Rules & Set Up Backgammon
setting up the backgammon board
The players will sit across from each other, and one player will move the pieces clockwise from right to left. The other player will move counterclockwise from left to right.
The checkers are set up as follows.
• Five on the 6th point
•Three on the 8th point
•Five on the 13th point
•Two on the 24th point
(picture set up )
Here’s how the board should look once the checkers are in place.
The point of the points
Before getting into the moves and strategy, it’s essential to have an understanding of the different components of the game. The following are descriptions of the gaming areas, as well as some terms that you’ll find helpful if you’re about to set up your first game board.
A point indicates one game space or one move. When a player rolls the dice, each pip is converted to one point. For example, if a die comes up as two, the player can move two spaces or points in the direction of their home area. More than one checker can rest on a single point, but they must be from a single player. Two players cannot occupy one point or game space at the same time..
The home area is the final quarter section of the game board for each player. It’s the last section that the checkers pass through before finally being removed from the game board. Your opponent’s home area is essentially the starting point. It’s the farthest section from your home area.
The bar is the center section of the board. It’s the location on a rigid board of the crease when you fold up the game board. On the roll up board it is marked by a center leather band. When a player’s checker is “hit,” it is temporarily placed on the bar until it can be moved back into play.
A block occurs when a point has two or more of your opponent’s checkers on it. You can’t move your checker to a blocked location.
A blot is a space or point that has only one checker resting on it. It’s a vulnerable spot for that player, as it doesn’t block the opponent.
A hit occurs when one player can make a move to a blot occupied by the opponent. The opponent’s checker is considered to be “hit” and is moved to the “bar” until it’s time for the owner’s next play.
Bearing off is removing your checker from the board. The objective of backgammon is to bear off your checkers before your opponent.
A player that rolls the same pip value on both dice at once has doubles. That player gets to make twice the moves. So, if a player rolls a “3” and a “3,” he or she now has four “3” moves. Meaning, one or more checkers will be moved three points forward for a total of four times instead of two. Regular non-double rolls only permit two moves; doubles allow for four. Doubles = double the moves.
A gammon is a win for one player when the opponent hasn’t even moved all of their checkers to their home area, so hasn’t been able to bear off even one. In a regular game, a gammon is worth two points.
A backgammon is a win with the same premise as a gammon, but the opponent also has one or more of their checkers in the winner’s home area. In a regular game, backgammon is worth three points.
You’re now well versed in the basic terms, and you know how to set up the game board. Before we get into the moves and actual gameplay, there are a few other essential things to consider
• You can’t “bear off” your game pieces (checkers) until you have all 15 of them in your home area.
• When you get “hit,” your next move has to be getting your checker back into play by using at least one of the pips that show up on your next dice roll. You’ll start it in your opponent’s home area, which is the farthest point from your home section.
• Each die plays separately. If you roll a “6” and a “4,” you play each one individually. So, you can move one checker forward six spaces and another checker four points ahead. Or, you can select one and advance it ten spaces total.
Who move first ?
After you and your opponent have your game board set up correctly, you’ll each roll one of your dice.
Whoever rolls the highest number is the first to move. That player uses the combination of the roll-off as the first play. He or she doesn’t roll again.
Therefore, if one player rolled a “3,” and the other a “5,” the “5” player goes first and has to play the “3” and “5” for the first actions.
Then, the opponent will roll a fresh combination and gameplay continues from there.
It’s your turn
Whenever it’s your turn, you’ll make your moves with the objective of getting all of your checkers into your home area.
With each roll of the dice, a few things can happen.
• You can play each die separately and move one of your checkers forward for the number of pips indicated. Then, you can choose a second checker and move it the number of spaces as shown on the second die.
• You can select one checker and move it forward for the number of spaces indicated based on the total of the dice roll.
You can land on one of your opponent’s blots. Meaning, a game space where your opponent has only one checker resting and is vulnerable to a hit. You’ll then take over the point and send the opposition to the bar.
• You’ll roll doubles, and you can then make four different moves instead of two. If you roll two “5s,” for example, you can make four different “five-space forward moves•
If you have a checker on the bar, you have to use one of the die rolls to get your piece back in play. That means you start it at the opposite end of the board (across from your last space before bearing off).
•Optional – there is an option to use the doubling cube and challenge your opponent, but we’ll get into that in a separate section.
You first want to get all of your checkers into your home section, and then it’s time to bear off or get them off the board and out of play.
Remember, the objective is to clear the board of your checkers while your opponent still has at least one remaining.
The rules for bearing off are as follows.
• You can’t remove any checkers until your entire collection of 15 is resting in your home area.
• You’ll bear off just like playing a regular dice roll. You can play each die separately with two separate checkers.
• You don’t need to roll an exact number to bear off. As long as it’s the number you need or higher, you can make your move.
The scoring system is about as primary as it comes when you’re just talking about regular backgammon with no doubling cube or other twists.
•A win = one point
•A gammon = two points
•A backgammon = three points
The winner receives points representing the highest attained of the three possibilities.