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Rules of Backgammon

How to play Backgammon

Backgammon is a game with simple rules, but with profound strategic elements. The duration of each game is usually short.

The objective of the game is to free your counters before your opponent, avoiding leaving defenceless counters. To free your counters from the board, for the black pieces, you must advance the pieces towards the lower right quadrant (the pieces move to the left in the upper part of the board and from left to right on the lower part). The inner quadrants are situated on the right; the pieces become freed once all counters are in the lower right quadrant.

Each side of the board has twelve adjacent squares/points, formed by elongated triangles. The points are connected by imagination forming a chain of twenty-four elongated triangles (6x4). The triangles alternate in colour and are grouped in four squares of six triangles. The quadrants are known as each player’s “home board” (inner) and “outer board” (outer). The home boards and outer boards are separated by a bar.

A game of backgammon has two phases: the contact phase, when the player’s counters farthest behind can still be captured, and the career phase, in which the player’s tiles can no longer be captured and the power to withdraw the counters only depends on the value of the dice.

The points are numbered from one to twenty-four, and the counters always move from the points with the highest numbers to the lowest. The two players move their checkers in opposite directions, so point 1 for one player is point 24 for the other.

Each player starts with two counters at point 24, three counters at point 8, five counters at point 6 and another five counters at point 13. The players’ counters have different colours.

Each player has their own pair of dice and a shared dice. This dice is used for doubling, with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64, and saves the final value of the game.

The game starts by throwing the dice to decide who will start the game: the person who gets the highest number. Subsequently, the player whose turn it is then rolls the dice and moves the counter according to the following rules:

  • If the score of the dice is “A” and “B”, the player moves one piece “A” positions, and the other piece -which can be the same-, “B” positions. To move a piece “A”+”B” positions, the position resulting from adding “A” must not be blocked, meaning that they would be considered two individual movements and the other rules would apply to each.  
  • You cannot move a counter to a blocked position, that is, where two or more opposing pieces are found. If there is only one opposing counter, the counter is “captured” and placed on the vertical bar.
  • The opposing player whose piece has been captured is obligated to re-introduce this piece on the game board on the first possible occasion, the entry position corresponds to the value rolled on one of the dice, and if it is not possible (because the entry position is blocked), you lose your turn.

Therefore, in general we will try to have two or more of our own pieces in each position, to avoid that they are captured.

When the opposing player captures one of your pieces, the main objective of the player in turn is to put that piece back on the board. You can only enter the boxes that are unoccupied. That is, if when rolling the dice, the score is 6 and 4, you can only enter the respective boxes, or otherwise miss a turn. When there are no empty spaces, the opponent is obliged to vacate a square, otherwise the opponent would be out of action.

Once all our pieces are in the lower right quadrant, they are released as the dice plays allow the counters to “leave” the board. It is not necessary to roll the exact number, a counter can be removed from a final position with any roll of the dice.

The player who frees all his pieces first wins the game and gets a point. If the opponent has not released any pieces, an additional point is obtained (gammon) and if the opponent still has pieces on our board, another additional point is awarded (backgammon).

Backgammon Rules