Preparing to Play Backgammon
The first thing you need to do is to understand the special backgammon board. It consists of 24 narrow triangles known as points. Usually, the triangle is coloured in alternating colours, mainly white and black. The points are grouped into 4 quadrants made up of 6 points each. Each player gets two quadrants – they are called home and outer boards accordingly. They are separated by a middle bar.
When playing a backgammon game, players sit facing each other on opposite sides. The home board for each player is on the right quadrant near the player and the outer board is on the left quadrant. As a result, the player’s home board and outer board are flipped to your opponent.
To play backgammon, you move your checkers away from your opponent’s home board following a horse-shoe direction with counterclockwise movements. Most backgammon boards number the triangles from 1 to 24. 1 is the closest point to the player and the 24th point is the furthest from the player. Since you are sitting opposite your opponent on the table, your moves will be in the opposite direction of your opponent. So, your 1st point is your opponent’s 24th point and it goes on.
Setting up the Board
Before the game starts, each player has to set up 15 checkers. The player’s checkers consist of two different colours, usually white and black or white and red. However, some versions of the game may have other colours. Here is how you need to set up your checkers to start playing:
- Place 2 checkers on the 24th point
- Place 5 checkers on the 13th point
- Place 3 checkers on the 8th point
- Place 5 checkers on the 6th point
Keep in mind that since each player has a unique numbering system, the checkers are not going to overlap.
Determine Who Starts the Game
To establish who plays first in this game, you and your opponent must roll a die. The player with the highest number will be the first to play. If you both get the same number, you will have to do the dice roll again. Note that the first number will count as the first move for the player who gets the highest number.
Rolling the Dice
To play backgammon, a player rolls two dice whenever is their turn to play. To make a legal move in backgammon, all the dice must land flat on the board. The numbers you get from the two dice rolls represent separate moves. For instance, when your rolls yield a 5 and a 3, backgammon lets you move two checkers – one 5 spaces and the other 3 spaces. Alternatively, you can move one checker 5 spaces followed by 3 more spaces.
As you roll the dice, ensure you do it on the right side of the board to let them roll and bounce a bit. In case a single die lands on a checker or leans against the board or falls outside the board then a reroll will be necessary.
Backgammon requires you to move your checkers whenever you roll dice. The game needs you to move them to an open point. Here are the main things you need to know about them.
Move Checkers to an Open Point
In backgammon, an open point refers to a point on the board without 2 or more opposing checkers on it. With backgammon, you can move your checkers to your point occupied by one or more checkers. Also, you can move checkers to a point without checkers or with just one of the opponent’s pieces. Remember that you will be moving counterclockwise away from your opponent’s home court towards your own.
You can choose your starting position, but ensure you move your checkers away from your opponent’s home board. A point occupied by 2 checkers blocks it from an opponent. However, you can keep as many checkers on a single point as you want. It is worth noting that you are free to move a single checker twice or 2 checkers once.
Capitalize on Double Rolls
If lady luck is on your side and you manage to roll doubles, you will earn yourself two more moves. Suppose your pair of dice rolls to double 4s, then you can make 4 moves of 4 points each. In this case, you have a total of 16 moves you can make around the board. So, you can use them to advance your checkers.
However, a player loses a turn if they are unable to play the number they get from a dice roll. It applies if you roll doubles on the game board.
Secure Your Checkers
To protect your checkers, avoid leaving just one of them on a point. Leaving one checker on a point makes it vulnerable to being hit when your opponent rolls. If it is hit, it goes to the bar. When hit, you will have to use your next roll to try to re-enter the board within your opponent’s home board. So, make an effort of having at least 2 checkers on a point, especially early in the game.
Dominate the Board
Prior to initiating the move to your home board, ensure you have as many points occupied by 2 to 3 checkers instead of having a few points with 5 or 6 checkers. The move will not only give you more options of moving checkers to open points, but it also makes it hard for an opposing checker to move to an open point.
