Main Menu
The Game
How to Play
Top of page
Top of page
Top of page
  | Home   | Index   | Info   | This Week   | Sports   | News   | Email
Backgammon - how to play    

This game is best learnt from a good book. Find them in Book Review. Here we give an overview of the rules which in any case very simple. Beginners must keep in mind that the purpose of this game is to gamble on its eventual outcome. It has little merit without the inclusion of equity calculations that go along with it.

The Backgammon board and starting position of the chequers is shown in the picture. The bottom left is White's homeboard and the top left is Black's. The points are merely numbered for our reference and not actually in real play.

The object of the game is for White to move all its pieces into the homeboard and then bear them off. Black has the same aim as well as to slow down or completely prevent the opponent from doing so.

The play is simple and controlled by rolling dice, each player moving in tern after throwing a pair of them. Checkers are moved along a number of points according to the value on each die thrown. The game is a contact struggle and lone chequers can be hit by the opponent chequers should they be moved onto the same point.

Basic Rules
  • Checkers must be moved exact numbers on the dice
  • Checkers can only land on points occupied by their own men, empty points or points with only one opponent checker resident
  • Points are made by having two or more resident checkers
  • Single checkers can be hit by an opponent checker landing on the same point
  • Hit checkers must move to the bar and re-enter the game at the next opportunity
  • Checkers must re-enter in the opponents homeboard by placing them on the points with associated numbers as rolled by the dice
  • Dice should be rolled using a Dice Cup

The Bear Off occurs only when a player has all their men inside their homeboard. Now checkers can be removed from points and taken out of the game by rolling numbers corresponding to the point numbers. A number rolled that has no checker on that point can be played by a checker on another point. The first player to bearoff all checkers is the winner.

Gambling in backgammon is more than half of the skill. Beginners should consider it their aim to reach a position where they can play for small stakes in order to begin to comprehend this aspect of the game. The calculations needed to understand this part of the game are simple but must be adhered to correctly and this makes for added spice in important matches between players.

The Cube is a device in Backgammon that determines the ultimate stake. A cube has six sides and the one used in this game has numbers on every side, starting with 2 and doubling with 4, 8, 16, 32 and up to 64. Each value is a multiple of the unit stake agreed before the game begins. The Cube is offered when one player considers it worth their while to double the stakes, that is they offer the Cube at the 2 level. If the opponent refuses the increase of stake then they automatically forfeit the game at the current stake, called dropping. The accepter of the Cube retains ownership until the game ends or such time as they wish to double the stakes themselves, when they in turn can offer the Cube back to the opponent at a higher level. In this way the amount of money played for in one game can escalate dramatically and is thus a very important consideration in the game of Backgammon. Ownership of the Cube means the other player cannot offer it again.

Gammons and Backgammons are also called Doubles and Trebles. Each game begins having a value of 1 point or 1 unit stake of money. Should one player win by removing all their pieces without the opponent removing one, then this is called a Gammon and scores double the number of points being played for at the end of the game. Also if a player removes all their checkers and the opponent still has a checker in the players homeboard (without having taken a man off) then this is a Treble game, or Backgammon, and it scores triple the stake level at the end of the game. Therefore, if the Cube was on 4 at the end of a game and the result is a Double Game, then the winner wins 8 points, or 8 units of the stake. A Treble game would result in a 12 point win!

Matches are a way of providing a target for the players to reach without necessarily having to use money. It also gives purpose to the Cube without direct financial consideration and thus a useful learning tool for beginners. Put simply, players start each game playing for 1 point, or unit, and can win the match by obtaining, or scoring, a predetermined amount. i.e. first to reach 7 points is a 7 point match.

Tournaments use the Match format to decide the winner between two players and the overall structure is a knockout event like the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. In the beginning there may be 128 players and after the first round that will be halved to 64 and then 32 after the second round. Then 16, 8 (quarter finals), 4 (semi-finals) and the last 2 play the final. Tournaments have entry fees which combined together provide prize money for the last four players. Some big tournaments even attract sponsorship.

Chouette is a form of Backgammon designed to allow more than two players to play at once. The rules of play can be complex and must be agreed in advance. Basically the system of play is to select one person to play on their own, a position known as the Box and others play the Box as a team. Only one member of the Team rolls the dice and plays the checkers but the others can consult over decisions that have to be made. If the Box player wins the game then they remain as the Box and another team member becomes the Captain of the team and that carries on until the Box loses. When the Box loses they become part of the team, at the back of the rotation order, and the victorious Team Captain becomes the new Box.
The implications of being the Box are that you are playing several people at once and therefore several times the stake. This needs to be treated carefully.

Home | Index | Information | Links | This Week | Columns | News | Email
Lotteries | Casino Gambling | Games | Betting | Film Review | Book Review | Glossary

This document maintained by
Material Copyright © 2000 - 2016