Backgammon is an ancient game that has become very popular due to online casinos and the possibility to play online against other players around the world. Backgammon is relatively difficult to learn and master, but once you have learned the basics, it is a very fun and exciting game. Backgammon is two-player game, played on a board with 24 narrow triangles, called points. The objective of backgammon is to move all your checkers into your own home board and then bear them off. The first player to bear off all his checkers wins.
No one really knows where the name Backgammon comes from. The word backgammon was first written in 1645 – but most likely it originates from the Middle English word beac = back and gamen = game. The game is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia, present-day Iran, Iraq and Syria, and it’s one of the oldest games known to man. It can be traced all the way back to a few thousand years before Christ, and it was played by Egyptians, Sumerians, Romans and Persians. Originally they played on boards of wood, and they used stones as chess pieces. Of course it is still possible to play backgammon as a board game, but online backgammon has become more and more popular nowadays.
Basic Rules of Backgammon
Backgammon is a two-player game, played on a board with 24 narrow triangles, called points. The triangles alternate in color and are grouped into four quadrants of six triangles each. Two quadrants serve as the home board for each player, the two remaining quadrants are called the outer board. The line dividing the game board in half is called the Bar. The game boxes are numbered for both players, starting in each player’s home board. The outermost point has the number 24 for one player, while has the number one for the other player. Both players have 15 pieces in their own color. When the game starts the pieces are arranged as follows: 2 on each player’s number 24, 5 on each player’s number 13, 3 on each player’s number 8, and 5 on each player’s number 6. Backgammon is played with two dice and a doubling cube with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, which is used to keep track of the stake level in the game.
Moving of game pieces
To start the game both players throw the dice. This will determine both who gets to move first, and what numbers he / she may play. If both dice show the same number, one throws them again until different numbers come up. When this occurs, the player who has thrown the higher number will move their game pieces according to the numbers showing on the dice. After this the players take turns to throw the dice and move their pieces.
The numbers on the dice indicate how many points the player is allowed to move his piece. The pieces are always moved forward, to a lower numbered point.
The following rules apply:
- A piece may only be moved to an open point, one that is not occupied by two or more of the opponent’s pieces.
- The numbers on the two dice constitute separate moves. For example, if a player rolls 5 and 3, then he / she can move one piece five spaces to an open point and another piece three spaces to an point. The player in question may, however, in this case also move a åpiece eight spaces to an open point, provided the point in the middle (either three or five spaces from the starting point) is also open.
- A player who rolls doubles plays the numbers 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 this requirement. Otherwise the same rules apply as in paragraph 2.
- A player must use both numbers (or all four if there is a double) he / she rolls, if possible. If 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. If none of the numbers can be played, the player loses his turn. In the case of doubles, when all four numbers cannot be played, players must play as many numbers as possible.
A point occupied by a single piece of either color is called a blot. If an opposing piece lands on a blot, the blot is hit and placed on the bar. When a player has one or more pieces on the bar, this or these must be moved back into the game again (in the opponent’s home board) before he / she can move any other pieces. The player rolls the dice as usual, but to move a piece into a point he must land on an open one. For example, if a player rolls 4 and 6, he may place a piece on either the opponent’s four point or six point, as long as the prospective point is not occupied by two or more of the opponent’s pieces. If none of the game boxes are open, the player loses his turn.
If a player is able move some but not all of his pieces, he must move as many as possible and then forfeit the remainder of his turn. After the last of a player’s pieces has been entered into the game, any unused numbers on the dice must be played, by moving either the piece that was moved or a different piece.
When a player has moved all the pieces on his home board, he may begin bearing off. A player can bear off a checker when he / she rolls a number that corresponds to the point on which the piece is placed. For example, if you roll a 6, you win a game piece from the game box number 6. Bear off a piece by simply removing it from the board.
If there is no piece on the point indicated by the dice, you have to move a game piece from a game box with a higher number. If there are no pieces on game boxes with higher numbers, the player is permitted and required to remove a piece from the highest point on which one of his pieces is placed. A player is under no obligation to bear off if he can make an otherwise legal move. A player must have all of his active pieces on his home board in order to bear off. If a piece is hit during the bear-off process, the player must bring that piece back to his home board before continuing bearing off. The first player to bear off all his 15 pieces wins the game.
Backgammon is played with an agreed upon stake per point. Each game starts at one point. During the game, however, a player who claims to have the upper hand, may propose doubling the stakes. He may only do this at the start of his own turn or before he has rolled the dice. A player who is offered a double may refuse, in which case he concedes the game and pays one point. A player who accepts a double becomes the owner of the cube and only he can make the next double.
Further doubles are called redoubles. If a player refuses a redouble, he must pay the number of points obtained prior to the redouble. Otherwise, he becomes the new owner of the cube and the game continues at twice the previous stake. There is no limit to the number of redoubles in a game.
Gammon and Backgammon
If the losing player managed to bear off at least one of the pieces, he only loses his / her value shown on the doubling cube. But if the player has not beared off any of his pieces, he / she is gammoned and loses twice the value of the doubling cube. If the player failed to bear off any of his pieces and still has a piece on the bar or is on the winner’s home board, he is backgammoned and loses three times the value of the doubling cube.
In order to try to play backgammon online, we strongly recommend the casinos that we have listed. They offer backgammon games and also backgammon tournaments if you want to play against other players online.