Hit a Blot
In backgammon, you hit a blot when you occupy a point with just one opposing checker. This will place your opponent’s checker on the bar. Any time one or more of the opposing checkers is on the bar, your opponent will not be able to move other checkers until they get the bar checker back on the home board. Whenever possible, try to hit blots if they help you move your pieces around the board. Avoid being a victim of blot by ensuring you have at least two checkers on a point.
Moving Your Checkers from the Bar
If your opponent manages to hit a blot on one of your pieces, you must put your checker on the bar. The task you will have is to move the checker to your opponent’s home board. To accomplish this, you need to roll the dice and move the checker to an open point on the opponent’s home board. If you fail to get an open point, you will lose your turn. So, you will have to try again once it is your turn.
For instance, if you get a 2 after a roll, you can re-enter the piece on the 23rd mark on your opponent’s home board. That’s because you are moving your checker two points away from the bar. But backgammon will not let you add the sum of your rolls to select a point. Instead, if you roll a 2 and a 5, you can only move the checker onto the 5th or 2nd point to re enter.
After moving all the checkers off the bar and onto the board, you will then be able to move the other checkers. In case you have one checker on the bar, you can use the other number to move another piece around the board. In the event you have two checkers on the bar, you have to re-enter both before you can move any of your other checkers. The restriction applies to all your checkers until you move all the checkers from the bar.
Winning a game of backgammon requires a player to bear off all their checkers. In simple terms, it means moving your checkers into the tray and away from the home board. As a player, to bear all the checkers, you need to roll the two dice and use the numbers that you got to move the pieces into your tray. For this to happen, the numbers you roll must be equal or higher than the number of spaces you need to remove every piece from the board.
Suppose you roll a 2 and a 6, backgammon game rules let you bear off two pieces on these points. However, if there is no checker on the 6th point, the game lets you bear it off from the next highest point on the board like the 4th or 5th point.
To start bearing, all your checkers should be on your home board. So, ensure you place the checkers in between the 1st and 6th points. While at it, remember that your checkers are still vulnerable to an opposing checker.
You can only bear off checkers that occupy a corresponding point. For example, when a two dice throw yields a 4 and a 2, you can bear a checker in the 4th and 2nd points. In case you roll a doubling cube of sixes and you have 4 checkers on the 6th point, backgammon lets you bear all of them.
Bear Off All Your Checkers
If a player bears all 15 pieces, they win. Backgammon allows bears with a high roll to bear off a checker on a lower point. For instance, when you roll a 5 and a 4, but you only have several checkers in the 2nd and 3rd points, you can bear off two checkers. Also, sometimes you will have to move a lower die before a higher one, which may imply that you may not use the full value of a die. Suppose you have a checker in the 5th point and you manage to roll a 5 -1 then you will have to move the checker to the 4th point before you can bear it using a 5 die value.
Basically, as a player, when you bear off your 15 checkers before your opponent, then you will automatically win the backgammon game. However, there are different ways of winning the game of backgammon. These include:
- A regular loss – It happens when you are the first to bear off your checkers while at the same time the opponent is trying to bear off theirs.
- The backgammon – This type of win happens when you manage to bear all the pieces to win the game while your opponent has checkers on your home board or the bar.
- The gammon – A gammon happens when you bear all your checkers before the opponent can bear any.
Object of the Backgammon Game
The aim of backgammon is to remove all your pieces from the board to win. To accomplish this, first, you must advance each piece onto your home board. While the aim is to move your pieces from the board, it is paramount you prevent your opponent from accomplishing the same.
Although the backgammon gameplay is fairly straightforward, there are rules and regulations that govern the game. You do well to remember these important backgammon rules:
- To bear off, all your checkers must be on your home board
- You can only move checkers to a point that is not occupied by more than 2 checkers
- In case you roll doubles, you will earn four moves rather than two
- If you are unable to make a legal move with at least one dice, you forfeit the roll
- The first player to clear their fifteen checkers wins.
A lot of casual backgammon players never use the doubling cube. It requires strategy and knowledgeable players credit it for the longevity of the game. So, if you are not familiar with the doubling cube, it is high time you learn about this interesting twist to the basic backgammon game.
