How to play Backgammon

How to play Backgammon

Backgammon is a relatively easy game to learn with uncomplicated rules once you start to understand its concept. After this the game can get extremely competitive with strategic moves being thought out 2 or 3 places ahead of the next play. Even so, the game has an element of luck involved too as players use 2 dice to dictate the number of moves allowed for each turn. The game itself is usually fairly quick and match winners are usually decided after a player wins 5 games.

The basic concept of Black Gammon

The idea of the game is to get all 10 checkers from one side of the Backgammon board to the opposite side by going around either clockwise or anti clockwise depending on where your checkers start. On the way players have to avoid his/her opponent’s checkers. Opponents try to capture your checkers and send them back to where they started while you try to return the favour by capturing and sending back your opponents.

The Backgammon Board

The board is effectively set into 4 play areas each with 6 triangles, which are called points usually represented by alternating colours. There are two sides to the board each side housing 2 of the 4 play areas. Firstly, the outer board is where players venture their pieces out into open play and secondly, the other side of the board is where the players’ checkers start, known as the opponents home or base. Each home is across from the other and the game is won when one of the players lands all their checkers into their home area.

How to play Backgammon

In order to learn Backgammon players should understand that there are two sets of checkers commonly red and the other set black. Players roll the dice to see how many moves they can make. Each dice represents one checker that can be moved. An example of this is if the dice show 3 and 5 then players must choose one checker to move forwards 3 places and choose another checker to move 5 places. Players can also combine the total dice roll and use that for a single checker and this actually termed as moving the same checker twice.

When players move their checkers around they use the points on the board. The points are numbered 1-24 from the right going clockwise for one opponent and 1-24 going left anticlockwise for the other opponent. Each point a checker is moved through counts as one move from the dice count.

Players move starting from number 24 and eventually landing their checkers safe on point number 1 or 2. Any checker can be moved any number of times obviously as long as the move is within the rules of the game and according to the number of moves allowed as per the dice role.

Backgammon Rules

Players can move their checkers onto any unoccupied point, or a point that already has one of their own checkers and players can stack these up to a maximum of 5. If a point has just one of the opponent’s checkers on it this is a “blot” and results in your opponent’s checker being sent to the middle part of the board known as the bar.

Players can only get their checker off the bar by rolling 1-6 on the dice, so 1 would mean position 24 and 2 for position 23 and so on. This means the checker starts from the opponent’s home and must go around the board again. Checkers stacked on a point 2 or more times are unaffected by blots, so they are protected by one another.

A popular Backgammon Strategy is to build up two or more checkers along all 6 points in their home area to slow their opponent down by making it impossible for the opponent to roll their checker off the bar. Eventually the trapping player will need to move all their checkers to points 1 and 2 in order to win the game, so this allows the opponent to release his/her checker from the bar position. During this time the trapping player now needs to roll the correct dice number to stack their checkers on lines 1 and 2 in their home area while any opponent’s checkers that were trapped on the bar can now attempt to race home.

 Betting in Backgammon

When you play Backgammon for cash, the game gets serious. You really need to know how the points system works to begin to pick up some decent cash from the game.

The simple betting system is two players bet at the beginning of the game and the winner takes all. However, there are other ways to get your money in.

Winning Money per Point

This is why you need to know how the betting and points system works. 1 point can be worth $1 or players may set each point at $25 or even $100 depending on which kind of stakes you are happy playing with.

A point can be earned by winning the game in situation where you opponent has some of his/her 15 counters home. You can get 2 points if you manage to beat your opponent with all 15 of his/her pieces still not home. This situation is know as ‘Gammon’

You can get 3 points with a ‘Backgammon; if you complete number the perquisites mentioned to earn 2 points and you have some or just one of your opponent’s counters in the middle zone out of the action. Counters are in the middle (the bar) because as previously mentioned, when you land on a point where you opponent’s piece is alone – so the opponent’s piece is unprotected.

Doubling Cube

One of the biggest changes in history to the betting side of Backgammon is the doubling cube, which sometimes people don’t use the cube and just understand the rules of doubling – but the doubling cube is still useful for those want to keep track.

The cube is the same a s dice, but it has the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64 on it. These numbers represent the stakes the game is being played at. At the beginning of the game no one owns the cube and it stays on the bar.

As soon as someone picks up the cube and offers it to the other player, it means the persons offering the cube wants to double the stakes. Remember the stakes are always for point as standard. Therefore, if the player being offered the cube accepts, the game will be worth 2 points. However, should the person reject the cube, it means the game must end and 1 point is conceded for not accepting the double.

Should the cube be accepted, it is now in the possession of the person that accepted the cube. He/she at any time in the game can offer this back to his/her opponent. This now means the games doubles again from 2 points to 4 points. This can occur between the 2 players an unlimited number of times.

What Happens with Gammons and Back Gammons when the Cube Comes Out?

Normally someone that can see they are losing miserably is not going to accept the cube, but in some cases people love the thrill. That means if they accept the cube and lose without getting ant of their counter home, then the opponent wins 2 points because it is a Gammon, then this is doubled to 4 because the game was doubled.

The same applies to ‘Backgammon’ – whatever the number on the cube, the Back Gammon is multiplied. For example if the game has now been doubled twice, the cube will say 4. That is 4 multiplied by 2, so the player wins 8 points.