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Maverick Parker
Maverick Parker

Learn and Master Backgammon Game with Expert Tips and Tricks

How to Play Backgammon: A Beginner's Guide

Backgammon is one of the oldest and most popular board games in the world. It is a game of skill, strategy, and luck that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you want to play casually with your friends, competitively in tournaments, or online against players from around the globe, backgammon is a game that will challenge your mind and entertain you for hours.

backgammon game

But how do you play backgammon? What are the rules and the strategies? How do you set up the board and move your pieces? How do you score points and win the game? If you are new to backgammon or want to refresh your knowledge, this article is for you. In this beginner's guide, we will explain everything you need to know to start playing backgammon today.


What is backgammon and why should you play it?

Backgammon is a two-player board game that involves moving a set of 15 pieces (also called checkers, stones, or men) around 24 triangular spaces (also called points) on a board divided into four quadrants. The players take turns rolling two dice and moving their pieces according to the numbers shown on the dice. The goal of the game is to move all your pieces into your home board (the quadrant opposite to your starting one) and then bear them off (remove them from the board) before your opponent does.

Backgammon is a game that combines luck and skill in a fascinating way. On one hand, the outcome of each roll of the dice introduces an element of chance that can affect your moves and strategies. On the other hand, the way you use your dice rolls, position your pieces, and anticipate your opponent's moves requires careful planning, calculation, and decision-making. Backgammon is a game that rewards both tactical and strategic thinking, as well as adaptability and risk-taking.

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Backgammon is also a game that has a rich history and culture. It is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) over 5,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest games in existence. It has been played by kings and commoners, nobles and peasants, scholars and warriors, across different civilizations and continents. It has inspired countless variations, adaptations, and innovations over the centuries. It has also been a source of entertainment, education, socialization, and even gambling for millions of people.

What do you need to play backgammon?

To play backgammon, you need a backgammon board, 15 pieces of one color for each player (usually black and white), two pairs of dice (one for each player), and a doubling cube (a six-sided die with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 on its faces). You can buy a backgammon set from a toy store or an online retailer, or you can make your own with some cardboard, paper, markers, coins, and regular dice. You can also play backgammon online using a computer or a mobile device.

The Basics of Backgammon

The board and the pieces

A backgammon board consists of 24 triangular spaces called points, arranged in four groups of six points each. These groups are called quadrants or boards. The quadrants are labeled as follows:

  • The home board or inner board: This is where you need to bring all your pieces before bearing them off. It is the quadrant on your right side.

  • The outer board: This is where you start the game with five of your pieces. It is the quadrant on your left side.

  • The opponent's home board or inner board: This is where your opponent needs to bring all their pieces before bearing them off. It is the quadrant on your left side, opposite to your home board.

  • The opponent's outer board: This is where your opponent starts the game with five of their pieces. It is the quadrant on your right side, opposite to your outer board.

The points are numbered from 1 to 24, starting from the point closest to you on your right and going counterclockwise around the board. The point on your far right is point 1, the point next to it is point 2, and so on, until you reach point 24 on your far left. Your opponent's points are numbered in the opposite direction, so their point 1 is your point 24, their point 2 is your point 23, and so on.

Each player has 15 pieces of one color (black or white). At the beginning of the game, the pieces are arranged as follows:

  • Two pieces on point 24 (opponent's point 1)

  • Five pieces on point 13 (opponent's point 12)

  • Three pieces on point 8 (opponent's point 17)

  • Five pieces on point 6 (opponent's point 19)

The arrangement of the pieces is symmetrical, so your opponent has the same setup as you, but with the opposite color and direction.

The dice and the doubling cube

Each player has a pair of dice that they use to determine how many points they can move their pieces on each turn. The dice are rolled on a flat surface next to the board, or in a cup or a shaker that is then turned over. The player who rolls the higher number on one die goes first. If both players roll the same number, they roll again until there is a difference. The numbers on the two dice are not added together, but are used separately to move one or two pieces. For example, if you roll a 3 and a 5, you can move one piece 3 points and another piece 5 points, or you can move one piece 8 points (if possible).

The doubling cube is a special die that is used to increase the stakes of the game. It has the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 on its faces, representing the multiplier of the final score. The doubling cube starts in the middle of the board, with the number 64 facing up. This means that the game is worth one point at the beginning. At any point during the game, before rolling their dice, a player can propose to double the value of the game by turning the cube to the next higher number and offering it to their opponent. The opponent can either accept or decline the offer. If they accept, they take the cube and place it on their side of the board, indicating that they have control of the cube and can propose to double again later. If they decline, they forfeit the game and lose one point. The cube can be turned and offered as many times as the players want, but only by the player who has control of it.

The objective and the direction of play

The objective of backgammon is to move all your pieces into your home board and then bear them off before your opponent does. To do this, you need to move your pieces in a counterclockwise direction around the board, from your outer board to your home board. Your opponent moves their pieces in a clockwise direction, from their outer board to their home board.

You can only move your pieces to open points, meaning points that are not occupied by two or more of your opponent's pieces. You can move your pieces to points that are empty, occupied by one or more of your own pieces, or occupied by only one of your opponent's pieces (in which case you hit that piece and send it to the bar).

You can bear off your pieces once you have moved all of them into your home board. To bear off a piece, you need to roll a number that corresponds to the point where that piece is located. For example, if you have a piece on point 4, you need to roll a 4 to bear it off. You can also use a higher number than the point where your piece is located, as long as there are no other pieces on higher points. For example, if you have a piece on point 3 and you roll a 6, you can bear off that piece, as long as you have no other pieces on points 4, 5, or 6. If you have pieces on the bar, you cannot bear off any pieces until you re-enter them into your opponent's home board.

You win the game when you bear off all your pieces before your opponent does. You score one point for a normal win, two points for a gammon (if your opponent has not borne off any piece), or three points for a backgammon (if your opponent has not borne off any piece and still has one or more pieces on the bar or in your hom


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