The doubling cube is similar to a regular die even though it is a bit larger with numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 edged on its faces. It helps track the current stake in the game.
Accepting doubling cube results in doubled stakes. The doubling cube is under the control of a player who accepts a double and is the only one who can make a double offer. Knowing when you can accept or decline a double distinguishes a skilled player.
Some players rely on automatic doubling. This happens when a player rolls identical numbers in the first throw. The doubling cube remains in the middle where no one player can control it. As a result, the normal doubling rules apply. This leaves players in backgammon to enjoy automatic doubles.
How to Win at Backgammon
To win the game of backgammon, you must bear off all your fifteen checkers before the last opposing checker leaves the board. When bearing, you can bear off one or more checkers. It all depends on the player’s roll. So, do whatever is possible within the game rules to ensure you are the first player to bear.
Play Backgammon Online For Free
Thankfully, there are many sites where you can play free backgammon online without placing real money wagers. This allows you to test your understanding of the game and skill. It is the only way you can be sure you understand the rules of the game before you start playing for real money at one of the backgammon online casinos.
The best thing is that there are several places you can play a free backgammon game. For instance, you can play it against the computer or another person online. To play a free backgammon game, try the demo version online.
Key Features and Benefits of Backgammon
Backgammon comes with some interesting features and benefits worth mentioning that set apart it from other casino games. No wonder its popularity has survived through the millennia! Let’s look at some of the reasons why online backgammon is a great game to play.
- Realistic virtual dice system that offers authentic dice roll
- Comes with different game modes
- Play anywhere on your mobile and desktop
- Easy to pick up, hard to master
- Enjoy training with real people or a computer
- Various online casino bonus offers
- Cool gifts as well as support for emoticon
Western Backgammon vs Arabic Backgammon
Just like in the western version, Arabic backgammon (often called Tawla) is a two-dice game. However, due to the relaxed nature of the game, Arabic backgammon is common in coffeehouses and cafes and it’s one of the most popular games in the region. Usually, players play the game to pass time, instead of competing for real cash prizes.
Play Backgammon Online With Real Money
Armed with this knowledge and understanding of the rules governing the game, you are ready to play backgammon for real money. Select one of the best casinos we recommend and sign up to get into the action. Deposit funds via your preferred payment method and you can start wagering real money on your backgammon games!
Names of Dice Numbers in Backgammon
Whenever a player throws two six-sided dice from the dice cup, they get numbers between 1 and 6. In backgammon, each number from 1 to 6 has a name. Here they are.
- 1 – ace
- 2 – deuce
- 3 – trey
- 4 – quarter
- 5 – cinc
- 6 – sice
What is backgammon?
Backgammon is one of the oldest board games with a history stretching approximately 5000 years. The game starts with each player having 15 checkers and the first one to move them around the board and to bear them off wins.
Can you change your move in Backgammon?
Absolutely. Backgammon lets you change your move to reconsider your position. To do this, you must return checkers to the initial location before you can move them to a new position. However, after completing your move, you will not be able to change the position of your checkers.
Is it legal to have more than five checkers on one point?
Yes. Backgammon does not have a limit to the number of checkers you can place on one point. Actually, you can place all 15 checkers on the same point.
How do you determine which player moves first?
To establish who will be the first player to move, players roll a single die and the one with the highest points gets to move first. The subsequent player rolls are done with two dice to determine their move. The player rolls are done using a dice cup.
Does backgammon software cheat?
No. Online casino developers use a random number generator to ensure all player rolls are fair and pure chance. During each roll, the random number generator draws two separate values that are completely accidental.
What is the best strategy in backgammon?
Backgammon combines skill and luck. So, there is no one best strategy to play backgammon. Rather, you just have to devise a strategy to beat your opponent. Try to avoid big stacks and strategically make use of the doubling cube.
Can I pass when it’s my turn to roll in backgammon?
Yes. Backgammon lets you forfeit your roll if you are not able to make a legitimate move.