can be moved twice. So a six and a two means that one marker can move six and another two or he could move one six then two or two then six. If doubles are rolled, the numbers can be used twice. These can be used in any combination from moving one marker four times to moving four markers once. If possible, he must use all the available numbers. If one or both are illegal moves, then he cannot play those numbers.

Backgammon Movement
A point with a single marker from either team is called a ‘blot.’ If a marker lands on the blot, it is considered ‘hit’ and the opposing marker must move into the bar. If a player has one or more markers on the bar, he first must move them off into the opposing player’s home board before making any other moves. To enter a marker, he takes one of his rolls and places the marker on the corresponding point. This move must be a legal move, if the point has two or more markers on it, then that point cannot be moved onto. If neither of the points on the dice are open, then that player must lose a turn. If he has more than one marker on the bar, he must move as many as he can onto the board and then give up the rest of his turn. If the last marker is entered and a dice roll remains unused, it can be played as normal.

To get a marker off the board, the player must have all fifteen markers in his home board. After his roll he can remove a marker from the corresponding point number. If both rolls correspond he can remove two. If there is no marker on the point indicated by the roll, he must make a legal move with a marker on a higher number point. If there are no markers on higher points, then he must remove a marker from the highest point he has a marker on. If a player can make a legal move then he does not have to ‘bear off’ any of his makers. If a marker leaves the home board because of a hit, then he must get that marker back to his home board before he can bear of any more markers. First person to get all markers off wins.

Backgammon is a game of stakes. Each game is played for an agreed upon stake per point, with each game starting at one point. A player may choose to double the stakes during the game if he feels he is winning by enough. He must do so before he has rolled the dice on a given turn. If the double is refused by the other player, the game is conceded and the loser pays a single point. If the player accepts the double, he takes the cube and can then make the next double. If the new player doubles again it is called a ‘redouble.’ If the other player refused the redouble, then he must pay the stake before the redouble would have taken effect. If it is accepted then the game moves on and the cube changes hands again.

Backgammon Doubling Cube

By the end of the game if the losing player has taken off at least one marker, he must give up the value on the doubling cube, either one point, or however many times it has been doubled during the game. If he has not taken any of his markers off, he has been gammoned and must give up twice what the cube shows. If he loses and still has a marker on the bar or in the opponent’s home board, he must give up three times what the cube shows. If this happens he has been backgammoned.

After you have learned the rules of Backgammon there are a few points of Backgammon etiquette you should also learn before you play. View the Backgammon Etiquette page to read through them.